Old habits die hard

Cookie minus bite
There's a lot of food in my house right now that is normally vetoed. Food like sugar cereals, ice tea powder, regular sandwich meats, white flour and sugar, cookies made of the white flour and sugar, and on and on it goes…

Having guests who eat these foods, such as our current homestay students, brings with it an intense struggle for me. I would have thought that struggle would be gone by now, but continue to be surprised by how often it comes right back.

I'm eating this junk simply because it's there.

Are you surprised? The one who teaches about health food and avoiding processed and sugary convenience foods is eating them just because they're in her house?

Yes, and I'll tell you why. It brings me back to the food that I ate as a child, teenager and young adult. I find it familiar, habitual and strangely comforting.

Even though I certainly do not desire to eat that way anymore and actually haven't (overall) for more than 5 years, it still shocks me how easily I fall prey to it once again.

It feels as though there's a level of addiction that still lingers in me. These foods only seem to create constant craving in me, yet never satisfy me (isn't that the truth?). They lure me back in. Perhaps they create more addiction than I ever realized before.

The head knowledge is primarily what keeps me away from it, as I know why it's not good for me and why I ought to eat better. BUT, when it's right there in front of me, even head knowledge and good intentions are not necessarily enough. And so I grab another handful of Honey Nut Cheerios and finish off the day with one (or two) of those chocolate chip cookies.

The moral of my story is this: If I put myself in temptation's way, I am bound to be struggle.

For me, this means I don't bring it in my house. Usually, I don't have a problem with this, and that is how I actually hold fast to the style of eating that I believe in. It's not because I am nutrition wonder-woman, or because I am highly self-disciplined. It's not because I have incredible self-control or because I don't think that stuff tastes good anymore (trust me, I grew up eating it- I know darn well that it tastes good, although I am so blessed to see how my taste buds have changed over the years to the point where most nourishing foods now taste far better than all of the other garbage).

Quite simply, if I don't want to eat it, I shouldn't allow it to be around in the first place. Maybe many of you would find the same to be true for yourselves. If you just stopped buying the chocolate milk powder and the potato chips and the Oreos and the case of pop (and all of the other things that may end up in our carts, just for an "occasional treat"), maybe you would find that you wouldn't eat them. You'd make do without. And you would feel satisfied doing it. I'm just saying…

I eagerly (eagerly!) anticipate clearing out the shelves of my pantry and fridge in two weeks when our guests return home, to return to our simple, whole foods diet. I also eagerly anticipate the 3 week sugar fast and nutrient-dense diet that I will be putting our entire family on. All is not lost. If I slip up today, I can pick up where I left off tomorrow.

For now, I'm considering walking around wearing horse blinders, and am praying for a mighty big helping of self control! No, I will not have a glass of iced tea… no, I will not have (another) handful of chocolate chips… no, I will not eat a spoonful of Jiffy peanut butter… sigh.

Do others out there struggle with reverting back to old habits of eating? What triggers it for you (stress, grief, depression, or simply being near it like me)? How do you deal with those old cravings? Am I the only one that needs to strictly ban things from entering the house?

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  1. Totally! If it’s in the house, I’ll eat it… especially since I’m always in the house! It was much better to be disciplined when I was working.

    One of my pitfalls is baking for company. They have a slice or two and I’ll polish off the rest of the loaf when they’re gone. The other is nuts. Not bad in itself, but the handfuls (oh, and almonds and chocolate chips are so good together) add up very quickly!

  2. Stephanie, I’m right there with you on this one! I was doing so good with eating really healthy for almost 2 years (with some slip ups here and there). And then in June, our family took a 10 day road trip to Yellowstone and we took a lot of processed foods with us because that’s the kind of food that keeps in a car for 10 days. 🙂 Ever since, I’ve really been struggling. I think research is finding more and more that once a sugar/refined food addict–always one. Just like an alcoholic. I believe it. Just one bite and I’m sunk. We don’t usually keep any of that kind of stuff at our house, but the difficulty comes in going out to eat and making good choices. I feel like Paul in Romans 7. I know the right thing to do, but I just can’t seem to do it. What’s working for me right now is my husband…I asked him to be firm with me whenever we go out to eat. He is a lot more level headed, and when I’m hungry I think I make poorer choices. So, he makes the choices for me at restaurants. It works well. And I also have found that really meditating on verses that remind me that I am to glorify God with my body helps if there is bad food in the house. Maybe you could hang a big Bible verse up on your pantry door. Anyway, this is really long comment now, but I just want to say, don’t be discouraged!

  3. Oh yes, I struggle with this too! Unfortunately, my family and friends (knowing full well that I’ve changed my lifestyle) purposely tempt me with all kind s of goodies…

    I’ve battled binge eating disorder for years, from childhood on! I will actually be posting a little more about that tomorrow…

  4. Oh the struggle! I’m having a hard time myself right now as we’re working on potty training and therefore have ‘potty’ treats in the house! (yea, you went potty! One for you, two for me!)And today is a birthday so I have a big ‘ol cake sitting in my fridge. If it’s there, I will eat it. I too am able to be self disciplined if I can just keep it out of my house to begin with!

  5. Yes, I agree, proximity and having the foods in the house definitely make it very easy to stumble back into those eating habits. Another thing for me has also been the prices of food at the store. I have such a difficult time stomaching paying $25 for a whole free range organic chicken from the chicken guy at the farmer’s market, when a whole chicken at the grocery store is only $2 on sale. I find myself making compromises recently just due to cost even though I told myself I wouldn’t do it.

  6. I can totally relate and understand. In my case, it is mainly when I visit my family. It’s like there is this automatic unhealthy habit that just turns on when I visit my folks. My eating problems started when I was younger and were encouraged by one side of the family and discouraged by the other side. Therefore… i became Really big.

    When I moved 3 provinces away, I had no trouble at all with my healthy lifestyle. Now that I am back to my original province, 3 hours from my folks, it is SO much harder when I visit. Once I get home it is still hard with fast food places everywhere, a donut shop at work, etc…

    I am instilling much healthier habits with my daughter and it is working wonders. I keep some sweets in the house and some chips (for hubby)but they are the kinds that i don’t ADORE.

    It’s always good to see we are not alone.

  7. Once I changed my eating habits, my extended family acted as though I was trying to be “better” than them, and tempts me constantly, and gets miffed if I don’t eat their way!
    I think all addictions are for life – for me anyway, I will always be in a constant state of “recovery”.

  8. Thanks all! It helps to know that I am not the only one who struggles and needs to keep these foods far, far away.

    Brook, sure, maybe I will post about what I am doing within the next week or two, as I plan for it.

  9. This summer has been a gradual, then quick slide into junk food. I don’t even think in most houses it would seem like junk food, but store bought granola bars?? And chocolate covered pretzels?? We had 2 sets of house guests and we’re still eating our way through what is left. I had the strength to throw some of it away – a little tiny bit, but I was happy about that. But I feel, I don’t know, puffy, and I want to get back to feeling good!!

  10. Heavens! This is ME you’re talking about! (Recently dh was accosted by a girlscout with Thin Mints – my favorite and delightful with whole, raw milk!). If it’s in the house, it’s in my mouth. I grew up the same and now what gets me is the hunger of being pregnant or nursing. This is where I loose control – when I most need to be healthy! I absolutely DON”T buy junk for the house and I ask guests to take theirs home if they bring it for a social event.

    Sugar/white flour is soooo addictive and wrecks my mood and energy level. With me, I know I have an underlying sin issue about food/control/instant gratification/emotional medicating! People (even believers) don’t realize that our enemy uses junk to keep us cranky and unhealthy so that he can have a better attack at our spirits.

    I just want to be eating NT all the time… but I’m not quite there yet. Very glad to have you blog to encourage me though!

  11. I am so excited to have found your website and to be receiving your emails! A few years ago I began to realize a great need to change my diet to a more organic diet. I read The Maker’s Diet and bought Nourishing Traditions. I agonized about how to find just the right healthy foods. I now buy mostly organic foods at Trader Joes and a local health food co-op called PCC as well as at Whole Foods. Sometimes I shop at Farmer’s Markets. My husband and I have a vegetable garden at a community garden and we shop at the farm market that owns the community garden for whatever they have that is fresh that we need and don’t have yet from our garden.

    I live in the Seattle area, and I find it hard to keep within a reasonable grocery budget. I feel you have a lot to teach about how to be frugal and shop organic at the same time.

    I was delighted to find out today that you live in the Vancouver area just north of me.

    My parents and brothers and sisters don’t like to buy organic because it costs too much. They are used to being frugal and don’t understand the difference other than the cost. They are also pretty much locked into old eating habits of lots of sweets and starchy foods.

    My husband and I are working on getting out of debt, so we need to become more frugal with our grocery budget than we are, but it is difficult. In addition, I love food so much and need to learn to reign that in. I need to lose weight and to reduce my blood sugars due to a recent diagnosis of early diabetes, which I have begun to reverse by bringing my blood sugars down through diet, exercise, and weight loss. I have quite a ways to go, though.

    My husband is totally on board with me about wanting to eat healthy and organic and wanting to work on health issues. Fortunately for our budget, but unfortunately for what I have always hoped for, we are not able to have children, so there are just the 2 of us in our family.

  12. Welcome, Virginia! I hope you find some encouragement here- sounds like you are on quite a journey! I’m very sorry to hear about your health issues. It’s wonderful that you and your husband are agreed on learning to eat healthier, and get out of debt! Blessings!

  13. I am so horrible about this. I really want to eat more whole foods and change out lifestyle permanently but I always seem to go back to those foods that have nothing of value in them. mainly because they are the foods I grew up with and they bring a bit of comfort and familiarity with them.

    It’s not an easy thing but I hope I can work on this.

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