Using Alternative Activities

The principle of using alternative activities is simple. When you get the urge, do something else. If you use urges as a signal for positive activity, eating will become less rewarding and the old associations between urges and eating will diminish. When you see food, think about food or feel hungry because you are lonely, eating is simply a habit created by an association. Let’s make new associations.

When you recognize urges, think of an activity that is incompatible with eating. For instance, typing a letter and jumping rope are incompatible – both cannot be done at once unless you are “Rubber” man. If you were addicted to typing and agreed to jump rope each time you got the urge to type, the strength of your addiction would fade.

The same approach can work with eating. One cannot play the tuba and eat, so tuba practice would be a good alternative to eating. You might want to think of more practical methods that would involve activities you enjoy.

Making a List

Make a list of activities you could use when you are tempted to eat. The list should contain more than one activity, so that you have several choices. If you vow to consult the list when you want to eat, your control can improve. Make certain the list contains enjoyable activities so that you will actually do them in lieu of eating.

Some can be done at home; others take you out of the house. Some take little time, while others are more involved.

Establish your own list. In the spaces that follow, check off the activities that would make good alternatives for you and also add as many activities as you can. They should be both enjoyable and feasible. Some may require planning and the right timing, like going to a movie. Others should be available at a moment’s notice, so that you can spring into action when an urge hits.

Try consulting the list when you get the urge to eat. If you can distract yourself for even a few minutes, the urge to eat can fade and your control can increase. Studies have shown that hunger comes and goes during the day, so not succumbing to an urge the instant it hits you, can give you precious time to think. Do your best to ride the wave!

Examples of incompatible My list of
activities to eating: alternative activities
1. Walk the dog
2. Go to  a movie
3. Call a friend
4. Take a shower
5. Take a drive
6. Read a romantic book
7. Read a sexy book
8. Go to the zoo
9. Wash the car
10. Get some exercise
11. Play a board game
12. Brush your teeth
13. Read a manual
14. Refinish furniture
15. Knit a sweater
16. Work in the garden
17. Visit a museum
18. Buy a gift
19. Work on a hobby
20. Donate to charity

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