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Junk-Food Habits

I won’t try to kid you – the road to healthy living isn’t an easy one, but it will be worthwhile if you can stick to it. The place I started looking for a solution was in my daily routine. I didn’t eat while working, only during breaks and then just to recharge the batteries. The problem time was evenings and weekends when I was trying to relax. Junk-food seemed to help. The habit progressed from a few snacks while watching prime-time TV, to getting through a large bag over a four-hour period. It even extended to a wine and some nibblies immediately after arriving home from work. Weekends became a junk-food marathon. Before long, actual meals were less-satisfying than the tasty garbage and were sometimes skipped altogether. The only ones that could hold their own in this fatty, health-destroying environment were loaded with all those yummy additives that were now a necessity.

It appeared that spare time was my worst enemy. If I could figure out why I needed certain foods at specific times, I might be able to substitute healthy alternatives and eventually cut out some grazing sessions altogether. Almost as bad was the association trap. Cheese and wine, beer and pretzels, peaches and cream. Why did they go so well together? And which activities or entertainment never seemed to be the same without them? An answer might lead to a way of severing the partnership.

The after-work nibblies should have been the easiest to fix. The reason for wanting them seemed obvious – hunger. I was ready for a meal, but had to shower before preparing and cooking it. I also needed a few minutes to sit and unwind first. There was where the chain began – a glass of red to help with the relaxation, a few snacks to accompany the wine and keep the hunger at bay, plus a bit of informative entertainment courtesy of an early news broadcast. Any two went well together and were enhanced by the third. However, one on its own just didn’t quite hit the spot any more.

The Wonder Cure

Put in simpler terms, it was a vicious circle that looked impossible to break. Surprisingly, it wasn’t, because it all revolved around two motivating factors – I was tired and hungry. So, I switched on the news, sat and poured just half a glass of wine, but left the snacks in the cupboard, telling myself that I wouldn’t get any food until the evening meal. Needless to say, the wine didn’t last long, the news failed to hold my attention, I was in and out of the shower pretty quick smart, and tea was served earlier than usual. And it seemed tastier somehow.

Extending the small success into the rest of the evening was much harder, but recognising the links helped. By keeping a flask of water handy and pouring the odd glass, not only cut down on the alcohol consumption, but, because I declined to eat anything while drinking it, I had introduced an inert, non-habit-forming element which had no pre-existing associations.

The really important discovery didn’t dawn immediately, and had someone told me about it I’d have said they were dreaming. It’s all in the power of good old H2O. Not only does water keep us alive, it also cleanses, both the body and the palate. The more I drank of the stuff, the better my sense of taste became. I was able to detect underlying flavours in the junk-food, many quite unpleasant. Burgers, once juicy and mouth-watering seemed greasy and had more-than-a-hint of very old mutton. I could tell if the French fries were cut from potatoes past their use-by date and cooked in oil that was overdue for changing. Even my favourite snack biscuits and chips didn’t seem a patch on those I had always enjoyed.

In fact, I was forced to the conclusion that the food I cooked myself was streets ahead of the junk stuff. It tasted better and, because I made it myself, I knew what went into it. The healthy alternative was actually there all the time. It had merely lost flavour for a while.

Next issue: That Certain Feeling – our inner-self is talking to us

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