Routine Behavior

Today I ate my packed lunch, went for my lunchtime walk, didn’t eat any of the candy strewn about my office building. Pretty standard things I do every day. In fact, the things I do to manage my weight are fairly monotonous. When I started this blog I thought I’d post every day about the choices I made that day to manage my weight, but I do many of the same things every single day. Pack my lunch, get some exercise, avoid over-consuming, avoid eating things that aren’t on my plan.

In fact, most days, until 5pm there’s no variation in my routine at all. I eat the same breakfast, lunch and snacks every day. Hot cereal, fruit, pre-packaged portion-controlled lunch, fruit, lunchtime walk. Wash, rinse, repeat. I change up the fruits and the veggies with the seasons, I use different cooking methods and play with sauces and spice, but in the end, there’s not a lot of variety in my regular daily routines. The only choice I get most days is dinner, and left to my own devices it’s veggies and grilled, baked, or broiled lean meat every day. I cleave to routine because I like predictable results. My husband gets bored and inventive sometimes with dinner, while keeping my caloric needs in mind. But mostly? I have a time-tested routine that I’ve developed over the years for getting my body the things it needs. I know it works, and it’s easy to implement every day without any special effort. But yes, it’s monotonous.

And I’m totally ok with that. When every meal is an exciting adventure or treat, every meal becomes an excess of calories my body doesn’t need. I have never claimed any modicum of self-control or willpower where food is concerned, so I need to implement systems that work with the personality I have.

I don’t think I’m the only one who can find a benefit in having a stable routine made up of only a few options. Science says that having lots of variety can cause you to eat more than you would otherwise. It’s something known as the “buffet effect”. Basically, the more variety and choices you have, the more you eat because your mouth or your brain recognizes every new taste as a fresh start. Or something like that. I find the same thing when I’m in an environment where there are lots of choices. I think to myself “I’ll be very conservative and just have a small taste of things” but you know what? A small taste of everything I want to taste at a large buffet can end up being more than I would eat of a simple meal I prepare at home.

So my goal is to control my environment when I can, so that the times when I can’t, I can enjoy myself a little bit without guilt or worry. Occasionally I enjoy a fancy meal out, or a donut with my coffee, but not every day. Most days I need to stick to the plan to get the results I expect.


4 Responses to “Routine Behavior”

  1. Princess Dieter Says:

    Same here. Both for me and hubby. We don’t eat the same things every day, but we find it’s easier to have a few thing we rotate. I do find breakfast is only minimally altered. It’s gonna be eggs or egg with a bunch of veggies (scrambled or, usually, omelette) in butter or EVOO with fruit and coffee. Lunch is usually a salad assortment with some protein (steak or chicken or cheese). If I don’t have lunch and just do dinner, dinner is protein with veggies and maybe a serving of starch (rice or potato or starchy Cuban veggie) with fruit.

    I like to switch up the spicing and type of protein, but I almost always steam or saute or bake the veggies and the fruit is almost always raw (I might make a compote to put over yogurt or low carb ice cream as a treat).

    I find that the stability of knowing the PATTERN of what to eat makes life simple and keeps my brain from obsessing about food. I don’t need to learn a lot of cooking dishes. Just enough to whip up the simple meals we do fine by.

    I’m not a gourmet or big cooking person, so the simpler, the better. 😀

    I do find that folks who lose a lot and keep it off learn what works well for them (from my readings) and tend to repeat meals they enjoy and keep to a sort of PATTERN….

    And yeah, I have to stay away from buffets. An array of, not good for me.

  2. Princess Dieter Says:

    I will add that even on date nights when we will splurge at a steakhouse or trendy cafe, I stick to the PATTERN–yeah, it might be a filet mignon instead of chicken or eggs, but I’ll order veggies on the side and not have bread or dessert, unless they have fresh fruit. Or I’ll have roast pork or chicken picatta, etc, but only with veggies, no pasta or bread etc. I might have a brothy veggy-protein soup to start to cut the appetite, but when I eat our, I drink fluids like mad and I’d rather focus on the quality prep meats and veggies and stick to my eating pattern, even if the restaurant uses more fat than I would at home. And I often save some for take-out for next day’s lunch. 😀

  3. dakini_bones Says:

    In India they have a saying “Home food is best food.” I think because you know whats in it and you can control it. Good thinking!
    I personally have no problem eating the same thing for several meals. And I think this whole EVERY MEAL: NEW/ SURPRISING/ AMAZING/ MOUTHGASM! is a product of the advertising industry. And it’s codswallop.
    After a while the taste gets jaded and requires more and more to stimulate it. Which, as you point out, leads to over-eating.
    One of my friends from Central America told me he thought that Americans don’t respect food. We like it, but we don’t respect it. At first I was taken aback, but I really couldn’t disagree.
    Maybe we should be developing an appreciation for our food without it having it be titillation all the time? What would that look like, I wonder? Probably better for the body, mind…and planet!

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