Change one small thing at a time. When that change is part of your routine, change the next thing. This is the first advice that they give in the HBO documentary “Weight of the Nation”, it is the most important one to follow if you want the rest of their advice to stick.
Since I was old enough to remember, I have always heard my elders and instructors say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In practice it always seemed that dinner was a far more important meal. Dinner took longer to make. It took place at a table where the whole family was present. It took longer to eat. Dinner leftovers got saved. How could breakfast be more important than dinner? For the past few months I have had breakfast every morning, and I can tell you that now I understand (at 53) what they were trying to tell me. Now that I eat breakfast I don’t think about food again until lunch, which means that my body does not think about food until lunch. Your body thinks about food way before it rises to the level of your conscious mind thinking about it. Frying a egg and warming some breakfast meat up for five minutes in the morning while my French Press coffee steeps does not add any time at all to my morning routine, but it frees up my mind and body to think about and do other things for the rest of the day. It was a small change. It is part of my routine.
I used to make a french press of coffee each morning and each of the three cups out of it would get one teaspoon of sugar, and one teaspoon of Coffee-mate non-dairy creamer. If you are counting, that is more than one teaspoon of sugar. For the last two weeks I have stopped using Coffee-mate and I have stopped putting the teaspoon of sugar in. In way less than two weeks I am used to the taste of unsweetened coffee. It’s just as good. It is better in fact because it does not contribute to the plaque on your teeth, or the plaque anywhere else that it may grow due to sugars in your diet. This is a very small change, it is now incorporated. This also goes for iced tea, no more sugar.
For the record I don’t hate sugar, and I don’t think that I plan on avoiding it like poison. However, I think that in the future when I eat sugar it will be the point. When I eat an ice cream, a cake, have a Vietnamese iced coffee, the sugar will be the thing I notice. I will savor the flavor, and I will recognize that I am eating sugar. The problem with the way I ate sugar two weeks ago is that it was going unnoticed. Sugar was an invisible and unaccounted for ingredient in my day. Three teaspoons of sugar plus Coffee-Mate in each morning’s drinks of coffee, two teaspoons of sugar in each glass of iced tea in the evening, ten teaspoons of sugar in that Coke at lunch, teaspoons of sugar in pasta sauces, sugar in breads, sugar hidden in low fat milk, low fat yogurt, low fat anything. Then, you add on the sugar in that ice cream and it’s easy to see how it goes unnoticed.
In the second episode of “Weight of the Nation”, “Choices” there is a scene where people are learning to be mindful of their eating. They wait and think about what they are doing and appreciate all angles of the experience before they begin it. That is the next little thing I am going to incorporate into my life. It is alluded to a little bit above, where I talk about eating sugar only when sugar is the point. Balaclava, where the subtle tastes of honey and rose water make the sweet treat more pleasant than sugar. Ice Cream where the point of ice cream is the velvety wrapping of your tongue in the flavors of fat cream and smoky vanilla. The sugar is the point, and it is special, a treat. Not a treat piled onto all of the sugar that you have had in every bite of food you have eaten all day long.