Santa Claus eats 91.8 million mince pies every year* (or cookies, or sausages, depending on the country). Most of us go slightly overboard when it comes to food and drink at this time of year. Parties. Dinners. Family-sized tins of chocolate. LOTS of beer.
Too much of everything, except possibly that green salad that nobody ever eats.
FM Alexander enjoyed good food and wine. And while he doesn’t talk about mince pies, that I know of, he does talk about too much eating and drinking (and smoking and taking drugs). His answer to the problem was moderation. He was quite keen on this idea of moderation, so keen he wrote about it several times. In his second book he describes “that enduring happiness, with its accompanying sense of satisfaction and contentment, which is associated with moderation and general control”†. That’s a pretty glowing commendation.
But how to achieve it?
Not in the usual way. FM Alexander does not recommend self-control, willpower or throwing everything except lettuce and chamomile teabags out of the house. In fact, he recommends the same approach you use in all your Alexander Technique work. Stopping, and giving yourself the time to choose.
This calls for that “vital freedom” in reaction(freedom IN thought and action), which enables us to give effect to a decision previously reasoned out, such, for instance, as the decision to take or not to take alcohol, …or to use … in moderation whenever it is decided to do so and to be able to stop at any time.§
Vital freedom in reaction.
Jen Mackerras puts it more simply. Her temptation was ice cream, not mince pies, but the solution was the same:-
Whenever I went past the ice cream stall in Melbourne, I was tempted. But then I thought of FM. I thought about how I had received the stimulus from the ice cream stall, but that I would refuse to do anything immediately in response. When I gave myself that little space of freedom, I was able to reaffirm my commitment to my dietary regime, to assess what I had eaten that day, and to confirm with myself that calories from ice cream were not necessary at that moment in time.
And I would walk by.√
It’s a two-stage process:-
1) Reason out IN ADVANCE how much you are going to eat over the day, week, or Christmas holiday.
2) Stop and give yourself the chance to work out whether that particular pie, cookie or roast potato is part of the plan.
And then, if necessary, you walk by the mince pie.
† FM Alexander, Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, IRDEAT edition p.389
§ FM Alexander, The Universal Constant in Living, IRDEAT edition p.389
√ A wonderful blog by Jen Mackerras, I recommend you eat (sorry, read) the whole of it: http://www.activateyou.com/2012/09/alexander-technique-dieting/