Our local organic grocery store has a pastry chef who has won all kinds of awards for her tasty treats. I am partial to her cookies. They’re big. They’re cakey. And they’re organic, made with all-natural ingredients. I give her awards every time I eat one!
One winter a few years ago, I got hooked on these cookies. They became my drug of choice on winter nights when I was fighting the winter blues. One problem, though. Within about a month of practicing my nightly cookie ritual, I gained about 5 pounds!
During one of my regular acupuncture appointments, my acupuncturist felt my pulses and expressed concern over what she was noticing. I broke down. I told her about my cookie fetish.
She remarked that the excess sugar was apparently doing some wonky stuff to my spleen, as well as a few other unhealthy things.
[Note: I’ve since learned that eating carbs late at night drives up your insulin. Insulin blocks the all-important fat-burning "human growth hormone" – which is naturally released in large quantities about one hour after you fall asleep. When you eat carbs at night, the insulin boost interferes with your natural metabolism process, causing you to gain weight and messing with healthy sleep patterns. For more about this, read Jillian Michaels' most excellent book: Master Your Metabolism.]
My acupuncturist smiled at my tale of my sugar addiction, and she told me quite simply:
“It’s just ritual. That’s what we all crave, really. Create a new ritual!”
And on the spot, she prescribed a new ritual that I absolutely love. (It doesn’t mean I no longer eat cookies. It’s just that I’m not addicted anymore!)
The Apple and Cinnamon and Tea Ritual
Brew some boiling water for your favorite herbal tea. (I love Good Earth Decaf Tea in the winter.)
Then slice an apple into thin even slices and lay them out on your favorite dish or appetizer tray. (Presentation is important. It makes the ritual a special occasion. Cookies, on the other hand, are easy to chomp down with little awareness.)
Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon.
Sit down and mindfully enjoy your tea and cinnamon-sprinkled apples. (Light a candle for added shininess.)
If you’re anything like me, upon reading this your first reaction will be something like:
(Actually, my reaction was more like: “You think this is going to make me not want my big cakey chocolate chip cookie? Exactly what land of new age Zen fantasy are you from?”)
But I tried it anyway.
And while it didn’t provide the same addictive bliss of the cookie habit, it replaced it with a more peaceful moment of ritual. I stayed present with the apple and enjoyed each bite. Slowly, it became my new ritual, and I left behind my cookie fetish. (And lost the extra pounds in the process!)
Sometimes we make it much more complicated than it has to be.
It really is just about creating new rituals and habits.
P.S. Want more rituals that will help you thrive this winter? Then be sure to get my LiveCreative eZine this Wednesday! The feature article is “7 Happy Rituals for the Short Days of Winter.” Click here to subscribe!