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Wellness Buzz: Taking Inventory

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Taking Inventory
By Stephanie Pollock Fox

The experience of eating food is naturally pleasurable - it releases happy neurotransmitters and stimulates all of our senses to provide a truly incredible bodily experience. We get to normalize that food is meant to be a pleasurable experience, and yet, when eating becomes our only form of pleasure, our relationship with pleasure and food can become confusing. When we desire to feel pleasure immediately, it's easy to feel a pull to a particular food that initiates a pleasant memory, sensation, or emotion we felt from that food in the past. The craving for the particular food in the present moment is often not actually for food, but for the experience and sensation of feeling relaxation and pleasure. The more awareness we foster around what foods we have connected to pleasure, the more power we give to ourselves. From that empowered place, we then get to decide if eating a certain food will support us feeling pleasure, not just at the moment, but in the long run.

Doing a pleasure inventory can be supportive to foster awareness of what you connect with sensations of pleasure. Take out a piece of paper and write down everything you connect with pleasure. This can be food, games, activities, and thoughts. Once you've made your list, make a note next to each item around memories you have with those items - did the pleasure you receive last longer than the moment of you engaging in that activity? Or did the pleasure end when it was complete? You may start to discover that eating food is something that often does not provide you with pleasure long term, but lasts for the time you are eating and then dissipates as soon as you stop. Other activities, like spending time with friends and loved ones, physical movement, or taking walks, can provide us pleasure in the moment and throughout the day because they provide the opportunity for greater connection to ourselves and our surroundings.

When we desire pleasure from food, that is not a "bad" thing - it's simply an opportunity to invite in curiosity. When the desire arises, we can invite in curiosity to explore what the desire for pleasure has to teach us. Have you been feeling stressed, bored, or tired? How might your desire for pleasure from food be guiding you to the other emotions that need your loving attention? In just acknowledging what else is present, we give ourselves a choice to decide whether eating food will be the most supportive act in that moment. If you decide that eating food for pleasure is exactly the experience you want to have, then you get to embrace the desire for pleasure from food, slow down, and truly savor it. This can support decreasing the desire to eat more and more because the food was consumed in a slow, mindful, connected, and embodied way.

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