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Chris Moesch: Bad eating habits are hard to break

I felt better when I was sick.

A few months ago, I had surgery and had to eat a soft diet for two months while I healed from the five laparoscopic puncture wounds.

I drank Boost and lots of water and liquid vitamins. I ate oatmeal, scrambled eggs, mashed sweet potatoes and yogurt. I slept a lot and took leisurely walks. I lost a lot of excess weight and it was probably the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life.

Just before Thanksgiving, I was cleared to gradually progress to denser foods. I’m pretty sure my doctor meant I could put blueberries on my oatmeal, but I interpreted his instructions to mean I could finish the Halloween candy.

Because I could (theoretically) eat only a half cup of food at a time during my recovery, I calculated that two fun-sized Milky Ways was a portion size. I ignored my body’s protests when I ate something new (chips, dip, Christmas cookies) instead of mashed potatoes or cream of something soup.

Thanksgiving nearly killed me. I took half-cup size servings of mashed potatoes, squash, stuffing and vegetables. I drank a little bit of water with my meal and waited an hour for a small piece of apple pie. And then I had to go home because I could barely breathe after eating two cups of soft food.

Not only was I on a restricted diet, I held in my hand the Holy Grail, the golden ticket, something women throughout history have heard about but never seen. I had a note from my surgeon forbidding me from exercising for two months! I’d finally found a gym I liked and I couldn’t go see my friends for two months.

I quickly got over it. Did you know that you can find an episode of “Forensic Files” on several different channels at any given time? Hint: If the husband is a pastor, he’s the one who killed his wife. It’s easy to get used to sitting on the couch for a marathon of TV and junk food. Or reading and junk food. Or staring into space and junk food.

What happens? You end up realizing that junk food doesn’t fill you up. Yes, chips take up space in your stomach, but your brain thinks you’re eating Styrofoam peanuts. After two months of rest, healthy eating and drinking lots of water, it pains me to realize how good I could still be feeling.

But habits are hard to break, especially when you’re on a leisurely walk on a sunny day and you pass wonderfully greasy-smelling doughnut shops and burger places. The TV ads for brownie mixes and chain restaurant food started to rewire my brain, so I began craving things I hadn’t even been thinking of for two months.

What kind of warped thinking makes me want empty calories instead of vitamin-infused soups or smoothies? I like soup. It’s not hard to make. It makes me feel good. It’s hard to undo 64 years of choosing fast and easy over the trouble of chopping fruit and putting it in a blender. You might think that two months of progressively improved health might have made an impression on me. I’m still a vegetarian, and I can only eat about a cup of food at a time. It’s amazing, though, how much lo mein or apple pie you can squish into a measuring cup.

In spite of the backsliding, I’m still probably the healthiest I’ve ever been. I remain short but I’m no longer overweight. I’m back at the gym and still off the Coke. I have access to every kind of fruit and vegetable on the market and clean water to drink. It’s almost like being in rehab – one day at a time.

But as Aristotle once wrote, “The road to Condrell’s is paved with good intentions.”