What is habitual eating?
We each have hundreds of habits that we do daily; they’re not all bad. Many of our habits help us get through our day; they’re the things we do regularly that we don’t have to think much about. Some habits we have aren’t good for us though and while we often realize this, we find it difficult to break them.
Why do we keep doing things we don’t particularly want to keep doing?
Well, when it comes to eating too much or eating when we’re not hungry, it most often is because food is available everywhere. No matter where you live you can always find food stands around every corner. You can buy food that isn’t in season because it is shipped nationally and internationally. We find ourselves indulging because it’s there. We see it and want it. How many times have you made a grocery list that you vowed to stick to only to find that you strayed outside the list and bought compulsively? The snack for later, the candy bar for the ride home, the bad of chips… which in the end leaves you feeling defeated by non other than yourself.
We eat when we’re with family or friends, we have another drink, another bite, half a scoop, a tiny slice for the fourth time this sitting. We don’t really taste or register what or when we are eating. We eat that snack while watching our TV shows – every night! We want to stop the madness, we need to stop it!
But why stop?
First and foremost, our body needs a break. It needs to have time for fasting every day, even a few times a day. A small hunger pang before each meal is a healthy thing. I’m not suggesting that you become famished, but allow yourself to be hungry, truly hungry. Secondly, weight. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight, for your organs, blood, energy level and even your emotional well-being.
How can you stop?
Now that you know why you should stop habitual eating the next step is how. How can you stop habitual eating when it feels comfortable & familiar like a best friend or an old pair of jeans that are worn in, soft and snug in the right places? Stopping bad habits is never an easy task but it is always worth it. When you stop things that aren’t good for you, you open up a whole other world of possibilities. Change takes time and practice so be patient and forgiving with yourself.
Begin breaking your bad habits by first listing a few of the major habits you’d like to break and next to them, the reasons you want to break them and then the benefits you will gain by breaking each habit.
Next, find a phrase that will help you feel aware of your actions each time you are tempted to eat out of habit; use a phrase that is supportive/positive. And thirdly, take small steps. Small steps help you feel less deprived while staying connected with your personal goals and intentions. For instance, if you’re meeting friends at an eatery, set your intentions beforehand to order a salad or something from the healthy options section, stick with that plan no matter what. I know it’s tempting to order something deep fried, cheesy, gooey, rich and dripping with sauce once you are with friends but use your self-control; we all have it, we just don’t always use it. At home take smaller portions, leave pictures or messages in sight as reminders to eat mindfully and not habitually. Easier said than done, but eliminate junk and unhealthy snacks from your home, replace them with healthy options like nuts, fruit, plain yogurt that you can sweeten with cinnamon, honey, nuts, fruit, berries, seeds. Think before actions take over. Realize what you’re doing; be aware of why you’re doing it, why you should stop and what to do instead of eating it.
List habits you want to stop. Set and stick with your intentions. Take smaller portions. Get rid of the triggers that lead you to eat habitually. Be mindful every time you eat. Get help to guide you through the steps with ease. Do it for your mind, body and spirit.
In love & light!