Situations where we have had an outcome opposite to the one we want are chock-a-block full of data.
If, following a “failure”, we put our analyzing hats on, we can discern patterns and triggers that lead to the unwanted outcome. We can then predict our behavior ahead of time based on this information and devise strategies to encourage, or even force, different behavior in future.
I work at home, and late morning, it starts.
Every time the words don’t come. Or I have a task to do that I don’t enjoy. Or I’m bored or lonely.
At the fridge.
If nothing entices me, I move a couple of feet over to the pantry.
My final attempt at finding the treasure is to scan the house with my mind, retrieving images of all the places I store food around our home.
Often, I go back to my desk empty-handed because I just don’t keep the kinds of food I’m looking for (ice cream, cookies, chocolate) in our house.
But if something has snuck in, or I’ve just made something paleo-yummy like my current favorites, Carrot Raisin Muffins from The Paleo Approach Cookbook, I will fall into them face first.
It’s so annoying
And utterly predictable.
It happens over and over again.
So I take steps.
Going for a walk works but requires me to take initiative that I can easily talk myself out of.
Inviting a friend over for a paleo lunch works much better. If we walk first, it’s all gravy. This works because our date is set up ahead of time, I’ve got something to look forward to and it breaks the monotony of hours and hours at home alone with nothing but a long to-do list to keep me company.
However, once my friend is gone, I have a hard time motivating myself back down to work, sooooo….
…my third strategy is to go to our local library. There is no food there.
The hassle of getting up packing away my laptop and walking to the nearest store is way too much to do. And the ambience of a quiet, but not silent, public place makes me tremendously productive.
It occurred to me one day that I didn’t have these recurrent “munchies” when I worked in an office (this was years ago before offices came with hot and cold running food). There was no opportunity, no desire.
Brain food, instead
Now I use all three strategies on different days as necessary. The variety seems to help my brain make good choices.
I worked all this out from noticing my behavior – the behavior I wanted more of, and the behavior I wanted to chase away with a big stick. This could work for you.
It is not your fault
Overeating is not a character flaw. Know that beating the overeating habit is a learning process and is due to the systems we have in place in our lives. If eating when you are not hungry happens in response to a particular situation, look at the things that are going on in your life that are triggering the behavior and deal with those because the problem is always upstream somewhere in your life.
Questions to ask yourself: