The Equation of Habits (Part I)
Ever wonder why it's so hard to Eat right AND Exercise. Well, that's because their is a lot going on underneath that head of yours. To start, let's look at the three parts of what we know as a Habit "Loop"
1. The Cue 2. The Routine 3. The Reward. Along with the three stages, we will incorporate some other thought provoking ideas that will hopefully get you thinking, and then get you started into some ideas like mindful eating and/or portion control that you can carry into this year.
To start, let’s change the idea of WATCHING WHAT you eat, into AWARENESS WHILE you eat. Awareness means being in the present with every delicious bite. So quickly do we not even give thanks for the food we have in our mouth at that moment, because we are too distracted thinking about what we are going to be shoving in next. The best part about being aware while you eat vs. watching what you eat, is you get to enjoy every bite and not feel one bit shameful! TRUST ME!
There are generally five cues that people start people in a Habit. They are; location, time, emotional state, other people, and an immediately preceding action. Considering the holidays cover ALL 5 of those cues, we may be on to why it is so difficult to eat less during this time of year. You are usually at some point not at your own home (location), Christmas Season (Time), Around Family who is also over indulging (Emotional State), Around Family (Other People), and of course opening presents means shoving your face full later;)
If your routine (whether at a holiday party or an office party) is to load up your first plate with everything there is to try so you don’t miss out on anything, don’t worry, you’re not alone. If you are willing to try something new, and begin your practice into mindful eating and portion control, then maybe you’d be interested in trying the 80/20 rule. The rule states 80% of what I put on my first plate will be nourishing and will cause me more happiness than harm. The other 20% will consist of gravy, stuffing, and the many other delicacies that we think we like a lot of, but really we like only a moderate amount.
Think if you have ever had a really rich dessert. After a few bites, it takes more willpower to eat more of it, than it does to put the fork down. Our brain wants to work with us, only if we want to work with our brain. Another benefit to mindful eating, is that we are able to take more time not only in savoring, but in allowing our amazing body to do what it is meant to do which is digest at a moderate pace. It takes 20 minutes (give or take), for food to enter the stomach, fill it, and then have the stomach receptors send messages to the brain that you are in fact full. If you give your body time to digest, a second plate probably won’t be as appetizing, as you will want to save some room for those rich desserts;)
For now, let this sink in. No habit can be formed without a plan or without practice. In part II of this series, I will go more into the Habit Loops Part II and III (The Routine and the reward).