Changing habits is hard – even with the best intentions. When it comes to changing your eating habits it is even harder. You have been formulating your eating style since the day you were born with many things influence your eating habits.
The taste of food. The pleasure of taking the first bite. The feel of the food in your mouth. The way it rolls over your tongue and slides around in your mouth – all while enjoying the flavor of flavor and aroma at the same time.
Your food routines. Hearing the beeping of the coffee pot. Watching the clock to take a lunch break. Grabbing that snack when you get home, regardless of if you are really hungry.
Your food experiences. Trying something new, with hesitancy, and really liking it. Not enjoying that food that your friend recommended for the thousandth time.
Your culture. Your emotions. Your knowledge of nutrition. Food marketing. All of these factors contribute to your eating style.
Food is familiar. Food is comforting and full of pleasure.
When you want to change your eating style it can create inner conflict. On one hand you want to make a change – do something good for yourself. Yet on the other hand, although it may not be serving you well, what you have been doing is comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s easy.
Changing habits is a process. It takes acknowledgement that you need to change, acceptance that you want to change, the understanding of knowing what to change, and the action to implement the transition.
The process of changing habits
You live in your circle of comfort. It’s pleasurable, comfortable, easy, and familiar. You may recognize that it’s not in your best interest to stay in your circle but the idea of doing anything different is not on your radar.
Suddenly something happens that makes you more seriously contemplate giving change a whirl. Maybe you find yourself sitting at your desk unable to remember the task you need to work on, or you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and admit that you can treat yourself better than you have been. You recognize and decide that it’s time to move forward. It’s time for a change. That’s when you get introduced to this completely different circle, very close to yours – yet it is different, slightly exciting, but unfamiliar. You decide to give it a try by sticking your head in that new circle. You take a look around, see what it consists of, find the familiarities and the variations, the resemblance and the contrast. You recognize that it’s not as dreadful as you once thought. Then you get sucked back into your circle.
Some time passes and you recognize that while you are very comfortable in your circle, there is that other circle. That circle has hope. It holds possibility. So you give it a try again. This time instead of just sticking your head in the circle you get completely inside of it. You can see the difference, you can smell it, you can taste it, you can feel it. However it is still not quite comfortable. So you get drawn back into your circle again.
More time passes and you do this dance multiple times, each time getting more familiar and comfortable in the new circle. Each time staying longer. It continues to be a contrast to what you have been comfortable with for so long yet is getting easier to stay in. Until one day you find yourself completely emerged in your new surroundings. It is all comfortable. It is no longer new. It has become easy, just as the old circle was.
As we make these changes it is crucial to recognize that each time you step into the new circle it is progress. If you can see it as a step forward, moving in the right direction, rather than with the judgement that you failed, it will allow you to continue down the path of change. The dance back and forth is just the adventure to help you get there. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey!