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Change Creates Change

At lunch with a friend who’s always immersed in fascinating and challenging activities, we got to talking about trying new endeavors and doing things we already know how to do differently. In the spirit of our discussion, I switched my turkey wrap from my right hand to my left and continued munching. An enlightening experience, to be sure.

We know from scientific studies that the more learning folks engage in as they age, the more functional they remain. Every time an unfamiliar task challenges us, the brain has to create new neural pathways which keep it growing and changing. It doesn’t matter if you shine in what you’re learning to do or acquire a skill that’s of little use to the rest of the world but of much use or fun to you. The point is that your brain benefits when it goes from here—no skill—to there—skilled.

Moreover, doing new activities or old ones differently gets you out of rigid patterns. Let’s face it: we’re all stuck in some routines, especially with eating. One of the lies we tell ourselves is that we can’t do things any other way and that kind of thinking spells
r-u-t. But the rut isn’t actually physical; it’s mental. If you fear change and always avoid it, it’s going to be a struggle to up and decide you’re no longer going to diet/eat three desserts/starve yourself all day to binge all night/purge after eating/weigh yourself daily/get up in the middle of the night to have a snack when you’re not hungry, etc.

In order to alter eating thoughts and behaviors, you have to be a change agent and loosen up in as many aspects of your life as you can. Each week, try something new: a TV show a friend suggests, an alternate route to work, a type of book you didn’t think you’d enjoy, browsing a store that’s so “not you,” or visiting a museum you’ve never been to. So many disregulated eaters complain about lacking excitement or passion in their lives so that eating becomes the highpoint of their day. How très sad! When you live a full, interesting, passionate life, food as fun will start to drift to the back burner.

Meanwhile, back at lunch and me eating my turkey wrap with my left hand: Boy, was that a powerful experience. Not only did it slow me down, but I had to constantly look at my food which kept me totally present to it. Eating the wrap was easy though compared to tucking into my side of broccoli left-handed. If you try nothing else new, I heartily recommend using your non-dominant hand next time you eat for a totally new experience. Who knows, it may be the change that brings on more change. Stasis promotes stasis. Change brings change. Try it. I promise it won’t bite.