Friday, January 2, 2009

Making Distraction Work

One of the things I learned at Emory while doing the OPTIFAST program was not to try to stop a habit without replacing it.  For example, if I want to stop having an after dinner snack, instead of just trying to stop having the snack, replace the snack with the ritual of making a cup of tea.  Or perhaps something even healthier - making a cup of tea and spending some time journaling.   Starting the replacement habit provides a distraction from thinking about what you're not doing.  
I've forgotten that strategy lately but I'm pulling it back into my toolbox as I work to make hunger assessment, satiety assessment, food choice assessment automatic habits for me.  This means that as I assess my hunger levels at my usual eating times and find myself unhungry - I need to have some healthy distractions planned.

So - mid morning snack.  Not hungry?  A quick walk around the office followed by a cup of tea.
Right after lunch sweet.  Not hungry (I shouldn't be) Another walk around the office, followed by a cup of tea or coffee.  Coffee cuts the sweet craving.

See the trend?  Perhaps I'll set up a bowl with filled with slips of paper with healthy distraction ideas written on them.  And every time I think about food - I pull a slip of paper and do the distraction.   I like that.


  1. I'd not thought about replacing a habit with another. Hmmm...very interesting. I've always been the "just say no" and try to stick with it type, but I like your approach better. I definitely need to give this some thought. Thank you.

    Also, would you mind if I link your site on Refuse to Regain under our maintainers blog list? Thanks for your consideration.

  2. Hi, Lynn. Thanks for posting! I found replacing habits rather than stopping them to be essential especially if the habit I was trying to stop was tied to the time of day - like a pre-dinner cocktail. I'm replacing that habit with a cup of tea. Lots of calories saved AND my brain isn't fuzzy when I have dinner so I don't over-eat.

    I'd be honored to have my blog listed on the Refuse to Regain site. Thank you for asking.

  3. Hi Maura,

    I got to your blog through Refuse to Regain. I'm so glad that I took the time to do some reading. Replacing habits is a great idea. Like Lynn, I try to "just say no", but it hasn't been working for me during the after work/hang with kids/make dinner time period. Thanks for posting!!


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