Whole30 Challenge: Day 19

Going forward, I’m going to actively work on reducing my snacks. I just finished an awesome book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The premise of the book is that a lot of our behavior is simply governed by habits, which can be changed. He posits that there are 3 parts to a habit: a cue, routine, and reward that is fueled by addiction. If you can identify the cue that’s triggering your habit, you can swap out unhealthy routines for better ones. Eventually, you will form a new habit with the new routine in place.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Habit cycle – cue, routine, and reward fueled by addiction

In light of my snacking escapades on Whole30, I was wondering if I could apply Duhigg’s theory to my diet. Is my snacking a habit, and if so, what triggers it? In the appendix of the book, Duhigg proposes a framework to identifying cues – any time you engage in a suspected behavior (in my case snacking), you ask yourself 5 things:

  1. Where are you?
  2. What time is it?
  3. What is your emotional state?
  4. Who else is around?
  5. What were you doing before this?

Over time, you’ll be able to identify patterns such as, you mainly snack (routine) when you’re bored (cue). Knowing boredom is the cue will allow you to try out different routines that combat boredom, such as taking a walk around the block.

I suspect my snacking is from a combination of boredom and coping mechanism, but it would be really interesting to really drill down on the behavior. In addition to the 5 questions above, I plan to ask myself, “Are you hungry?” before snacking as well. For example, this morning, I wanted to snack when I got into the office. I noted that I was at my desk and some anxiety-causing coworkers were around (I’m usually a lot happier when they’re not around). Before that, I was driving. I was not hungry. Maybe I wanted to snack in response to anxiety? :/

A couple hours later, I did end up snacking on some prepacked veggies. The difference was I was hungry. Or so I tell myself. I created a Google Spreadsheet to keep track of every time I want to snack and whether I ultimately did or not. I’m a huge fan of random analyses, so I’ll let you know if I find any patterns.

For lunch, I had my usual salad.

Work salad

In the afternoon, I really wanted to snack. I considered eating some of the nuts I had at my desk, but decided to apply my new habit identifying framework. I ultimately asked myself – “Am I hungry?” and yes, I was. But then I asked myself, “Can you wait 30 minutes until you get home for dinner?” I decided the answer was yes, and ate one of my prepackaged salads for dinner.

Moar salad

That night, I started getting dry eye issues again. It was so bad that I couldn’t sleep. Reluctantly, I ate some sweet potatoes to clear up the issue. I paired it with some of the braised lamb with apricots I had in the freezer to make sure the sugar didn’t hit my bloodstream all at once. After about 30 minutes, the dry eyes cleared up enough for me to go to sleep.

Diet Log Summary

  • Snack: cut vegetables
  • Lunch: salad – romaine lettuce, spring mix, baby kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, 2T guac
  • Dinner: salad – spring mix, green goddess dressing
  • Late night snack: 2c sweet potatoes, braised lamb with apricots

Diet Effects Summary

  • I really wasn’t as hungry today as I would’ve thought. I wonder if it’s because I ate the pork belly yesterday, which has a lot of fat. The weird thing I’ve noticed about Whole30 is my diet seems to be self-regulated in a sense: if I eat a lot one day, I’ll be less hungry than usual the next. Conversely, if I eat a little one day, the next day I’ll be hungrier than usual. Going forward, I want to pay more attention to my hunger signals to determine what/when to eat. I still find myself eating for emotional reasons (boredom, stress) – it’s just the food is healthier now. My goal by the end of this 30 days is to only eat when I’m hungry. Sounds easy, but it’s probably one of the hardest goals I’ve ever set for myself!
  • I’m having issues with dry eyes again! I think I need to plan my meals better so I don’t have a couple of low carb days followed by a high carb day to cancel out the dry eyes… the weird thing is, when I did keto for a month, I didn’t have this issue. I was, however, drinking salted water to stay hydrated (and peeing every hour). I honestly don’t know what to make of it. It feels weird forcing myself to eat more carbs, but then again, 1 cup of sweet potatoes only has 27g.
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