Healthy eating habits can be habitual…When you create your own snack ritual!
Healthy eating habits easily establish themselves–almost like magic–by good timing. If you often snack on unhealthful food, here’s an idea for you. Identify the time of day you’re most likely to eat something impulsively. Then plan a formal snack for yourself.
If the urge strikes you about the same time, there must be some trigger that tells you that you need to eat. It could be the time your shift ends, or when the kids get home. Maybe it’s when the clock says four, when the catering truck pulls up, or when a certain TV program ends. Maybe it’s just when you become aware that your stomach is growling. Whatever that trigger is, you need to use it as a signal that it is your snack time.
I’m not talking about an impulsive, let-me-see what’s-in-the-fridge hunt. Your snack will be thoughtful, and planned. You’re going to choose good healthful food. You’re going to make sure you have it or that it’s something you can buy when the time comes.
If the food comes in a multiple serving package, you’ll count or measure out as much as you have decided to eat. If you’re at home, you’ll put it on a plate.
The best snack for a healthy diet…Is eaten where you find some quiet
You’re going to make a decision about where you eat your snack – someplace you can sit down. As much as possible you should always go to the same place. At home you’ll want to sit at the dining table. If you’re at work, find a quiet place in the break room, or go out onto the patio and sit. If you have no other choice, eat at your desk, but consciously put your work away for a few minutes.
Any elements you can repeat each time you snack help make the experience more vivid.
You may want to include objects – light a candle, use the same plate, or put out a picture of a loved one. Savor the moment each time you go through the ritual; be aware of the order you take things, each nuance, and each movement you make.
This addition to a healthy lifestyle…Works because your snack’s worthwhile
All this focus will make the experience dependably satisfying. it’s your personal version of a Japanese tea ceremony.
A tea ceremony is extremely ritualized. Participants sit in a kneeling position. They place specialized utensils in a specific location. The entire ceremony is a sequence of practiced moves: preparing the tea bowl before making the tea, folding a linen cloth used for wiping the tea bowl, ladling the hot water from the tea pot, adding the tea to the tea bowl and mixing it. Every move is deliberate and consistent from one tea ceremony to the next. Here’s a popularized version of what
Tea ceremony participants know exactly what’s going to happen at each step. And that’s the goal for you in creating your snack ceremony.
Why do rituals like the tea ceremony feel so good? It’s relaxing and calming to know exactly what is going to happen and what we need to do. The more consistent you make the experience, the more you’ll feel in control. The more the snack ceremony becomes habit, the more you can focus on engaging your senses and getting more stimulation from the food. This small part of your day can become an oasis of calm in a desert of chaos.
By now, it must be clear that it’s not really about the food. And really, it never has been. We don’t need to eat between meals to survive, or even to fuel ourselves. We eat between meals because it breaks the monotony, because we want to reward ourselves. We snack not because we need to but because it fulfills some other need. It’s motion and emotion.
Your ritualized snack is going to provide you those things without wrecking your commitment to eat healthfully. It’s going to arm you against stray impulses. Imagine how great you’re going to feel when you can say to yourself, “No, I’m going to wait and have my snack, because that’s what I really enjoy.” and stick to your new healthy eating habit.