The Real Cost of “Free Food”

Many of us have been there …  We’re making a commitment to eating healthier but then it’s a Friday and your boss brings in donuts to work for a job well done.  “But it’s free!” you’re mind begins to say.“ I totally deserve this.”  You try to resist but before you know it, you find yourself diving headfirst into that jelly-filled one that has been calling your name all day.  Then your mind goes into a spiral of guilt and shame for having done so..

I am feeling inspired to write this post because I am on a work assignment in Costa Rica right now where even I am sensing an internal conflict with eating.  Don't get me wrong - I am entirely grateful for the opportunity and that all my immediate needs, including meals are taken care of.  However, each day, I am finding my mind saying things like, “I should order more because its all expense paid.”  “I’m not really hungry… but it’s free!”

But as the saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Every decision we make will have consequences – some of these desired and some of these undesired. We must not forget that our power lies in the fact that we always can make a choice.

There are many variations to this story – perhaps it’s free samples at the grocery store or an abundance of different food at a party.  In the case of “free food,” the mind often defaults to how great the opportunity is.  However, in choosing “free food,” you may find that in exchange you are giving up something- perhaps sabotaging your commitment to your health goals or just that feeling of vitality.  In my case, I found myself feeling sluggish after all my “free food fun” in Costa Rica.

So how can we make more conscious decisions that best serve us?  The first step is to bring awareness and learning to the situation.  

The next time you sense this eating trigger comes up, I invite you to ask yourself with compassion, “What is the choice to eat really doing for me?”  For many people, eating has the effect of NUMBING out pain.  Some of my clients have found food was an effective way to ZONE OUT after a long day of studying or working (exactly what I am finding in Costa Rica after work!).  Or perhaps, it represents a feeling of fun and freedom after feeling restricted all day on an project.  Perhaps food is serving as an companion, a way to soothe feelings of loneliness.  This data can give you some insight into what you truly need in the moment (which is a great opportunity for self-love and self-care!)

Next, ask yourself - "What is it costing me to make this decision?"   Knowing what you know now, how willing are you to change your patterns?  This is not to say that we can never partake in “free food; rather, we have the opportunity to discern if the decision aligns with our goals.

If walking away from “free food” serves you best, it can help to focus on what you are gaining in doing so.  Perhaps you’ll gain a sense of pride for honoring your health goals.  Or perhaps you will be grateful for not spoiling your next meal!  Perhaps, you can focus on how you want your body to look and feel having taken the steps to get there.

Our ultimate freedom is in our ability to choose in each moment.

Lastly, let’s not forget the power of distractions!  If you’ve heard of the "marshmallow test", you've heard that distractions can be your best friend when it comes to walking away from the desire to eat.  If the urge to eat arises which does not serve you, try engaging in an activity you find pleasant for about 15 minutes   You will find that most cravings will subside in intensity in this short amount of time.

After all, the power is yours to make the choice.  Here’s to you making more conscious decisions to serve your highest self!

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If you'd like some support in exploring further the reasons why you reach for food when you're not hungry and this incredible opportunity you have for self-mastery and to realize your body and health goals, please do check out the Food & Body Love Coaching Program at the following link.  Also, feel free to contact me directly.  I love to know how I can support you!