…Have Another…?

You don’t have to ask permission of anyone but yourself about what you can or should eat. You are accountable to no one but yourself. Sometimes when we hear that we think we will go crazy and eat everything in sight…and it might happen for a while, especially if we aren’t coming from a mindset of loving ourselves.

Since we are accountable for all our choices…what we eat, when we eat, when we choose to eat rather than express our feelings…then it is up to us to set ourselves up for success!

One of the biggest challenges that we face is our unconscious eating…which is really a habit. It is a behavior that we have practiced enough that we don’t have to think about it. So we first have to become aware of the behavior so that we can stop it.

One of my unconscious eating habits was to walk to the pantry and grab a handful of cookies. I remember eating an entire package of Oreos back in college by just grabbing a couple at a time while I studied. Next thing I knew the entire package was gone and I couldn’t figure out who ate all my cookies! Talk about unconscious behavior! Since no one else was home during this time, there was no one else to blame. Unless some goblin came in to gobble them up, it had to be me. Wow.

Since I know I have the capacity to eat lots of food that way…a couple things at a time…and I wanted to stop that unhealthy habit, I knew I had to come up with a way that would “wake me up” as it were.

I tried not having cookies in the house, I tried substituting other foods or drinks, but that really didn’t stop the habit. Sure I consumed fewer calories by substituting diet sodas (something I don’t recommend for lots of reasons) or carrot sticks. But the HABIT was still the same. So when I got tired of carrot sticks it was easy to over eat some other high calorie food. I even found that I ate things I didn’t enjoy…just to feed that habit

My solution is to have a sign in the cupboard where I would store the snacks…or the fridge or freezer…or all of the above! The sign is placed so my hand would have to touch it, go around it, lift it, whatever, in order to reach the food. On the sign I wrote a simple message to myself, “Is eating this food what I really want?”

Sometimes just feeling the paper was enough to make me conscious of what I was doing and to stop. Sometimes reading the message was enough before I even touched the paper. It didn’t matter if my eyes saw the paper or my hand felt the paper, the effect was the same…it stopped the unconscious behavior.

That is not to say that I NEVER eat the snack. That’s not the point of the paper. The point is to stop the unconscious act so we take control and retrain our minds and make conscious choices about what we are putting in our mouths. This kind of eating is almost never about hunger or needing food. It is almost always about something emotional…it might be boredom or anger or sadness…but it is not about what your body needs in order to be healthy.

Being accountable for what you eat is not just about the specific foods. The answer is not found in choosing lower calorie foods…that’s what diets are about…and that’s why diets don’t work. The true answer is about being aware and taking personal responsibility for our actions. The first step is to become aware of the behavior…little tricks like that simple piece of strategically placed paper are a great way to interrupt an old behavior and start a new healthy one–that of making conscious decisions!

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