Dinner Diva: Erasmus said, Habit is overcome by habit

Dinner Diva
Erasmus said, "Habit is overcome by habit"

With the billions of dollars that are spent each year by people hoping to lose weight once and for all, it is the people who understand the principle of exchange and choice that ultimately win the war on body clutter (excess weight). These are the people who become the success stories we love reading about and secretly hope that one day, that will be our story, too. This very simple principle of exchanging one habit (eating ice cream after dinner every night) for another (taking the dog for a walk) has the ability to tweak your lifestyle enough to dramatically alter your weight--and much less painfully than you would think.
I call mindless eating unconscientious grazing. The hand to mouth exchange that is done with an almost numbing rhythm, one chip at a time, one M & M at a time will pile it on without the participant's awareness! It almost doesn't matter what we're eating because it's forgotten about after about the 5th or 6th munch anyway. This style of eating is reminiscent of the way a cow spends her day--grazing. In other words, eating all day with the jaw constantly moving. The only difference being of course, that we have one stomach and choose not to throw up and re-chew our food (one would hope so anyway).
If we are going to lose the unconscientious grazing habit and replace it with the healthy new habit of conscientious eating, we need to bring back the old fashioned value of mealtimes. Good eating habits are established one meal at a time. A great starting place is the family dinner table. All too often our dinner time eating habits become yet another place where the food is fast, "served" in the back of a car and amidst a frenzy of activity. Our "dinner conversation" becomes, "do you want fries with that?" instead of asking about everyone's day.
One of my passions is making sure people understand that their dinner table is not just a place of good family dinners, but also a place of communion for a family that desperately needs to reconnect at the end of a busy day. Too often the dinner table becomes a clutter magnet--a place to dump the mail, the kids' backpacks and homework after zipping through the drive-thru. This is a place where not only conscientious eating can take place, but the good habit of relationship building and the tying together of heartstrings that may have been inadvertently cut by a rushed parent. Study after study has shown that children that eat together with their parents regularly have less problems (drugs, sex, poor performance in school) than their non-eating-dinner-together-with-their-families, peers.
We all know that eating in front of the TV is an almost guaranteed reservation at The Overeating Cafe. It also assures that there will be no conversation (except maybe a request for salt being passed or a fleeting comment made during a commercial). It is an interesting phenomenon how once that habit of the dinner table is re-established; the food becomes healthier and more nutritious and psychologically, the whole family does better.
Good habits like establishing regular mealtimes, also have the advantage of an almost built in control mechanism. Instead of mindless grazing for hours in front of the TV, there is a beginning and ending point to the meal. The mindless feeding is turned off because the meal is over. Such a simple concept, and yet so very powerful once implemented. Make it a point to get to your dinner table at least twice this week and see what happens.

For more dinner solutions, visit savingdinner.com Copyright 2006 Leanne Ely. Published with permission for this publication.