It’s 9 p.m. and you’ve reached the end of a dinner out with a select handful of your closest friends.
Everyone is leaning back in their seat, bellies full, unstoppable grins squeezing every cheek.
You let your eyes close and breathe in the crisp night air.
Your own smile is extra satisfied.
You’re proud because you didn’t just choose the yummiest option on the menu, you chose it because it was the healthiest.
With the most vibrantly colored vegetables you’ve had in recent memory, and drizzled with a sauce that must have been sprinkled with fairy-dust, your meal was pos.it.ive.ly. deeeee-licious!
Golly! If food was always this simple, you’d never have to feel guilty about anything you ate!
But then the waitress comes, shoves a dessert menu on your lap, and you’re rattled out of your self-satisfied stupor.
“Oh no,” you quietly whisper to yourself.
Your friends’ eyes all have an extra sparkle as they survey the list of sugar and spice, and everything not-so-nice, at least when it comes to your diet.
To your dismay, you see your best bud with a devilish grin and as she asks the table if you all shouldn’t just cowboy up and split one of each, because “Who wants to choose?”
Actually, you don’t.
You don’t want to choose any dessert at all, because it would ruin all the self-control you miraculously had through the first round of orders.
You’d be perfectly happy to have some peppermint tea and call it a night, thank-you-very-much!
But before you get the chance to protest the entire dessert menu is ordered and on its way.
Fairy-dust high wears off. Satisfied smile? Gone.
“What happened to getting just one dessert with many spoons?” You ask in a last ditch effort to salvage your sanity. But your friends just laugh.
Oh no! How will you stick to your diet with piles of sugary temptation surrounding you?
Curses that your friends are foodies!
Don’t they care about the caloric content or waistline impact of all this?
But there’s no way out, the desserts have arrived. And it all looks incredible.
Tarts and salted custards and chocolate…and more chocolate…
You’ll just have one, small, insy-weensy taste…
The friend sitting across from you scowls as you put down your spoon and urges you to keep digging in.
Her words are the last straw.
“To hell with it!” You declare.
And then you lose control.
Next thing you know you’ve eaten way more than you intended.
To make matters worse, as you waddle home like a stuffed turkey you realize that you don’t actually remember how any of the desserts tasted.
A gross sticky feeling spreads throughout your whole body as you scold yourself for falling off the healthy train. Yet. Again.
We’ve all been there.
All too often we let ourselves indulge in a guilty pleasure, only to find that the guilt eats up all the pleasure (pun intended).
If you really honestly think about the last time this happened, chances are you’ll notice that you barely remember any pleasure all all.
All guilt, no pleasure.
It’s like a hungry monster possesses your body and you don’t wake up until the frenzy is over, fatty-sugary evidence smeared all over your face, feeling bad about yourself and wondering what in the world just happened.
It’s time to put an end to this once and for all.
There is no reason you should keep doing this to yourself.
After all, the Dalai Lama says that “The purpose of life is to be happy,” and you’re not very happy when you’re feeling bad about yourself all the time, are you?
I didn’t think so.
What’s the solution?
Start prioritizing pleasure!
Instead of avoiding your favorite things because you think they make you bad, embrace the fact that you love them and welcome them into your life whole-heartedly.
(P.S. They’re totally not bad, and loving them doesn’t make you a bad person. Things are just things. It’s how we label them that gives them meaning. But I digress…)
Love is a strong attractive force.
In fact, it’s the strongest force in the Universe.
While I know that you have a sh** ton of other superpowers, you can’t win a war against Love.
No way, no how.
When you try to fight Love you end up miserable, and you miss out on the yummiest parts of life -including chocolate lava cake with raspberry sauce.
Nope. No matter how many ways you try to cut that ooey gooey delicious cake, you better just grab a spoon and dig in, because Love is stronger than you are.
The trick is in your approach.
When you are faced with a potential guilty pleasure, pause for a second and consider how it’s going to make you feel.
If you decide that it’s going to feel good (mmmmm…chocolate….) then go for it!
Actively Love that chocolate lava cake with raspberry sauce (or your trashy novel, or whatever other guilty pleasure you might have.)
Know that you’re choosing this indulgence and enjoy every second of it!
Pay attention to the look, the feel, the smell, the sound, the taste…all of it.
Take your time and tap into how it makes you feel.
Then stop when you stop enjoying it.
When you use this approach you’ll be much more satisfied, and you won’t need to waste your energy on constantly trying to control yourself.
The sense of satisfaction you get from being fully present will keep you full a lot longer than any diet can.
After a while, cravings will disappear, and you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself knowing that you’re making choices that make you happy.
Of course, you should also weigh the consequences.
Don’t just think about how you’ll feel in that moment, but consider how you’ll feel afterward.
When it comes to food, the next time you eat a potential trigger food, like a baguette for example, pay attention to how you feel over the next few days.
If you start to notice that a trigger food like gluten/dairy/eggs/nuts/sugar/you-name-it makes you feel foggy-brained, sluggish, moody, or icky in some other way, choose to avoid that trigger more often.
Just know that you (not the hungry monster inside of you) are making that choice.
The important thing to remember is that you get to choose what feelings you want to invite into your life.
And food will always make you feel something, so choose wisely.
Key takeaway: the more you enjoy the things you you love, the more freedom you have over what you choose.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What’s one of your biggest guilty pleasures, and how can you get even more pleasure out of it next time you indulge?
Leave a comment in the comments section. I personally read every single one!
Love, hugs, and chocolate lava cake, with or without raspberry sauce,