Here is my top 10 list of why we eat when we’re not hungry.
- Someone said we must eat 3 meals plus snacks daily, or we’ll die. Seriously.
- We have nothing else to do, so we eat.
- We’re addicted to it, and we eat more sugar.
- Comfort food is sooooo yummy.
- To deal with our stuff.
- To be social – someone took the time to make something, so I better eat it.
- The clock said so, or see #1.
- We love the crunchy, salty, savory, sugary feel and taste.
- Mom said to clean your plate.
- Wine is best paired with good food.
What do all of these have in common? They are related to habits. A Duke University study says at least 45% of our waking behavior is habitual. While we’d like to believe “we’re in charge,” we’re driven by our subconscious or unconscious mind. It’s amazing and yet disturbing. Happily, there has been an increase in grounded findings based on neuroscience that has helped clear a path over the last few years. To build an effective NEW habit, you need five essential components:
- A compelling reason
- A trigger
- A new micro-habit
- Effective practice
- A plan
Easy stuff, right? Yeah, right! I used to be a serious grazer, especially at night. I can look back at that time and know the trigger was sitting at the kitchen table after dinner and watching mindless TV.
My compelling reason was to improve my overall health. I now know the snacking did nothing except trigger an insulin response telling my body to store the excess food as fat, which it did flawlessly!
The trigger was staying at the kitchen table after dinner. I wanted the crunchy, salty, savory, or sweet something.
My new micro habit was to leave the table. Oh duh! I would read, meditate, and write but left the table. How simple was that? Holy cow.
I’d practice in small chunks. After leaving the table, I would find new habits like reading, walking the dog for 10 – 15 mins.
When I stumble and stay at the table after dinner, the plan is not to beat myself up or say I’m a loser. I’m resilient and will do better the next day. Beating yourself up with shame and guilt is something so many people do. Just let that sh*t go.
When you put all this together, you’ve created a new habit. Voila! This stuff is simple but not easy to execute. It’s hard to change your lifelong behaviors and it takes courage to make a change. Go easy on yourself.