Breaking habits and beating addictions.
February 7, 2010 § 1 Comment
Something pretty cool is happening with my diet. I’m not sure if any of you have ever tried to break a habit…be it smoking or biting your nails, or in my case, eating too much after dinner – as well as battling with fairly regular urges to demolish a family-sized pack of assorted biscuits…But there is definitely a point after a few weeks of being really strict and not giving in, that suddenly the habit isn’t there any more. You’ve successfully severed that neurological pathway in your brain that drives you impulsively to do the ‘bad’ thing.
For me, I was battling with eating too much after dinner purely out of habit, and i’d also crave junk foods – every few weeks there would be a huge blow-out of shameful proportions and i’d be stuck in a horrible guilty cycle of over-eating, then under-eating to compensate, but being too hungry and ending up consuming more than I normally would have anyway. Sound familiar? It was a really bad time because the rest of my diet was great, but then i’d sabotage myself late at night with toast, cereal…things that were not necessarily unhealthy but definitely unnecessary.
Another amazing thing is that since i’ve been including more and more veggies and raw food into my diet, I actually am finding that I am less hungry in general. For a person who would normally need to get something down every couple of hours or risk ending up faint, shaky and with a stomach ache, this is a completely new experience for me! For example the other day I ate: my usual porridge for breakfast (which i’ll grant, is a massive feast of super foods and probably pretty high in calories – oats, chia seeds, cottage cheese, banana, walnuts, coconut, LSA and agave), an apple, small serve of quinoa pasta (wheat free, soy free etc) with tomato and vegetable sauce, then a huge beetroot, parsley and celery juice for dinner with a bit of cottage cheese and berries. That for me, is not much, and I also managed to avoid bread!
I am putting this exciting new phenomenon down to the fact that i’m getting all the nutrients I need from my diet now, so my body isn’t giving me signals to eat more, or eat junkey things to try and compensate.
These are a couple of pics of my beetroot juice in the making, however the light was really bad as it’s been raining for, like, EVER and my weakling little camera can’t cope too well, so not the best quality.
The colour of the beetroot was so intense, I figure it had to be doing something great for my insides. Deep red coloured fruits and vegetables are usually very high in anti-oxidants and have anti-carcinogenic properties. In this vege monster was:
1/2 raw beetroot
stick of celery
I think it’s definitely a ‘cleansing’ juice, especially with the addition of parsley. I love it – this recipe makes a huge one that you can come back to later in the day.
So if you’re battling with an addiction or a dietary habit that is making you unhappy, I have the following advice just based on my own experiences.
- It helps to think about your habit as just that – something that has been learned over time, a path in the brain that leads you to do that particular thing over something else. Understanding that it’s a neurological pathway that you have to overwrite helps to disassociate from the emotional side of things, that can be disheartening and frustrating.
- If, like me, your problem is eating at a particular time, or snacking on bad foods, think about the triggers for this behaviour. For me, after dinner when I was watching TV or on the computer was when i’d repeatedly go back to the fridge and absent-mindedly snack. Replacing this habit with something else helps, like instead of holding food while watching TV, maybe you could write in a journal, organise your day tomorrow, paint your nails…something that replaces the habit of eating.
- It’s helpful too to think about your attitude to food in general. I was trying to eat too little throughout the day because I was counting calories and being very pedantic about my diet. In reality though, I would snack after dinner because I wanted the sensation of eating a lot, because I was trying to eat less and less. But you know what, I have actually lost more weight and am really happy now with my body since I canned calories and just made the effort to eat 3 decent meals a day, with a couple of snacks if I feel like it – mostly of fruit and vegetables but sometimes crackers etc. Now I know that my dinner will fill me up, and if i still want something else I can have some fruit and tea, or some frozen berries.
- Getting enough sleep really helps to keep everything running smoothly, especially if you’re a late-night eater. I know if i stay up i’m more susceptible to snack, so I just don’t do it.
- Know that it will be hard at first to give up something that you think you love. All habits can be stubborn, and you need willpower in the first couple of weeks. But believe me, it gets easier and easier, and one day you will suddnely realise that you’ve regained control, and boy, that’s so empowering!
Getting rid of the guilt over bad habits is something that will make you feel happier, healthier, and more in control of your life. Trying to give something up? Take a new approach, cut yourself some slack and take small steps every day to kill the habit once and for all!