April 8, 2015

If you have a look at the behaviours of people who are normally ‘in control’ when it comes to food, you’ll notice that they have routines in their behaviours and choices. These have developed over many years of following an eating plan that works well for them, but the aftermath of a holiday period like Easter can take its toll.

No, it’s not that they have huge blow-outs and eat their body weight in chocolate. Not even close. They can simply get out of routine.

For some people, the thought of routine is one of boredom and being stuck in a rut. They want constant variety and stimulation. This is fine if they’re thinking of work or socialising or adventures, but if they’re trying to control their weight it’s a recipe for disaster.

If you have any routine, it means that you’ve developed some habits that work. A habit is a behaviour that you barely need to think about doing – it just happens. Most of us have a routine when we get up in the morning: the routines vary from person to person, but they are mostly consistent for each individual.

It might be to deal with bathroom needs, go for a walk, and make breakfast. For someone else it might be to enjoy a coffee while still waking up. For someone else it might be shower first and then get on with other things. Whatever it is, the habit – or routine – means that less thought is needed. It doesn’t matter how tired or stressed or whatever you feel, the habit overrides the need for decision-making. In short, the habit makes life easier.

When it comes to food choices, routine is there for most of us. Think about your parents and you could probably predict what they had for breakfast for thirty or forty years. This might even be the case for you. In the early hours of the day, the last thing you want to make decisions about is what to eat for breakfast.

So how does a break like Easter affect routine?

The break gives you time to experiment and try different foods. You might eat at different times. For four days you don’t have to be so organised. And it feels great.

Then you go back to work, and you really don’t want to let go of the freedom you had for such a short period. It can be hard to re-establish the routine. Planning tomorrow night’s dinner is boring when you’d rather prepare a meal on a whim dictated by your taste buds – or go out for dinner. Packing snacks and lunch ready for work can be forgotten until the last minute when you’re running out the door and it’s too late.

It’s important to get your healthy routines back in place. Whatever decisions were made over Easter were (hopefully) enjoyed, and now it’s time to ‘get back on the wagon’. Routine is ultimately there to make our lives easier, and if your habits before Easter were serving you well, implement them again, sooner rather than later.