Addressing a particular habit

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    • #10044

      Hi Gillian and all,

      I was really reassured by your message not to try and tackle all of my addictive desires at once but just tackle one behavior at a time. At first I thought I’d pick the desire to keep eating after I had a big meal but then when I wrote down all the habits I wanted to change I pinpointed the one that really creates the most tension and annoyance for me: snacking. picking and eating when I am preparing food (3-4 times a day, or more when I am preparing food for my daughter). I eat a hell of a lot that way and I feel really out of control. Its almost ritualistic behavior in that I add more and more food to the pan and eat more and more from it. Preparing food is a continual eating activity for me.

      That said, I am not really aware of any desire while I am doing this habit. It seems just like a ritualistic habit. So there is no obvious addictive desire. I’m thinking the way forward would be: One time to try out not just eating while preparing food, then wait for the urge or desire to snack and eat. Then that gives me an addictive desire to work with.

      Do you think that is an approach for when there’s a behavior I don’t like, but no apparent addictive desire? I guess I have been so busy satisfying my desire I haven’t even noticed I had one to begin with. And over time I have totally circumvented that step.


    • #10045
      Renée L


    • #10049

      My answer to your question, Jane, is yes; whenever you don’t go and eat automatically, the addictive desire will tend to become more obvious. I get that you want to begin with this overeating while preparing meals, but it may well be tough to stay conscious throughout, so food may “find it’s way into your mouth” without you noticing just because it’s right there at your fingertips and your mind will wander on to other things most likely.

      A few suggestions with this, and please try whatever you want to see what works best for you in this particular circumstance. One is for you to just take a finite space of time (1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes – whatever challenges you a bit) where you intend to catch and think through your desire before you unconsciously satisfy it. So not the entire food prep for that meal, just a bit of it, with a strong intension to stay conscious at least for that time.

      Another idea is to make it difficult to eat unconsciously by covering your mouth or holding something in your mouth. But only do this if you can see it as a free choice and maybe even a game.

      One more thing is to not necessarily aim for an “all-or-none” result. Maybe put some snacks aside and fully intend to eat them while you are doing the prep, or before you start.

      And finally, know that it will be SO easy for you to ‘go unconscious’ and eat without noticing, so be willing to FORGIVE YOURSELF for all of that and be willing to be on a learning curve. Aim to appreciate even a small, partial success – and then you can build on that over time.

    • #10051

      Thanks, Gillian,

      You’ve nailed the situation – thank you. It is so unconscious. I’m no fan of preparing food and my brain is usually fried from work so my PFC is definitely offline. When I think of it, the monotonous munching is almost a way of getting out of my head.

      So here is what I thinking about:

      I like the idea of taking a finite amount of time – perhaps 3 minutes where I practice thinking through the desire.

      And before I even go to the kitchen, I am going to choose whether to where a mask or not (mandated here so mine is never far away) for a few minutes. I’ll make that choice before going into the kitchen.

      And I like the idea of even addressing this behavior not being an all or nothing thing. Now I feel a whole lot freer (noticing “I have to stop picking” thoughts were there).

      Plenty to go on here – it would be great if I could tone down my picking in the kitchen. I’ll come up with my reasons why.


    • #10053

      Another idea would be to enter the kitchen with the intension of working through your experiences of addictive desire when you happen to notice them. And fully accept that you will most likely do this very badly, with lots of unconscious “mistakes” – and that’s okay and not a reason not to get hopeless about it.

      Then later on, you think you managed to work through and not satisfy 5% of the time, that’s something to build on. And the more you allow the desire into your conscious awareness, the more control you’ll gain.

      Your comment “my brain is fried from work” stand out too, and I wonder how practical it might be to take a 5 or 10 minute break before the kitchen work? Breathe, go stand outside, stretch, lay down, close your eyes, invite happy memories?

    • #10061

      I think the key is to try and gain some consciousness before I enter the kitchen.

      For example, this morning I did an hour or so of work, then thought it was time for breakfast. As I did I noticed an “Urgh – I have to tackle this picking thing thought.” I caught it and asserted that I don’t have to tackle the picking at all. I asserted my free choice. Then I thought about choosing to wear a mask. I chose to wear it for two minutes. I went into the kitchen, wore a mask, and worked through my urge to pick, with the mask on, while I prepared breakfast. I wore the mask the whole time. It felt great not to pick and I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. I enjoyed the whole breakfast experience so much more. I usually return to my desk feeling disgusted by myself.

      That’s the happy story. Yesterday I had had a terrible nights sleep, a long day, a brain fried by work and I simply wasn’t in a good place to go through the whole rigmarole of free choice and addressing my urges.

      So right now, when I feel up to tackling this picking, I might choose to do so. some days I won’t.

      I’ve learned a couple of things:

      Best to give myself a break after work rather than wander mindlessly into the kitchen only to find myself eating
      Best to try and work through the freedom of choice before I go to the kitchen
      It felt good when I took this baby step!


    • #10062
      Barbara R

      That sounds great, Jane! Sounds like you have turned a corner!

      I too am slowly learning to RESPOND rather than REACT. This morning at the grocery store I bought tuna, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds and ummmmmmm, popcorn. Then I picked up a bag of chocolate covered almonds (just in case). Then I responded to my initial thought by putting back the almonds and thinking, “Let’s see if I can survive without the chocolate covered almonds.”

      So far so good!
      Barbara R.

    • #10067

      OK, It is Thursday evening here in Colorado and I am reflecting back over my first day of not picking. Here is what I have:

      1.It feels good to have accomplished something!

      2.I am so amazed at how attached I am to picking. Through exploring the desire I have discovered it is a whole different activity to meal eating. When I want to switch off my brain I go into the kitchen and monotonously munch on stuff

      3.Food felt very unexciting. Actually sitting down for a meal feels incredibly boring. What I enjoyed about meals was the picking beforehand. I think this is one reason I don’t like restaurants. The fun is in the picking.

      4.I’ve felt uncomfortable and disoriented and I ate a lot and kept eating at my evening meal.

      5. If I continue to choose not to pick I’ll start onto my next goal: Eating a big meal and then stopping afterword

      Its almost like I am an overeater and a picker and the two are separate.

      But I am happy I haven’t picked today!


    • #10071

      Dear Jane, I do not love cooking too. It stresses me. But I found out that I am always picking and eating while i am cooking. That makes me nervous too.
      After having a one to one with Gillian I started to put a small amount of what I would like to pick into a small bowl and eat it from that bowl and facing and working through my addictive desire, after I finished this small amount of food while i was cooking. It is healthy vegetables, but it makes me feel out of control if I eat it unconsciously.
      Cooking feels much easier now…I feel more in control
      only wanted to share my experiences…
      best greetings gunici

    • #10073

      Dear Gunici,

      Thank you so much for posting this! I admit I was feeling a bit of a freak – like the only person in the world who struggles with something as trivial as picking. The thing that I have realized after just two days of not picking is that I ate a ton of food picking and felt so out of control. Now I have managed 2.5 days without it I feel a boost of confidence – like I might even be able to take on overeating.

      Right now I am wearing a mask in the kitchen which is covered in food stains where I have unconsciously tried to pick! In a week or so, I am going to try and go maskless. Then I may use the “food to one side” approach that you have outlined.

      Thank you so much!

    • #10105

      Just an update:

      I haven’t picked for a week now and I have stopped wearing the mask when I am in the kitchen. I’m free to pick whenever I want but lately I haven’t wanted to. The benefits are surprising:

      I have so much more time to do stuff in the kitchen now I am not hanging over a pot shoveling in food
      I can prepare lunch, do the washing up, clear up, tidy up – all stuff that creates tension and pressure that I normally end up doing late at night or in the morning when I want to be working
      There’s more of a clearness around what I am eating and not eating
      I feel better about my eating
      I enjoy my meals more
      I feel a sense of freedom.

      I’m keeping the focus on picking through Thanksgiving week and then moving onto my next habit: making a plan around the evening meal, how much food to have, and then working through the addictive desire.

      I think it will take me months to get through all my challenging habits but I am definitely feeling so much more hopeful,


    • #10106
      Barb R

      Wow, Jane, that’s truly an awesome accomplishment! It’s inspiring to hear how well this has worked for you. Thanks for taking the time to give the update.


    • #10396
      Bora Lee

      Thank you for sharing Jane. If is so helpful to hear your observations and the steps you took (are taking) to address one habit at a time.

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