Every now and then I stop and take a look at my habits. Are they helping me in my quest for better health? Do I look and feel the way I really want to? Have I slid back to my old ways without noticing?
When I sat down after returning from vacation, where I enjoyed myself and completely relaxed, I noticed that once at home I had gone back to my old patterns of mindless eating. How is it that when I’m on vacation I actually lose weight and at home I once again eat compulsively?
When faced with any sort of stress in my life, I begin having cravings. I can’t stop thinking of my next meal; I forage through the cabinets for “something good,” and find that I munch mindlessly without stopping. I may start the day out with a healthy bowl of oatmeal and a container of yogurt, but by late afternoon my body goes into sugar withdrawal, and I tear up the fridge like an addict.
What causes this?
While each person has different triggers, most are as simple as:
Lack of sleep – We tend to think that sugar or caffeine will help us stay awake and focused after a night spent tossing and turning, when in fact this behavior can create the cycle of sleeplessness.
False rewards – Whether it’s watching the kids, or a huge meeting with the boss, we feel like we need rewards to celebrate our achievements. The problem is that once we do this on a regular basis, we need MORE to turn on the pleasure-stat in our brains and it becomes a regular cycle.
Habit – I’m guilty of the 8pm sweet that has become a “regular” thing in my life. If I don’t have something enjoyable (usually an ice cream or some chocolate) in the evening, I feel deprived.
How can we change?
- Substitute that sweet for fiber and protein. A piece of fruit and some good protein take LONGER to eat and are more filling. By passing up that chocolate chip cookie and having an apple and some Greek yogurt, you’re filling up and fueling up at the same time.
- Stop and ask if you’re making a healthy choice? A split second of THINKING about what you are going to consume may be the difference between binging and a healthy snack.
- Substitute fun for food. Read that book you’ve been meaning to, go for a walk BEFORE you dig in, or give yourself a makeover. By “filling up” on experiences rather than junk food, you’ll open up a whole new world, and ditch the stress (and the eating that goes along with it).