As we move into summer and think about “riding the waves” of the ocean on some glorious beach, you can use that same imagery to think about “riding the urge” to eat. We have urges to eat when we are physically hungry, but we also have urges to eat when we are not hungry. These urges might arise from all kinds of things such as seeing delicious food, hearing a food commercial, reading a recipe or food magazine, or smelling food. If we allowed ourselves to eat food every time we had a small urge or pull to eat something we would definitely be eating too much. There are a number of things one can do when one observes an urge to eat arise. It is important to remember that we don’t have to eat just because we have an urge.
Dr. Alan Marlatt, who spent his career working with addictions, used the metaphor of “urge surfing” as a was of staying present with the intensity of craving without needing to act on it. He actually suggested that you picture the urge as an ocean wave and imagine yourself surfing, using the breath as a surfboard to ride the wave. You can breath deeply as you feel the urge rising and falling, like a wave. Imagine yourself riding the wave of the urge through its peak and its decline. Of course, any metaphor could work that helps you observe the urges and cravings without having to act upon them or fight them.
“Aaron” from deepspring.org suggests that you be aware of craving in the following manner. “Go into the dining table at lunchtime and see the exquisite food laid there for you. Smell the smells and allow craving to arise. First pleasant, then, “Oh, I want some of that.” Step back from the table for a moment. Step back from the table for a minute and just watch that craving energy. See that it is impermanent (and transitory). See how you can help yourself to the food very much from a place of not grasping. The fear, “I won’t get enough,” falls away. Joy and gratitude arise. There’s no more contraction around it. ”
You can play around with the cravings and urges you have for food. But, you can also play around with the urges and cravings you have for other things–shopping, gossiping, working, playing, arguing, etc. If you can pay attention to how you are being pulled into various activities or behaviors before you act on them, you have greater choices in life. You actually have a life that you decide on rather than being led around by the nose!