Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Topics- Breaking Bad Habits

Yesterday I made the same mistake I have made countless times before.  This same mistake can be traced through many different foods...but this particular food mistake has been the culprit at least 5 times in the last two weeks. 

I get in food habits and those habits become difficult to break.  This particular habit I saw coming a million miles away.  I could sense it, smell it, hear it, even before it was available.  My babysitting job has me surrounded by "kid food".  Snacks, desserts, crackers, pretzels, chips, cereal, and on and on and on.  All my biggest food weaknesses are now surrounding me in my every day setting.  It is one thing for me to rid my house of all temptation...but how do I combat being tempted against my will?

When I took this job I knew this challenge would arise.  I know myself and my weaknesses well enough to know that this is it...this is the big one for me.  All that bleached white flour coated in high fructose corn syrup and filled with substances I cannot pronounce.  YUMMY!  That's what my taste buds think anyhow.  But my body is weighed down with product, my mind spinning from the sugar and I just can't control my portions and I binge out of control. 

I started this job with a plan.  I had the presence of mind to realize this was going to be a hurtle and I needed a way to work through the challenge.  Before this job, I used to deny all afternoon snacking because I find that I tend to binge in the afternoons and then I feel awful about myself.  Well, I knew if I denied myself a healthy snack while babysitting I would eventually end up curled up on their couch with an empty box of oreos...and yes, those are vegan!  So my plan was to allow any fruit and vegetable snacks and as many as I wanted.  These are low-calorie snacks and I trusted after 30 baby carrots I would just be tired of chewing and give up. 

My plan worked for a bit.  I ate every vegetable and piece of fruit that Bob and Toby's mom and dad could stock in their houses.  But eventually I let my guard down.  First it was hummus with the veggies- and when I eat veggies with hummus it is more like "would you like a carrot with your hummus!"  Then I moved onto crackers.  Not a terrible choice, I would eat the healthy ones.  But then there was peanut butter on that cracker, and then there were 15 of those in my belly.  And then chips and salsa...salsa is vegetables and fruit after all.   And maybe a granola bar happened here and there, or a bowl of cereal mixed with nuts and raisins and then the trail mix happened.  And of course, just a few pieces of candy never really hurt anybody. 

Until there was candy corn present.  I mean seriously, can somebody just drop some butter or milk or some sort of animal fat into candy corn so I might be able to resist.  One handful, then two and then everyday for a week.  And then I would start with my carrots and apple thinking I would stop there, but then I would eat some of the kids ritz crackers and peanut butter and then end with some candy corn and then feel miserable.  Each day it continues.  Each day I once again make that mistake. 

And that brings us pretty much up to speed.  Now, how do I get back? Each day I am able to recognize my opponent, but each day my opponent continues to defeat me.  It is only a matter of time, right? The underdog must win eventually.  But to win, you must train.  So how do I train for my next battle?

My pastor said something interesting yesterday, it takes 21 days to break a habit.  I remembered reading this same statement when I did the Quantum Wellness Cleanse about a year ago--the cleanse that inspired my vegan ways.  So I obviously have a habit I need to break...and this is going to take at least 21 days. 

Now typically I shy away from restricting myself and giving myself rules.  Sometimes rules just aggravate the problem and therefore leave me wanting even more the very thing I am trying to get rid of.  But I know I need to break a cycle here.  And it is going to take 21 days. 

So what should I do for 21 days?  My initial thought was to avoid all snacking while I am at their homes.  For 21 days I would just wait until I get home to eat.  This will help me to break the conditioning of wanting a snack the minute I walk into their home.  Instead, I will be forced to feel my hunger and recognize when it is hunger instead of boredom.  But I am concerned with that heavy restriction.  What if I am really hungry?  I mean it is 6 or 7 hours between lunch and dinner on a normal day.  So my second thought is to bring my own snack and only be allowed to eat what I bring.  That will enforce portion control and the ingredients in the food that I eat. 

I haven't decided which choice I will make just yet.  I need a minute to think this one through.  Any ideas? Any tips on how to break a bad habit?  Comment or email me if you have any suggestions.

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