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Monday, July 30, 2012

Some Thoughts on Changing Your Eating Habits

Change is difficult. I tried to change my hairstyle once when I was in my early 20’s, but was met with too many, “Hey, what’s up with your hair?” comments to hang in there. I bailed and went back to old ‘do, pretending that it was all some sort of a practical joke. (This made me feel better about the laughs I received as they no longer meant that people liked my hair about as much as they did Jar Jar Binks, but instead that my practical joke was a success!)

Even those of us who experience a bit of a rush when we encounter change, typically don’t do well to change too much, too fast. We are creatures of habit, of comfort. Especially the older we get. Whether it’s because we enjoy the taste of our sacred cows (or our sacred organic vegetarian soup), or because a different road appears crowded with shadowy creatures, sometimes we’d rather just sit tight.

Sometimes, too, change can feel like drinking from a fire hydrant. Perhaps we want to change, but the task can appear so daunting, and the journey so long, that maybe we just don’t feel like we have the energy. And maybe this is how a lot of us feel when thinking about changing our eating habits.

Perhaps the Lays KC Masterpiece BBQ chips and Long Johns just taste too good! Or we don’t even know where to begin. Or maybe we know that in just a few short days we will fail, anyhow, and revert back to our old ways and so we think, “What’s the use? Why bother?”

So to encourage you, I thought I would offer up a few thoughts to consider when changing your eating habits that might help along the way.

  1. Start small – I remember the time I tried to learn to speak Spanish…all in one day. I dropped a mint to buy my Rosetta Stone (all 6 levels), I was motivated, impassioned…and a bit naïve. Big changes cannot be made in a day. They take time. So relax and start small. Change one or two meals a day. Find a few new “good for you” foods that you like and ditch some crummy ones. See how it feels, and then build on it. After all,  “Cualquier cosa es posible!”
  2.  Have grace for yourself – Life is about failure. Get over it. Unless you are willing to fail, you will never do anything worth chatting about at parties. But think kindly of yourself and don’t berate yourself when you drop the ball (that never helps…ever…ever.)…but don’t give up either. Eugene Peterson said that Life is about a “long obedience in the same direction.” Though he wasn’t talking about eating habits, it still applies. If you want to change the way you eat…head in that direction each day. And eat some apples along the way!
  3. Cheat…every now and again – While some of you may be able to go Cold Turkey, the rest of us typically find it extremely difficult and often end up swimming in guilt after we cheat (or even binge). So take a few (just a few) times a month to indulge in an old favorite, like a Chili Cheese Burrito from Taco Bell. Or a chocolate cake covered with gummy worms with a Big Mac for the filling and your name written on top with French fries. Err…then again…maybe just go with the Chili Cheese Burrito. (Seriously, though, don’t overdo it, and don’t feel guilty about it.)
  4. Rethink food – Food is fuel. It’s important that we learn to eat to live, not live to eat. Certain foods are just better fuel then others. Find the ones you like, and fuel up! 

Any other tips for changing eating habits? Leave them in the comments below.

Change is good. But it isn’t always easy. And by the way, a few months after my “practical joke” ‘do…I got bored and decided to rock another new one. The masses loved it – and I’ve been rocking it for the last 12 years. Woot woot!

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