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Here’s Why Habitual Behavior Makes It Difficult to Lose Weight

Posted Oct 30 2012 5:00am

How do I stop eating so much and eating all the wrong foods when I do it without thinking?

Now you might say tsk tsk, you should be ashamed of yourself. Who are you fooling? What do you mean “without thinking”?

But that’s just it; it really happens this way—without even thinking. After all it’s a habit, and that’s part of the description of a habit. It can happen without you even thinking about it. Before you know it, you’ve done it. In fact, you might be thinking about something else entirely when you’re doing something by force of habit.

So what’s that say for changing a habit? How do you go about changing a habit that you’re not aware you’re doing, and you do it before you know it? Let’s go outside the realm of food for an example. Say you’ve been keeping napkins in the right-hand drawer in your kitchen. But yesterday you rearranged your kitchen and it made more sense to you to put the napkins in the left-hand drawer, about 4 or 5 feet from where they were before. For the next week or so, every time you need to put out napkins you go right,  sometimes even opening the old napkin drawer before you realize you’ve moved the napkins. After some muttering under your breath, you decide that the next time you will remind yourself before you automatically reach for napkins that the napkins are now in the left-hand drawer.

In other words, the secret to how not to be a creature of habit is to become aware of what you are doing. You could set a goal for yourself to make sure that as part of your weight-loss regimen, you will heighten your awareness. Since your eating habits are often at the end of a chain of events (Someone hurts your feelings. You criticize yourself later for not saying something, and you criticize yourself again for never saying anything when someone hurts your feelings, and by then you’ve put yourself in a lousy mood. Someone calls and you think you were too curt with them, and now you feel guilty as well. Then—before you know it you’ve popped something in your mouth), it would be good if you heightened your awareness of the entire habit pattern, not just the food part.


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