I’m breaking up with nachos.
Yep. You heard me. It’s time for a split. And not a split of the banana sort either. I’m talking real break-up. Adios. Sayonara. Don’t come back unless you’re invited ….or you’re bringing me lottery winnings.
Who is this future-ex, you’re wondering?
Nacho Figueras, Ralph Lauren model known for his swarthy good looks and pony riding prowess?
No. (I just mumbled “dammit!”, but pretend you didn’t hear me.)
I met the Nachos I’m referring to at Carlos O’Brien’s in Puerta Vallarta in 1982 and I’ve been madly in love ever since. Addicted even.
I remember the night I first laid eyes on Nachos. There I was in my gold Olivia Newton John “Let’s Get Physical” headband, my shoulder-padded mini-dress and my Candie’s shoes…clickety-clacking across the tiled floor directly toward the gorgeous but clearly VERY cheesy “hot dish.” I was the tender age of 14 and couldn’t even explain what was happening to my nubile body, all I knew is that the sight made my stomach grumble and feel lusty. I won’t divulge how many times I partook in fully experiencing the delicious bliss of Nachos on that trip, all I can tell you that it was at least twice a day. I was addicted and needed my fix.
I carried on the affair when I got back home to California, but the American version was never as good, authentic or exotic. Sometimes magical things happen on vacations, and relationships just cannot sustain the beauty of it.
Nonetheless…I tried. And tried and tried and tried to recreate the enchanted Mexican encounters… but could never again achieve the same delight.
As time went on, with no airplane or Jetson’s teleporting machine at my disposal, I settled for the poor substitutes that Sacramento could provide me. I trolled TGI Friday’s and Tequila Willies to see if I could pick up any there….and I did. Sometimes, late at night (or even just after school) in a weak moment— I would settle.
Fritos and Velveeta in the microwave.
Time went on, and I experimented A LOT with different Nachos. Spicy ones. Meaty ones. The fake kind that one might find at 7-11 with fluorescent orange liquid named “cheeZe.” Occasionally I would find something worthwhile, but over time even they’d all get stale.
It’s 30 (mumble mumble) years later now and still…
Me encanta Nachos!
Every so often (okay, daily) I continue to find myself craving my hot Nachos of yesteryear. I’ve upgraded to hand-made, artisnal, organic tortilla chips and fresh organic shredded cheese. But I’m still using the microwave, so even with great ingredients like that, the texture can be that of Nachos-Jerky.
Yet I eat them. Repeatedly. Small batches, big batches. Occasionally even one-chip batches, if I’m trying to be “disciplined.” Which never ever works because then I just have 15 rounds of 1 chip batches, and let’s face it. That’s a lot of up and down and microwave button pushing.
On a special occasion (which may or may not include “it’s lunchtime. I’m special. Therefore it’s a special occasion.”) I’ll head on over to Casa Vega, the local Mexican hot—spot known for their celebrity clientele, kick-ass margaritas and flattering lighting (you pretty much need a blind cane to navigate the tables and booths at first. ) They have my new favorite Nachos, served up with a side of mariachi. Good times..good times.
And all that Jonesing is fine. We SHOULD have those favorite things that we treat ourselves to occasionally, right? I’m ALL for that. But what if we feel terrible after we partake in said ”favorite thing”? What if the trip from your kitchen to your sofa has become the new “walk of shame” carving a trail into your carpet and self-loathing into your heart?
In my case, I’m not talking about feeling shame as in “woo woo woo, I’m a lame-ass for eating that. I’m going to get fat!” because I don’t do that to myself anymore.
As it turns out—Nachos are very unhealthy for me. I don’t do well with dairy or grains. And nachos are dairy AND grains. Double whammy. It’s love/hate dysfunction, just in food form. It’s like dating someone cute with body odor AND terrible manners.
The thing is, Nachos put me into a food coma. I end up feeling badly about my lack of self-control and the fact that I did something that isn’t good for my body. Now that I love my body—I don’t WANT to indulge in things that make it feel/run/look bad. That is not self-love or “giving myself a treat.” That is self-sabotage and giving myself stress.
Sometimes it takes the realization that just because something is familiar, and a habit…that does not make it good. It just makes it familiar. And a habit!
So what does a smart gal do when she feels addicted to something that’s ultimately unhealthy for her?
As of this week, I have officially broken up with Nachos.
I still love you Nachos, and I will remember you fondly– but it’s over. You just aren’t good for me anymore.
Sometimes we can love something or someone, but that is not enough to make it/ them right for us.
At that point of realization, it’s time to resign to the process of letting go.
There are several ways to get rid of a bad habit or a food craving that’s no longer serving you well. Here are some of them:
1. Know your “why?” WHY is it important for you to stop? Make a list of at least 5 reasons WHY you want to stop eating ___________ like a manic dot-eating Ms. Pacman.
2. Visualize yourself without the craving & imagine unburdening yourself from it. (Feel free to skip around during this part.) Can you feel the freedom? What would it feel like to just walk right by that old vice, nod hello and not want it?
3. Eliminate the excuse, “I just can’t help it, it’s like I’m on auto pilot.” from your repertoire, because unless you have medical reasons that make your compulsions legit—you are bullshitting yourself! You need to wake up and take back your power. No matter how intoxicated we’ve become by cravings or familiarity, it is our job to engage in the moment and realize all of the opportunities we have to make better choices. This is true whether we are battling something major like drug addiction, or gambling or something like incessant Facebook checking or Nacho-craving! Don’t think you have choices? Allow me to use my situation as example:
- I can choose NOT to put my feet on the ground, to walk to the kitchen, to make the nachos.
- I can choose NOT to take the steps into the kitchen, to make the nachos.
- I can choose NOT to go down the stairs, into the kitchen, to make the nachos.
- I can choose NOT to turn right, to go into the kitchen, to make the nachos.
- I can choose NOT to open the pantry door, to get the chips, to make the nachos.
- I can choose NOT to open the bag, to get the chips, to pour in the Pyrex dish, to make the nachos….
And so on and so forth. There are SO MANY opportunities to choose to do something else instead. Our unhealthy habits do not happen to us.
We make them happen. And we can make them NOT happen.
We make choices. And we can stop in our tracks and choose to make better ones. Turn right instead of left. Stay put instead of getting up. Whatever it requires. We have that power, we just need to remember to use it!
4. If you find that you struggle to “snap out of it” (the “trance” of auto-pilot) in the first place—set up visual reminders. A photo of how you want your body to look…a post-it note with a trigger word that reminds you of your healthy goals…a photo of your child, if that’s who motivates you the most….whatever works.
5. Be sure to check in with yourself about what you are REALLY craving in the moment.
- Are you actually thirsty? — Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve sucked down 3 clementines and a bowl full of grapes only to realize that I’m still ….thristy.
- Are you bored and craving something to do? — Food is often used as the go-to scene changer, entertainment, and/or a reason to gather. What can you do instead? Make a list of 5 other things you enjoy so you have them at the ready the next time you aren’t really hungry but you’re tempted to go eat anyway. Switch it up! Hula-hooping, hop scotching, figurine-whittling, online stalking…whatever it takes.
- Are you wishing to process some feelings or thoughts? — The repetitiveness of chewing motion is soothing to many people. Chewing causes a slight increase in heart rate and triggers slightly increased respiration and blood flow. The increased respiration and blood flow delivers more oxygen to the brain, aiding people in their focus and concentration. (This is why I love to chew gum really fast when I’m excited about an idea. It drives my husband CRAZY. Which I also love.) Chewing can also can cause the body to release insulin, which activates the area of the brain most commonly associated with memory, which can lead to improved concentration and recall ability – so it’s no surprise that many people use eating food to help “process” their thoughts. It’s also no surprise why we keep going back for a second serving of that ice cream, still insatiated—because unless nuts or gumballs were involved—we never got to really chew. Sure, the spoon to mouth action is repetitive…but only half as much as when there’s something crunchy involved. Knowing this—maybe you put some gum in your purse (or murse. We don’t discriminate here.) Or perhaps there’s another repetitive motion you might like to engage in to get a similar result—like walking, looming a hat, even flipping the cards around via a game of solitaire. List 5 alternative repetitive motions that you can do instead. Also list 5 healthy, crunchy foods that you can substitute for your big craving…see if that helps you at all.
- Are you craving a specific taste? There are medical reasons why someone might crave salt, sugar or other flavors. Personally, I should consider installing a salt lick into my kitchen, I crave it so often – and I don’t think it’s because I was born in the year of the horse. Something for me to look into, but I would not have realized it had I not taken the time to slow down and pay attention to my habits and Nacho cravings.
- Are you using food as company? That old familiar friend that knows how to soothe you? Who do you have in your support network who can serve that same role? For some people, Facebook provides the connection they need, for others it’s human connection, and for many it’s God or some form of Higher Being. Start paying attention and dig deeper. Are you craving a deeper connection with someone else….with yourself? Who or what is it that you really want when you think you are hungry?
- Are you really just craving some rest? Is sitting down to eat the only time you actually allow yourself to take a break? If so, what can you do to rest instead? (And can you realize that deep down, being “busy” does not equate being “worthy?” Maybe there’s some thought work to be done in this area if this sounds like you… Hint: you’ve been worthy all along. You can give yourself a break now, just because. You don’t need a plate or a bag of chips to do it.)
- Are you craving routine or ritual as comfort? For me, as soon as I cozy up with a good book, my Pavlovian response is to get a cup of tea and grab some cookies. I love the ritual, the warmth, and the memories it conjures up. Problem is…if I’m really engrossed in a book, I’m not even tasting the cookies! I can easily put away 10 of them without even realizing it. Maybe I need to switch it up a bit—perhaps one or two cookies goes on the plate and I actually pay attention and enjoy each and every bite instead. Again, it’s about being in the moment instead of being in the trance. What can you do to make your rituals healthier?
Those are but a handful of realizations that might be made by simply paying attention, and committing to take back your power whenever, wherever you can. You have the ability to re-frame everything.
I’m starting with Nachos! Just before Cinco de Mayo I might add. Could have picked a better time. This is like breaking up with a boyfriend the week of Valentines day and then hanging out at his office all day…. but hey– maybe I need to face the plate head-on this time.
Who or what do you need to break up with today?
Let me know in the comments below….
Until the next time, Adios Amigas!