In my positive Psychology class this week, I learned about an interesting study done on smokers. The study taught smokers how to ride out the desire to smoke with a technique called "R.A.I.N.". "R.A.I.N.", can be applied to many different areas of life and can become a very valuable tool for people who struggle with their weight, and find themselves giving into the temptation to overindulge and sabotage their health journey.
I have discussed in previous blog posts about being proactive instead of reacting to circumstances. The R.A.I.N. technique is one way to be proactive and respond positively, instead of reacting, to circumstances.
Our habits are established by something called a habit loop; something happens and tells our brain to do a certain behavior, which produces a reward. Simply put: event-behavior-reward.
This habit loop is reinforced when we give into our cravings. For example; we feel overwhelmed from a specific circumstance, we head into the kitchen and reward ourselves with comfort food. It makes us feel better in the short term, thus the reward. Do this often enough and you establish the habit of eating in response to unpleasant situations.
The R.A.I.N. technique can help you break the habit loop by helping you pay attention to your feelings instead of automatically acting on them.
R. Recognize when you have an event that might bring up uncomfortable feelings. Feelings of overwhelm, loneliness, anger, etc... Just recognize and pay attention to the feeling and try to understand what that feeling is.
A. Accept. Instead of trying to push that feeling away by eating, simply acknowledge the feeling is there.
I. Investigate. Ask yourself; "What does my body feel like right now?" Notice your emotions, bodily sensations, is your heart racing?
N. Note what you are feeling and why, without having to act on those feelings. Simply observe them.
Finally, have a plan in place so you can do something other than eat when you feel this way. Find another reward, besides food, which supports your health. For example, take a hot bath, go for a walk, clean out your junk drawers.
Cravings come in waves, the desire to give into a craving can be waited out and this technique can help you get off autopilot and help you to pay attention to your those cravings. Remember, you can't change behavior without paying attention to why you do the behavior in the first place.
Using the R.A.I.N. technique, paired with a plan to do something instead of eating when you have the craving with help you improve your health and wellness without dieting. Give it a try! Have a great week! Be Well!