A few weeks ago I attended a wonderful cooking class taught by my friend Theresa Piane Taylor, who’s a health coach here in Wilmington, Delaware. The title of the class was “Eating Green” and Theresa introduced us to recipes using a wide variety of different green, leafy vegetables, something that is missing from the diet of most Americans. Theresa encouraged us to include these greens in our diet – every day – as they provide a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals.
As we sampled all the yummy recipes (my favorites were Kale, sautéed with garlic, walnuts and cranberries and the Arugula, Green Bean and Salmon Salad) my thoughts turned to how difficult it is for us to change our habits – even if we know they are bad for us. With food this could be trying to include more greens in our diet (as we were being encouraged to in the class), committing to cooking more meals at home or simply choosing a piece of fruit instead of a cookie.
Dealing with habit is at the heart of the Alexander Technique. While Alexander principles can be used to help address any habit, they are commonly used to address those of poor posture or coordination, and excess tension – those habits that can cause us pain, fatigue and anxiety and that stop us performing at our best.
However, as I worked with Theresa over the last year on making changes to my diet, it seemed clear to me that the Alexander Technique was an extremely useful skill to have up my sleeve to help me change these habits too. The ability to pause, think through the available options to make an informed, conscious choice, and follow through on the steps needed to make the changes, was completely applicable and invaluable to me as I addressed my eating habits.
Highlights of changes I successfully made are:
- I’m pretty much caffeine-free now (just a little bit of chocolate occasionally!)
- My diet is no longer wheat-based (used to be almost every meal; now I can go a few days without wheat and not even notice)
- My diet now includes lots of other whole grains (barley, oats, brown rice and quinoa are some of my new favorites)
- I eat a lot more, and a greater variety of, leafy greens (and love them!)
Life goes on, and I’m still learning and forming new habits – but if I need or want to change one, I can rely on the Alexander Technique to help me see it through.
Do you have habits you have successfully changed? What do you still struggle with? I’d be interested to know what approaches have helped you.