Thursday, March 8, 2012

Habit:

noun
1.
an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.
2. customary practice or use: Daily bathing is an American habit.
3. a particular practice, custom, or usage: the habit of shaking hands.

Yesterday I was picking up my daughter from my mom and step dad who were babysitting her while I was working a WW meeting. When I got to the house, I was hungry as all get out so I rummaged through the cabinets and finally ended up making myself and egg sandwich. When I was leaving I said to my mom "Thanks for feeding me.......again.....seems like I'm always hungry when I'm here."
LIGHT BULB MOMENT!!!

Am I really hungry every time I'm there?

Rewind a few years: For a good portion of my life, all of which I was overweight and struggled with my addictions to food, I grew up in that house. As most of us who struggle with their addictions to food, when I walked in the house as a teenager, I headed right for the kitchen.  I would stuff my face until I was full then go about the rest of my at-home business.

So it hit me. I'm probably not really hungry every time I'm there (although last night I genuinely WAS hungry!), it's just HABIT for me to eat when I walk in my mom's house. It's so ingrained in my food-demented mind even now, even living this healthy, fit life, and even though I make myself healthy food, I STILL feel the need to eat every time I'm there.
Just the other day my boyfriend had been telling me about a guy he heard on NPR (National Public Radio). He explained how the guy was talking about how we form habits, how habits change, and how stores use our habits to market to us in a way that makes them the most money. I will leave the marketing aspect out of this but if you want to read the full article, you can do so here. 

Basically, this guy explaines something called a "habit loop", which is a three part, habit forming, process. 
  1. There is a cue or trigger that causes your brain to go into automatic mode. (Walking into my mom's house)
  2. The behavior itself. (Eating)
  3. The reward - probably a surge of dopamine that makes your body feel good, causing your brain to remember that it likes whatever that behavior is. (My body thinking it's satisfied and that's what I needed.)

I'll spare you the scientific jargon but this is basically how it works:

There are 2 parts of your brain involved in this particular equation - the decision making part and then the emotional, pattern, and memories parts.

*notice "emotions" and "patterns" in the same sentence??? Coincidence? I think not. In many of our families, and especially Italian families, memories are made in the kitchen! Gathering around a table with a food spread, laughing, and spending time. It's time to make memories elsewhere!!

My momma and I (in the kitchen!) last Mother's Day
.......I digress......

 As soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision making part of your brain essentially goes to sleep and you are on autodrive. I.e. having a conversation while driving a car - you don't need to really think about driving the car too much, it's automatic.

SOOOOO......

How what do I do about it?

There are are thousands of tips how to change a bad habit all over the internet but here is my semi-educated advice:

Like with anything, the first step to solving a problem is identifying the problem itself. We need to identify our bad habits and accept that they are, in fact, bad habits. I believe I have done this in the case of eating at my mom's house.

Next, we have to tell someone our bad habits. This holds us accountable for when we go to do that behavior, as we will know that the person we told is (hopefully) around and watching. My mom was with me when I had my lightbulb moment so now every time I go to eat over there, I will know she is thinking about it and I hope that it will help me refrain from my unnecessary eating.

Then we have to actively choose to change the habit and make better habits. I have decided that when I go to my mom's, I will go to the play room with my daughter instead of heading right for the kitchen. This will require me to be consciously thinking about what I'm doing when I'm there.


I hope that wasn't too long-winded!! As soon as I had my lightbulb moment, my mind was on overdrive. My mom warned me to not burn out overthinking it (she knows her daughter too well!) but I knew there had to be a blog that came of it!


Here's to kicking the old habits and making new, healthy, habits from here on out!!

43 comments:

Rosario said...

Wow! I do that too! As soon as I walk into my Mom's house, I look to see what she has made to eat. Or I look for those cookies on top of the microwave. Thanks for posting about this topic.

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It is all over my house...

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