Perhaps you don’t drink coffee, or if you do, you would never put creamer in it anyway, so you may be thinking “Well this doesn’t apply to me at all!” But read on, because creamer-using coffee drinker or not, there is a lesson here for all.
Changing your diet and improving lifestyle habits can be a real challenge. Any form of change will always come with its fair share of difficulties and "I can'ts." Oftentimes we enter into these changes with the right amount of gumption and our best “can-do” attitudes in tow, but undoubtedly, we reach a point on that journey where the gumption runs out and the “can-do” becomes a “meh, probably not” and we begin to slip back into old habits, leaving behind the progress we’ve made and tossing the desire to carry on into a bottomless pit of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I totally get it. I’ve been there many times. And with hard-ingrained food habits, this pattern becomes even more prevalent and hard to break. So how do we achieve lasting change? What makes a new habit truly stick?
To highlight what this can look like, let me tell you about my journey with coffee creamer. My enjoyment of coffee has always been closely tied to the perfect ratio of slightly sweet and creamy. For a long time, that was found in a popular store bought brand of coffee creamer we’ll call “Java Friend.” It provided that beautifully luxurious swirl in the cup (compliments of the likes of various forms of cellulose, gums, vegetable oils, and other emulsifying mystery junk), and magically incorporated to create the perfect creamy dreamy cup of joe. As I educated myself more on true nutrition and quality products, my creamer of choice transitioned to another mass-produced “naturally blissful” shelf brand with fewer ingredients and names I could pronounce (i.e. NOT mono- and diglycerides or dipotassium phosphate). Although still full of cane sugar and processed dairy, it was a step.
More time and education led to some homemade versions of my own, like almond milk naturally sweetened with dates or maple syrup. I would travel with a small jar of this in my purse if I knew I was going to a coffee shop. It took a little bit of adjustment, as it wasn’t quite the same creamy incorporation, but the taste was on point and I knew it was a quality product with ingredients I was familiar with. For a season I had to transition away from nuts, so my java accompaniment became organic full fat coconut milk and a touch of honey. Honey in coffee took some adjusting, I’ll be honest. At first I could taste the difference and just wasn’t totally sold. But in time, as my taste buds adjusted (and my attitude, to be honest), it became my new favorite pairing, and that is what has stuck to this day.
So how does this apply to you? Maybe for you it’s a nightly ice cream binge, or a grande latte every morning, or a candy bar for an afternoon snack. Whatever it may be, pinpoint one small thing that you can focus on to change. Implement an action step. Perhaps make it ice cream every other night to start, or that latte only on the weekends, or switch to a healthier alternative to the afternoon candy bar. Start with something you can accomplish, master it, and then transition to the next step.
The course of my coffee creamer transition was over a couple of years. It wasn’t all at once or overnight. The biggest tools for implementing true, lasting change are time and patience. Give yourself grace to make mistakes, but don’t treat it as a “falling off the bandwagon” moment. That mindset makes it easy to continue on that negative path and harder to stick with your goals. It becomes a “well, I already messed this up. Might as well keep going.” “I already ate those three Oreos, which were not conducive to my dietary goals, so pizza it is for dinner!” The bandwagon mentality creates a mindset of failure and makes it easy to spiral into a cascade of shame and disappointment—two hardcore emotions that also contribute to unhealthy emotional eating habits. And the negative cycle perpetuates itself. Mistakes will happen, and that is perfectly ok. Pick up where you left off, learn from those mistakes, and keep moving forward.
Do you have a coffee creamer-esque transition experience? Please share in the comments below! Are you looking to make some changes but just aren’t sure where to begin, or want some support for the process? Feel free to get in touch with me here to see if we could work together on your health journey!
In loving health,