Today I want to talk about making choices to eat right, to respect ourselves and our bodies, and to maintain or attain a healthy weight. We all have our triggers, moments when we are sorely tempted to go off of our regular diet and outside of our safe parameters for indulgence. If we give in too often those indulgences become our regular diet and then we are in trouble. My triggers are late night after the kids are asleep, and when I occasionally get to a store without 2 children in tow. The light and easy child free feeling is definitely an occasion for celebration and I find myself eying the candy bars, detouring off of my regular route through the baked goods section, and seriously contemplating food I normally avoid. This is never a problem when I'm out with my children. When I'm with my kids I'm strong, they are watching me, I don't want to give them any because it's not good for them. I've worked hard to get them to the point that they no longer ask for candy, they just look at it like orphans and say mournfully, "I would really like to get some candy but I know that it's not good for me and that we shouldn't eat it, but I would really like to get some." (Direct quote) At which point I make sure to praise them for being so smart and strong and remind them of whatever yummy treat we are planning for our indulgence later or another day and stress that it tastes much better than whatever they are eying. I'm not going to purchase fake food in front of my children, but I think about it when they aren't there. Am I hungry? No. Am I bored and in need of something unusual? Perhaps.
Now we are getting to what I really want to talk about. You see, every decision we make reinforces one behavior or another, every time I choose to raid the fridge at 11pm makes it that much easier to do it the next time, and every time I choose not to makes it that much easier to resist the next time. No moment exists only for itself but builds on past moments and influences future moments. The great thing is that life presents us with many opportunities to change our course and start off in a new direction. Every time to stand in the cookie aisle at the grocery store eying the chocolate covered orange blossom cookies on sale, not because you are planning a special tea with friends later that week and plan to serve them and perhaps taste one yourself, but because you are thinking about eating them on the way home and then hiding the rest of the box in the back of the cupboard and wolfing them down when no one is looking is a chance to change you habits for the better. Just say no this time. You don't have to eat them. Yes it's only one box of cookies, but saying no today helps you to say no tomorrow, and then the next day, and the next. Saying yes makes it harder to say no later. You strengthen yourself or weaken yourself with every response to every temptation. Even on indulgence days, choosing to leave on bite on your plate of the lovely chocolate mousse or ice cream strengthens your resistance your ability to say no when it's in front of you. But it's only one bite you say, what's the big deal? Try it. Can you leave just one bite on the table in front of you and go on without thinking about it, eying it, cutting it in half and eating one half and then cutting it in half again? If you can't, you are not alone, but the practise of leaving it there strengthens your resolve and your ability to be in control of your appetite.
So here are a few tricks that help me get through my tempting times and stick to the plan that I have chosen.
I brush my teeth as soon as I'm finished eating dinner, before I clear the table. I am put off enough by the bother of doing it again before bed that I don't snack, or take bites of my husband's dessert or whatever he brought home with him or eat leftovers that I don't really need if my teeth are already brushed.
I try not to keep snacks in the house that I find hard to resist.
When I go out and want to celebrate I get non food items. Some ideas are:
Fresh flowers, just one or two stems will do, they make me happy to look at them and last a lot longer than a candy bar.
Fruit. I was at the store two days ago and for some reason I could not stop looking at the chocolate brownies. I wanted cherries too but they were more than I wanted to pay, and then I realized that I was about to spend that on chocolate any way and took the cherries home instead.
READ THE LABEL. Nothing puts me off a craving faster than a dose of cold hard reality. Those brownies I was thinking of buying are made out of corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, and dye's and preservatives. I know from experience that that is going to taste disappointing, and I'll want to keep eating because it's not what I really wanted. And, one serving, half a brownie, has more than 200 calories, %50 from fat. It took my whole morning workout to burn that much off, no way walking home from the store is going to make up for it.
Light reading material. I don't normally buy check stand magazines, or any at all for that matter, but I do sometimes if I want to just take a break and relax.
Herbal tea: I like to stop at a coffee shop and get a nice herbal blend, like a citrusy roiboos or something that tastes good without cream or sweetener and sit and savor and enjoy my break.
Water. Stay hydrated and you're less likely to have cravings.
I promise the more you resist the urge to eat mindlessly, and for emotional or habitual reasons, the easier it will be to continue to resist, and pretty soon you will feel better and look better too.