I did the unthinkable this week. I gave up coffee. For those who know me, coffee is my nemesis. I gave it up not for health reasons, because coffee, in moderation, is not bad for you. I gave it up because it had a hold on me. It was a daily obsession. I was giving too much power to the cup. So, aside from the three days of a pounding headache, I am now fine. But what I really learned through the haze is how we plan our days, activities, and thoughts around the foods and drinks we love.
From the beginning, I had to rethink my daily activities. At 3:00, when I would crave that instant pick-up; during the long spaces throughout the day, when a treat seemed reasonable; weekends as a daily caffeine fest; even writing this blog, unthinkable without my favorite cup of Joe. The link between food and activity is so strong.
When you are trying to lose weight, usually it is the unhealthy snacks or the nighttime noshing that are working against your goals. These habits are hard to break, not just because we love the comfort foods, but because we have made them a part of our daily lives. So when we look to cut these foods out, we have to consider the activities they are attached to. If eating and watching television go hand-in-hand, you will have to create a whole new ritual. If leaving your desk at 4:00 to visit the vending machine is part of your day, you may have to rethink this routine.
Make a list of all the activities you tie to your favorite foods. If cutting certain foods out will leave a void, or make the activity less enjoyable, find something non-food related to take its place. (Many a nighttime eating has been solved by the simple act of knitting). Changing the activity just a bit, or the time of day, can help to break you of a food habit. Consider walking on the treadmill while watching television, instead of eating. At work when the 4:00 craving strikes, seek out a few co-workers to chat with briefly, or take a brisk walk around the office.
Also, think about how eating certain foods are serving you. If your goal is to lose weight and be fit and healthy, are the afternoon cookies really helping you? What would be a better option for the life you envision for yourself?
These days I am working towards less stress in my life, and so I have to look at not only my lifestyle, but even at the foods I eat, to see if these are contributing in any way. In the process, I realized caffeine added to my stress, instead of taking it away.
So now I find myself sipping tea instead of gulping coffee. I have not shunned coffee forever. I will continue to enjoy it at gatherings and with friends, because what is life without these small pleasures? However, now I can choose or not choose to have a coffee. The choice is mine. Coffee no longer has its way with me.