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Mindful Eating Detour: Habit

Note: I noticed a while ago that I had drifted away from many aspects of mindful eating. It took me a while to figure out why I got detoured. It was a combination of things, so this is part of a short series looking at all those elements. Also, for more information about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, visit or my website.

Do you ever get in the habit of doing something that works for you? And you get so used to it that you don’t stop to consider if it’s still working?

I find this happens to me in different areas of life, including food. I can get stuck in the habit of eating certain foods and certain amounts. If I’m not paying attention, I repeat that, without really thinking about if it’s what I want or how much I need.

It doesn’t help that the diet mentality encourages this way of thinking. It’s all based around the concept that if something works one day, it will work the next. So you just keep doing the same thing over and over.

Except this habit and inertia ignores important truths. Like the fact that my activity level isn’t always the same day to day, so how much I need might vary. Or depending on the time of month, or time of year, I may want different foods, or different amounts.

It’s especially tempting to slide into routine when life gets busy or challenging in other ways. It’s easy, after all. And sometimes easy is exactly what we want.

And it’s not that taking the simple route, or being carried by inertia, is always bad. But it does have consequences. It might carry you to a place you don’t want to go.

It’s also tricky because the longer you stay in that habit, the harder it can be to break out of. Until something forces you out of it.

In my case, nothing happened to make me question my food habits, specifically. Rather, other life events got me rethinking a lot of things, including food.

That’s when I realized I had fallen into a routine that I didn’t stop to question. When I sat down to look at my habits, I realized they weren’t bad, per se, but that blindly following them might not be serving me well.

I also discovered that I stuck with the habits for more than convenience. It was also a little bit of fear.

For instance, I had a couple of breakfast foods I almost always ate. If I changed that, or had less, would I get hungry earlier than I wanted? Would something else take longer to prepare?

But I decided I didn’t want to stick with habit simply out of fear of change. I reminded myself that I like to experiment with food. And I like variety.

Plus, having something new didn’t mean I could never have the old foods. But it would be better to make these choices consciously, and decide in a given day what I actually wanted and how much I needed.

And here’s the funny thing. Once I started paying attention again and eating more mindfully, the fear went away. The change felt good.

So now, my new habit is to pay attention to my habits and make sure they’re not bringing me somewhere I’d rather not go.

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