Monthly Challenge: March

Oh March.  Your approach means that spring is on its way, though in New England, I’m told, this elusive season goes by the nickname “sprinter” and that your approach really means that daytime highs consistently rise above freezing.  Just now I saw some suspicious white fluffs drift past my window, but rather than contemplate what that holds for my noontime trek over to a friend’s place to cook some Chinese food, I will instead avoid looking out the window for the next half hour and instead focus on the computer screen in front of me.  Denial is such a warm, happy place.

February is the toughest month of the year, which means that things look up in March, sprinter or not.  Knowing February would be difficult I took every preventive measure I could think of: daily doses of inspiration, meals out with friends, a couple new crafting projects and a regularly cleaned apartment.  And still one more tactic slipped in through the back door when I wasn’t paying attention, one that has since taken over the kitchen and needs to be wrestled back out the door once more.  Junk food.

Normally I’m pretty good about junk food.  Sure, it sneaks into my diet on a regular basis, but in a reasonable way.  Since the semester started, though, I’ve been consuming alarming amounts of sugar, butter and chocolate, sometimes in various forms of junk food, sometimes, I admit, in unadultered form, like shoveling large handfuls of Ghirardelli 60% cacao dark chocolate baking chips into my mouth.  Sugar, butter and chocolate are one of those fast and easy ways to stay awake in class (and I have two of them, back to back, on Wednesday afternoons), to alleviate a bit of stress, and are that perfect distraction from the paper that should be written.  It may not be the best for you, but when you’re in a rush convenience usually trumps all else.

A large mug of hot chocolate to go with breakfast is pushing it, but reasonable.  A plateful of chocolate chip cookies – albeit homemade ones, with pumpkin puree substituted in for half the butter, and a combination of wheat flour, rolled oats and white flour instead of the usual white – right after a mind-numbingly large dinner, is not.  You know things are bad when you pour M&M mini baking bits into a bowl of vanilla yogurt and call it breakfast, just because you needed that fix of colorful candied shells crunching between your teeth.  With certain foods, it isn’t so much the taste as it is the unique sensation of how it squishes between my teeth that I find so addictive.  Edamame.  M&M’s (the peanut ones squish differently than the regular).

When I start needing the junk, it’s time to cut back.

So here’s the plan.  Rather than cutting junk food out entirely, I am going to cut down in careful, measured ways.  In fact, I am going to be more mindful of food in general this month.  I’ve been here six months already, but I have yet to establish a good food routine for myself.  Good weeks are followed by off weeks, where I grab my can of kimchee and mix it into scrambled eggs and call it dinner, until the kimchee runs out and I have to think up a new Miracle Meal.

Every day I will have an idea of what I am eating and when.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus any snacks along the way.  If it’s in the plan it’s OK, junk food and all.  If I decide to have a banana and a chocolate chip pumpkin cookie during my afternoon Biostats class (you know, the one that immediately follows my other boring afternoon class), there’s nothing wrong with that.  But if I haven’t planned ahead properly, there is no spontaneous vending machine run for the king size bag of peanut M&M’s, because, of course, in a school of public health they would only stock the king size bag.  There are other ways to stay awake in class, like stretching, jogging up and down the stairs during the break, or even writing out every last Chinese poem I can remember in the back of my notebook, something I’ve discovered can really stave off close encounters with the pesky ZZZ’s.  It’s time to let go of this crutch we call junk food.  It’s time for regular, nutritious meals.

Some days I may post up my eating plan for the day, others I’ll share tidbits of fooding knowledge I’ve picked up along the way from over a decade of healthy eating attempts, plus years of health education and health coaching experience.  It’s one thing to learn the rules of the eating game.  It’s another to figure out how those rules fit into the daily commute, a controlling boss at work, children who refuse to eat anything green, and those 3 half-eaten cartons of ice cream staring back from the freezer door.  But we’ll tackle all of that together.  March is rays of hope peering in through short, gloomy days.  And eating?  My kitchen used to be one of those places of warmth and contentment to return to at the end of a long day.  Here’s to bringing it back to that status once more.

March: A Month of Mindful Eating.

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One Response to “Monthly Challenge: March”

  1. Liz C Says:

    Perfect! I’m ready, and it’ll be nice to read your progress.

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