Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fertility and Eating: It’s a Habit

For many years I could not sit at my computer or work or study without a cup of coffee. I needed a cup first thing in the morning too. I just couldn’t think unless I had that coffee. I’d mope, get distracted and finally give in and grab a cup. I had to have it. Otherwise, how else was I going to get my work done? And getting my work done was more important than whatever the coffee may or may not have been doing to my body.

Whenever I traveled to foreign countries, however, especially to places where coffee was not accessible (the jungles of Belize, for example), I did not have my daily doses of coffee, and I didn’t miss them, either. Didn’t even think about them.

I could let my coffee habit go because, while traveling, I was completely out of my usual routine, out of my habits. The sensory indicators (my office, computer, house and so on) were not there. Soon as I came home, though, I’d be right back where I left off.

We need our routine and our habits (good ones) because they help simplify our lives, streamline them. To break a habit that’s not working for us, we need to shake up our routines, change something, or teach ourselves to respond differently to something, and practice that change long enough so that it then becomes a habit.

With coffee, I had to prove to myself that I actually could think and work without it. I had to create a new or different habit to help me. I substituted herbal tea and every time I thought I had to have coffee or else I couldn’t finish my work, I reminded myself that it just wasn’t true, and I’ll prove it!

You’ve heard the saying: it takes 21 days (3 weeks) for something to become a habit. I’d say that depends on what it is and how attached you are to that habit—for some habits, it could take a little longer. But this is the reason it’s so important not to cheat the first three weeks on a fertility diet, once you’ve eased into it and started in earnest. It’ll take that long for some of your old cravings to subside (esp. for sugar and processed foods), and it will take at least that long for you to make a habit out of eating healthy.

So if you eliminate dairy, keep it out for at least three weeks, until you no longer miss the cheese so much. After that, your willpower will be much stronger.

Another aid to willpower is your desire, or motivation. I found that nothing helps me stick to a pure, wholesome, healthy diet more than the desire to create a baby. Every time I thought to have a cup of decaf coffee or tortilla chips, I would ask myself if that would be good for the baby or not. Did I want to take a chance that it wasn’t? I’d almost always skip the cheat.

After many months on a fertility diet, eating that way became a habit for life, long after we brought home our beautiful baby. I just eat that way now. I only “cheat” when I go out to eat (because it’s usually not organic), or with a couple of my biggest weaknesses, namely decaf coffee and the occasional glass of wine. If healthy eating can become your new habit, keeping you strong, healthy and feeling good for life, this alone is a wonderful gift.

For more fertility diet tips, click here.
Here’s a link on breaking bad habits.