On Routines

Routine is the enemy. ~Coach Glassman, from “World Class Fitness in 100 Words.”

With food, sometimes a routine is really useful. You know what fuel your body uses well; you also know what fuel (or, let’s be honest, non-fuel) your body cannot use well. Routine makes shopping and planning easier and more efficient. Routine requires less thought, less awareness.

But. Once in a while, your routine might bog you down. Or the mindlessness of it might thwart you.

For instance, my go-to snack as of late has been roasted almonds and dates, eaten together, sometimes punctuated by sunflower or pumpkin seeds. It’s a little bit salty and sweet, a little crunchy and a little chewy. I try to limit myself to one “serving” of this snack per day — generally about 12 almonds and 5-6 dates (they’re small).

However, last week when I was in the grocery store, I accidentally picked up the whole dates (not the pitted kind). And when I got home I noticed that grabbed the wrong container, but I didn’t fret. No big deal, right?

But boy, was I wrong. Eating a pitted date is MUCH EASIER than eating one that isn’t. To eat a whole date, you must have a plan. You must pit several with a knife ahead of time before you sit down with your snack. Or, you must bite into each date halfway through to remove the pit. And since my snacks are normally accompanied by another task, like writing or reading or folding mounds of laundry, this additional step in my snack makes things especially onerous. Well, onerous in that I can’t snack mindlessly. I must either prep the snack, or I must carry a wet wipe with me as I negotiate the removal of each pit (so sticky)!

Yes. The whole dates make it HARD TO SNACK; they are a diversion from my routine.

This diversion keeps me from 1) eating mindlessly and 2) eating more than I think I am. Because truth be told, my “serving” of 12 almonds and 5 dates is probably twice that. I only hope I’m only eating that many. But really, I don’t count. Eating the whole dates forces my awareness into thinking about just how many I’m eating. The whole dates provide a pain-in-the-ass factor that makes me re-think the effort/reward trade-off for this particular snack.


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