Resolutions are often created around the premise that weâ€™re going to add a new behavior. Certainly itâ€™s good to focus on what we want to create (as opposed to that which we donâ€™t want to). But, if youâ€™re already struggling with your best dietary intentions this New Year and youâ€™re thinking about beating yourself up, letâ€™s encourage each other to reframe it. Letâ€™s call it feedback, not failure.
We know that our dietary choices are often a symptom of a deeper issue. With some curiosity that comes from a more mindful eating approach, we may get some new momentum.
Letâ€™s assume your New Year resolution involved spending more time in the kitchen. Most realize that preparing more of our own food with less reliance on dine-out and processed foods creates a bedrock of nutrition for our self and our family. But, creating new habits to meal-plan, shop and cook takes mental space.
We only have so much mental space in a day. We need to get clear on what weâ€™re spending these precious resources on. Michael Pollan, in his new book â€œCooked,â€ reminds us that weâ€™re spending on average about 27 minutes a day in the kitchen preparing food. Contrast that with how much time we spend on our smart phones or other media. Interestingly, he suggests the increase in watching cooking shows like those on The Food Network over the past decade is linked with our desire for a deeper connection to our own kitchen. Itâ€™s a bit of kitchen porn â€“ satisfying our desire to be connected to cooking while weâ€™re sitting in our living room distracting ourselves from how frazzled, unhappy or bored we are.
Having said all of this, I donâ€™t know what the answer is for you. What are the unneeded distractions that are eating up the space in your life, the space needed to create a healthier habit?
For me personally, I have decided I donâ€™t need my smartphone pinging me every other minute about another e-mail delivery. Iâ€™ve gone back to checking it on my laptop once or twice a day and have told my friends, family and colleagues to text me if an immediate response is required.
I finally came to this decision when a recent phone crash occurred and, as a result, I immediately felt calmer and more focused. I then read an interesting article about a recent study: Participantsâ€™ productivity was decreased by 20 percent simply from having their phone nearby, often pinging them with e-mail. It didnâ€™t matter if the participants checked their e-mail or not. Simply the mental space that it took to decide if they were going to check their phone or not decreased their productivity and concentration toward their task.
Again, you can only know what is taking up the mental space you need to create lasting change. Keep in mind that you may not even be clear what the next steps are in building your healthier life until you remove some distractions. Think subtract before you add. Ask yourself what mental resources you can free up to create the space for change this year.
Kathryn Reed, who wrote this article, is a certified nutritionist and co-founder of Sound Health Connects in Seattle.