Creature of Habit

Now that I’m the community manager for the American Heart Association’s digital engagement strategy, I seem to notice the AHA’s heart check mark everywhere I look — including at the deli.

On my lunch break today, I went to my favorite grocery store in town to pick up my favorite turkey — Boar’s Head Honey Maple Turkey — which meets the AHA’s guidelines and bears the heart check mark.

I buy this about twice  a week, in small increments so it stays fresh, and it’s been one of my go-to lunch staples for about the past 5-6 months.

Anyway, the guy behind the counter recognizes me by now. And though I don’t know his name  and he doesn’t know mine,  he knows what I always order.

Today, another woman was working in the deli, and while I was wondering where my usual guy was,  he popped up behind me.

“Did you ever wake up one day and say, I think I’m going to try something new here today? I wonder what X tastes like?” he said with a smile.

I just laughed and said, “What can I say, I’m a creature of habit!”

Am I ever!

It’s true. I AM a creature of habit.

(Case in point: loooooong before my food issues began, a college boyfriend dumped me because I only ate chicken; he thought that was indicative of the rest of my personality … )

Sometimes I wonder what is my nature (i.e., liking to eat the same things over and over) and what is the disordered voices speaking (*only* ordering XYZ).

Even though I don’t think I exhibit a lot of those behaviors anymore and feel I’ve branched out a lot, I’m still very aware, maybe even hyper-aware … so when someone else calls attention to them, I flinch for a second and check myself. (I think this is actually progress).

You see, I love turkey, and always have. But when I joined WW in 2004, I would eat turkey, spinach and light Swiss on Arnold’s Bakery Light whole wheat bread; baby carrots; Glenny’s BBQ soy crisps (or pretzels) and an apple nearly EVERY SINGLE DAY for about three years … no joke.

Why? Well, aside from loving it, I also knew it was a 7-point lunch (depending on the ingredients, of course) and so it became my “safe” go-to lunch.

But after years and years of eating the same thing at lunch, I more or less overdid it on turkey … and it’s only the past few months that I’ve gone back to it (though in the roll-up format, so it’s a smidge different).

So naturally then, the deli guy’s comment got me thinking … even he noticed it, a person I spend maybe 2 minutes a day with twice a week!

It’s true that I really don’t branch out too much when it comes to food choices. In Korea earlier this month, I absolutely needed to — or I’d have starved! But for the most part, while I am more experimental when dining out (a little freer, a little more willing to try new things), I’m still very much a creature of habit for the most part.

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to be a creature of habit, but it’s moments like this that remind me of how much perception really is reality.

I might think I’m making strides, but to an outsider (who doesn’t know my history, I might add) … it might not be quite so obvious. I’d like to project that willingness/openness to the outside world; it just might take time.

How about you? Are you a creature of habit when it comes to food choices, and has your recovery journey impacted your ability to make different choices?

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9 thoughts on “Creature of Habit

  1. I am a creature of habit when it comes to food. Food choices are not easy for me but it is something I am working on. Small steps. If I go out to eat, I try something new. Recovery is making it easy for me to this. I like to eat alone. My compromise is to eat lunch with someone twice a week. These things aren’t much to some but to me, it is progress. Good post! It made me think.

  2. Is it a bit awkward when someone makes a comment like that? Yes. Is it any of his/her business? No. Does it mean its disordered that you eat the same thing quite regularly? I don’t think so.

    I eat oatmeal every.single.morning. I eat an apple, english muffin and PB for lunch almost every.single.day. I don’t really see this as a bad thing. I just know that I LOVE to have those meals and they are staples in my diet.

    I think the deli guy has a crush on you. 🙂

    1. LOL, Staci — really? 😉

      I think it’s only a bad thing if we were to freak because our routine got shuffled around or there was a surprise event or something; that’s when I see the disorderedness creep in and try to nip it before I dwell on it too long.

      LOL … perhaps, but I doubt it!

  3. I tend to eat the same breakfasts and rotations of lunches. I branch out with dinner but I know what I like.

    With my IBS I’ve had to be more adventurous lately since my normal staples cause more problems than they are worth.

  4. I am SO a creature of habit during the week days with my food. Banana before the gym, Oatmeal with apple after, egg/cheese/eng muffing sandwich for lunch and a grapefruit for a snack. I agree with you Melissa that i probably eat this way because it’s “safe” – i know exactly how many calories i eat each week day and do not have to think about it too much. Although i do love each and all those foods and i do switch up my dinners. I do still consider myself disordered though because if something threatens this routine – our work paying for a lunch, someone brings in a sweet treat to share with the office – i get a bit anxious because it’s not in my normal routine. I am working on it though:)

  5. I tend to be a creature of habit eating-wise during the week, especially. I usually have the same breakfast and/or lunch almost everyday in the week, mostly because it’s easier when I grocery shop than buying a bunch of things for variety. Ha! But, this brings up a good point – creature of habit or just being so in a routine that it’s hard to break out of it. I get that way, a LOT, especially with my workouts. I don’t like to break routine, especially when traveling for work or something. It drives me bonkers! I’m trying to “allow” myself to leave my routine now and then because it’s healthy and smart, but it’s not easy, I’ll tell you that much!

  6. i am most definitely a creature of habit!
    i have eaten the exact same breakfast for years now…. i rotate through about three lunches,.. i rotate through 3-4 protein bars….my snacks are a bunch of go-to’s, i just choose which i’m in the mood for… my dinners vary the most, but they are just on a bigger rotation (don’t forget i’m cooking for two kids, one of which is very picky). eating out dinners are very similar too.
    it makes me feel safe in my recovery. is that a bad thing?

  7. I totally overdid it on the turkey too. I ate turkey every day for about 3 years because a turkey sandwich was on a meal plan than an RD gave me. I had that meal plan (well, it had additions to it overtime) for nearly 3 years, and I swore by the meal plan. I wasn’t comfortable eating anything off the meal plan. Now, I don’t even think I can fathom eating turkey ever again….

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