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Habit Making vs. Habit Breaking

I’ve kept a food log pretty consistently for the past 4 years. It’s taken me down 20 pounds and back up almost as many. This boomerang trend proves I’ve developed some bad habits.

1. To lose the weight in 2006/07, I exercised compulsively and limited myself to 1200 nutrient-free calories per day. Talk about a sucker punch to my system! As I lost weight, my skin became dull, my hair was brittle and thin, and I was miserable.

2. I was weighing myself multiple times each day, weighing my food, and altering my meals to immediately affect the number on the scale.

3. I became overly sensitive about my meals and food choices. No way could you have a bite of my dinner! I’d carefully calculated those calories and they were mine!

4. And you better have gotten out of my way when it was dessert time. That ice cream/dark chocolate/bowl of trail mix may be 600 calories, but it was mine!! I’d allotted those calories and didn’t I deserve one enjoyable food? Except I wasn’t even enjoying dessert anymore. Scoops of ice cream were devoured in seconds so no one would notice how much I’d had, or ask for a bite (heaven forbid!).

When I started regaining weight, each and every binge was documented. At first, I got in the habit of beating myself up for my ‘failures’ every day. Then I started developing some healthier habits. I began reading other blogs, experimenting with healthier food choices, tried my first green monster and even got a juicer for my birthday!

Even though I haven’t lost any of the weight I regained last spring, my weight has been steady for about a year and I think it’s time to start tackling one of the few bad habits that remains from the beginning of my food journaling days: TOO MUCH DESSERT!

I’ve noticed that, like many people, my munchy time is after dinner. Whether I’m watching a movie, studying, or chatting on the phone, I like having a snack. And there’s only one thing I love more than snacks – dessert! Dessert is this perfect, planned excuse to snack on sweet, decadent treats. But do I really need to have dessert every day? Rather than something I’m entitled to, shouldn’t I see dessert as a true treat?

When reviewing my food log for the past two months, I saw I was eating progressively smaller (and certainly more hurried) dinners, just to get to dessert. That’s no way to live! I’m finally learning to make good dinners so I should be enjoying those too!

So, for the next 14 days, I’m going to pass on dessert in honor of appreciating what should be the last real meal of the day. And I’m going to keep logging my food to see if any changes occur naturally. Will I crave sweeter foods throughout the day? Will I lose my sweet tooth? At the very least, I’m hoping I’ll eat dessert a little more mindfully when I do reintroduce it. We’ll see!

Do you always eat dessert? If so, why?

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6 Responses

  1. I don’t eat desserts, but I always have a vanilla Greek yogurt mixed with either cereal or fruit before I go to bed. Knowing that I’m going to have that, keeps me from eating dessert.

  2. Guilty – I’m totally guilty. I finish dinner sometimes and then immediately think…but what do I have in the house for dessert? For lent this year, I gave up all desserts and man was it tough. I started eating fruit after dinner to get my sweet fix and that helped a bit. I did end up cheating here and there. But I think my giving it up for a bit made me see that I don’t always need it. Sometimes I really am full, it’s just become the norm and my body only thinks it needs dessert. Goodluck – I think you’ll do great!

  3. I never used to – but I find that I do crave something a little sweet after dinner. I have tried to up protein in my dinner to see if that helps :)

  4. Oh girl, I feel you. I have a very similar dessert problem. I eat it regardless of whether or not I’m hungry for it, so it’s definitely all in my head. I even have to have a little piece of dark chocolate after lunch. Over the past 2 years or so, I’ve become less into snacking between meals, which means I’m eating more substantive and nutritious meals 3x/day, which is a good thing for me, but dessert remains the monkey on my back. Definitely something I hope to work on, or at least get back to my previous habit of a bit of chocolate + a bit of dried fruit. How is it now that all dessert but cake and ice cream is dead to me?! I guess the 10 pounds I’ve gained back tell the tale. :(

  5. I actually never eat dessert — I used to have a sweet tooth, but I think I may have outgrown it? But I sometimes want a little more of my dinner after dinner, which becomes dinner shift #2!!! :-)

    This is such a brave post, and I am so glad that you’ve embraced more nourishing self care habits! xox

  6. Wow, I totally had a similar love/hate relationship with a food journal. They can be both a blessing and a curse!

    When I was younger I had a super sweet tooth. Literally I could eat a dozen of cookies! In college + the sweet tooth just disappeared. I like to pretend it’s because of my healthier kale-ful eating habits. I rarely eat it.

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