Last year my husband and I were doing some serious house-hunting. We went through oodles of neighborhoods, looked at house after house, and time flew by. Before we knew it, it was well past our normal lunch time and we were starving. On our way home we stopped by an IHOP. Even though it was mid-afternoon, we both ordered French toast and it was absolutely delicious.1 By the time our typical dinner time rolled around a few hours later, I wasn’t hungry at all, but I still had an urge to eat. Logically, I knew I was full, but the desire of putting a fork to my mouth was strong. As I contemplated my next move, I wondered what was causing this mind and body tug-of-war.
Honestly, I didn’t know the answer at first. It wasn’t until I looked at two of my food tendencies that I figured it out.
Food Tendency #1: Eating a scoop of ice cream after dinner.
Food Tendency #2: Eating something crunchy before bedtime.
I would eat these foods whether or not I was hungry and I realized that I was eating them out of habit. Did I dislike the foods? No, but it was not so much a craving for a specific food as it was a craving for routine. Working through this became a new goal of mine because I wanted to actually listen to my body rather than just eat a certain way because that was what I’d always done.
Here are the steps I used to deal with this habit of eating:
- Identify the habit. I examined my patterns of behavior, and, once I noticed a pattern, I was able to take steps to intervene.2
- Insert another activity. I broke up the string of actions by inserting another activity for 5-10 minutes. Letting myself get immersed in something else for a bit helped me keep my mind off of the habit.
- Check-in. I then re-evaluated by mindfully homing in on my body and asking myself I was actually hungry.
- Determine the next step. If I was hungry, then I’d eat! However, there were times when I wasn’t hungry but still wanted food. I would then take a moment to examine the reason for that hunger such as deprivation or something emotional.
I have come to accept that I am a creature of habit and my body is happy with structure, but flexibility is finding its way into my life. Sure, I still feel all out of sorts when I am off my eating schedule for whatever reason,3 but now I take a deep breath and just go with it for the day.
1Actually, I think breakfasts foods are great any time of the day!
2And you can do the same! Do you snack right after dinner? Do you eat while watching TV? Do you eat right when you get home from work?
Thank you so much for reading my blog! I am honored that you chose to read about my experience.
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