Temporary Deprivation Experiments (or, Why I Stopped Eating Cookies for a Month)

Don’t worry, it’s not as horrible as it sounds.

On my previous post about minimalism, I mentioned I would stop drinking soda for a month. Update on that: I did it! Not a drop of soda for the whole month of March. Now I still drink soda, but WAY less than I used to. I found out that I don’t really like it that much, and I mostly drank it out of pure inertia. This soda-less month also helped me make a habit of drinking more water.

Nearly everyone thought that I was going on a diet when I mentioned my little experiment, but that’s not exactly what I intended. The whole point was to deprive myself from something so I could be more aware of the role it plays in my life. Sounds super deep for soda, but it did make me notice how much of it I was needlessly drinking. Now I’ll only have that glass of Fanta when I really want to.

For the month of May I decided to go with something a little bit harder: cookies. I mindlessly eat cookies very often (partly because there’s always cookies in my house, and in coffee breaks at work), sometimes without even being hungry. I’ll just see cookies and take one, almost mechanically. Have you ever had too many snacks and felt like “man, I shouldn’t have had that much”? Yeah.

explaining this to my family and co-workers has been weird.

Want to try this experiment? Okay, here’s what I do:

  1.  Choose a thing that you feel is an excess in your life, and you want to have more control over. Too many cookies? Too much time spent on social media? Choose something you can live without for a limited time, even if it’s hard (especially if it’s hard)
  2. Give yourself a time span to avoid this thing or habit completely. You need to set an end date, if you know this rule isn’t forever it’s easier to follow it to the end. It can be a week or 2 weeks or a month.
  3. Stick to it. No excuses.

Doing this is gonna be hard, especially at the beginning, but as time goes on you’ll find better alternatives to the thing you’re missing – like finding new things to do with the time you used to spend on Facebook, or finding that water is actually way more effective than soda if you’re thirsty. These new alternatives and habits will help you stay in control after your deprivation experiment is over.

I’m going with little things now, but I want to think of these as little steps towards bigger changes in the future. I started doing this inspired by some posts by The Minimalists, in which Joshua Fields Millburn gets rid of his phone for two months (here’s a post when he started, and one from when he was done). I don’t know if I could be that drastic, but I’ve been considering things like blocking social media completely for a couple days, or only allow myself to use it during certain hours so I don’t waste too much time. It certainly sounds like something helpful in the long run.

Is there something you could try to live without? are you willing to try it?