I’m an addict. Not in the illicit sense – I don’t do drugs, smoke or drink (well, at least not while I’m pregnant), but I do have a few addictions.
In my late 20s, I developed an addiction to chewing gum. It was literally a pack-a-day habit. I’d buy a box of 20-piece sugarless gum packs from Costco and go through them about every 2-3 weeks. People at work always knew who to come to after lunch or when their breath needed refreshing. I was even a chain-chewer, popping a new piece in as soon as the old one lost its flavor. I developed a clicking jaw, but still my addiction persisted.
Mysteriously, gum lost all of its allure once I got pregnant with my first child, and I haven’t gone back since.
I do have a new addiction – more like a resurrection of an old, previously dealt with addiction. My new addiction is breakfast cereal. I love it. I can eat it all day long – the traditional way with milk and berries, as a snack by itself, mixed into yogurt, or in a ramekin with a little milk as a mini-breakfast/dessert. It satisfies my cravings for sweet, crunchy (better than potato chips) and even creamy/cold when I add milk.
You probably think – how can a cereal addiction be so bad? Cereal is loaded with vitamins, minerals, is relatively low in calories – and the brands I choose are high in fiber and/or whole grains. I also often mix it with nutrient-rich fat-free milk and fresh berries.
The truth is, people should not consume any food in excess – including cereal. By reaching for the same old thing time and time again, I’m passing up the opportunity to incorporate something different into my body – with its own unique mix of nutrients. Not to mention the possible added calories by overeating as I succumb to a desire that comes from my head and not necessarily from my stomach.
Addiction aside, cereal is deceptively easy to overeat. Have you ever measured a serving? Often, it’s somewhere between a 1/2 cup to 1 cup, and about 30 grams. Weigh out a serving one time, and you might be shocked at how little it fills up your bowl.
When I first noticed my addiction to cereal (several years ago, when I was unemployed and found myself reaching for things in the pantry between job searching online), I realized I needed to do something about it – and fast, since I could easily polish off a 1/2 box of Kashi Go-Lean in a day (and had the stomach issues at night as a result). My solution was that as soon as I bought a box of cereal, I’d pre-portion single servings in baggies, weighing them out meticulously with a kitchen scale and placing them back into the box in snack or sandwich bags. Each morning, I’d grab my baggie, add some milk and fruit, and breakfast was served.
I soon grew tired of the weighing and instead weigh my cereal once each morning. But lately I’ve been creeping back for seconds, thirds, and – gasp – fourths of cereal in little ramekins, on yogurt, etc., throughout the day.
So what’s the solution? Go back to basics. Control portions by measuring them out, or allowing yourself one serving of your favorite food per day, or whatever it takes to get you back on track.Maybe it means ridding your kitchen of whatever your food trigger is for a while until you get your addiction under control.
What is YOUR addiction, and what have you done to overcome it?