Too Many Mince Pies?

68 mince pie pic1Santa 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:

CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Alexander thinking, asking questions, everyday life, stopping
10 comments on “Too Many Mince Pies?
  1. Jane says:

    What a timely and helpful posting. Thank you

  2. Karen says:

    Such simplicity Karen, it’s amazing what changes can happen when we get in touch with our “reasoning side” I’ve been a pupil for many years, your posts are full of wisdom, thanks for sharing :-))

  3. First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if
    you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.

    I have had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas
    out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just
    trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?


    • Hi there, sorry it’s taken me so long to get to this one. Usually, for me, the process of writing a blog begins when an idea pops into my head. It may be something that comes up in a lesson, or something I read online, but the response is “that will make a great blog”. Then the idea sort of germinates inside my head, so by the time I get to the computer (provided I don’t put it off too long) the idea is ready and waiting to get itself down on the page. The process of turning this raw idea into a coherent blog is another thing altogether. It takes much longer, mainly because it involves a battle between genuine judgement and unreasonable doubts! So my delay is further on in the process. But I have found that if I’m having trouble creating a beginning, I start somewhere in the middle, and come back and write the beginning later. I don’t know if this helps or not. Writing is such a personal thing. Stick with it! Karen

  4. Adrianne says:

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  5. Excellent blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring
    writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any tips? Thanks a lot!

    • Hi, glad you like it! I would say your first step in choosing between free and paid platform is to work out exactly what you want your blog to do – how simple or complicated, do you want stats to see how many people are reading, are you happy to fit into a format someone else has chosen or do you have a very particular idea of what you want. The more complex the site, the more I would go for a paid option; a very simple site, a free one should be enough. Enjoy blogging! Karen

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