Bad Eating Habits
by Patti Helsten Petrella
Let’s take a look at some of our unhealthy food behavior. Most of us use food in some way other
than simple nourishment. What we have to do is learn to use something other than food for our
emotional or physical incentives. Instead of using food, which will make us feel bad and perpetuate
our weight problem, we need to use a coping mechanism that will make us feel better about
ourselves and support our weight loss.
This means taking full responsibility for ourself and our actions. Stop letting yourself off the hook.
Say that you wanted to quit smoking. By taking up running you would be introducing a positive
behavior that will interfere with the negative behavior.
As the new positive behavior becomes established in your life, the old negative behaviors become
weaker and less ingrained. The other aspect of this method is that as you concentrate on
something else, you eliminate the bad habit by not giving it power.
Using activities for sublimating unmanageable eating habits is one of your most effective tools in
weight loss management. First though, you must be aware of when you eat too much and what
If you know you overeat at night in front of the TV set, then you need to replace either the eating or
the TV. For example, you could substitute the eating with knitting or doing exercises while watching
TV. Or you can simply substitute the TV watching, with reading or doing a home improvement
project. The key is to be aware of your self-defeating habits.
The more positive activities that you can think of to replace eating in your most vulnerable
situations; the better off you will be both physically and mentally. Ultimately, remaining in your
negative eating environment will take its toll on your self-esteem.
It does take willpower to make changes in your life, but the payoffs will be more than worth it. Dare
to try new things. Make a list of positive actions you can start introducing into your life. For
example: exercising, taking up a new hobby, writing in a journal, meditating, dancing, spending
more time with a pet, spouse or child, learning more about something that you are interested in,
taking up sports that you have always wanted to try – run. Run a marathon – start training (I
promise you will lose weight in training for a marathon), etc.
The next list to make is of the situations in which you are most vulnerable? Watching TV, using the
Internet, eating sweets at work, comfort food when you are down, when you feel lonely, etc.
Don’t be afraid to really get to know yourself, and have the courage to change the things that are
holding you back. Now that you have the two lists, start inserting the positive activities in the
situations that you know trigger your eating setbacks.
Let’s say that tomorrow you know you are going to watch a football game, and this is a susceptible
situation for you. You need to decide ahead of time that you will either watch it with raw vegetables
as your snacks; that you will draw or paint a picture while you watch it; or that you will listen to the
game on the Ipod while you take the dog for a long walk or run. These are just examples, of
course, but the idea is to have a plan and stick to it.
You have to be strong enough to control your impulse to return to negative eating patterns. How
you become strong is by achieving small successes with your activities, and you will become more
resolute with each small triumph.
So start today, writing down your vulnerable time and situations and then corresponding positive
responses to them. Map out your strategy and stop the mindless self-destructive eating patterns
that have taken you where you are now. Dare to change! Small changes will turn into big rewards
physically and emotionally.
This is a sample of what your food for the day might look like.
Vegetarians will substitute beans, soy products, tofu, tempeh, seitan, or other vegetable proteins
for any meat used in the sample diet.
Breakfast: Eggbeaters French toast made with whole grain bread, topped with fruit, coffee with
fat-free creamer = 1 carb, 1 protein, 1 fruit
Snack: half of whole-grain bagel, fat-free cream cheese = 1 carb, 1 dairy
Lunch: turkey on a salad, cranberries, and green beans = 1 protein, 2 veg., 1 fruit
Snack: fruit smoothie = 1 fruit, 1 dairy
Dinner: vegetarian chili, raw carrots and celery, whole grain roll, and a glass of wine =1
protein, 2 veg., 2 carb
Total = 3 proteins, 4 carbs (starchy), 4 veg., 3 fruits, 2 dairy
This is meant as a sample. We will change this daily.
For the Spirit:
What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life
~ Leo Buscaglia