Eating the Foods You Love
Even if you have the best intentions, everyone has their food temptations. By planning ahead and having some strategies for managing those temptations, you can avoid a lot of setbacks. If you do feel like you “go off the rails,” it’s important to realize that it’s actually part of the process of starting new habits. Use it as a learning opportunity for avoiding those situtations in the future!
Almost all of us have one (or more!) foods or drinks that we find too hard to resist. What Kryptonite was to Superman those foods or drinks are to you. When limiting portion size isn’t realistic, the safest approach is to just not let those things come into your house in the first place. But if someone else in the house insists on having them, try one of these approaches:
- Always have a healthy snack on hand, so you can eat that whenever you get a craving for the thing you are avoiding. Don’t just rely on willpower.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Make sure the thing(s) you are trying to avoid are not easily viewed or in reach. You won’t think about them as often and when you do, that extra work to get them will slow you down and give you a chance to choose something else.
- Anticipate the problem. Usually there is a certain place or situation that makes it hard to resist temptation. Do you graze the snack table at a party? Make sure to eat a balanced meal before going and plant yourself far away to try to limit the temptation.
- Beware the NIGHT! It’s extra hard to avoid eating and drinking in the evenings because our brains are tired. They are literally running on less charge than in the morning so the energy our brain needs to resist temptation just isn’t as high. Instead of needing to use willpower every evening to avoid eating or drinking something, how about spending the time after dinner in a room that doesn’t have that food or drinks?
Avoiding Trouble By Planning Ahead
How many times have you started a week (or even a day) with the right intentions to eat healthy and then found yourself stuck in a situation where you were hungry, didn’t have the time or ingredients to make or buy what you had planned, and then ended up eating something you regretted? With a little advance planning, you could have had something that was healthy and that you enjoyed.
The simplest way to cut down on these situations is to spend just a few seconds each morning planning what type of meals and snacks you’ll have for the day. Or if you really aren’t likely to do that in the morning, then do it the night before. And we’re not talking about detailed meal planning and shopping lists- we know that’s not realistic for a lot of people. What IS realistic for EVERYONE is to just spend 10 seconds asking these questions for each upcoming meal:
- Am I going to MAKE this meal?
- Am I going to eat something I BOUGHT, like a frozen dinner or protein shake.
- Am I going to eat at a restaurant?
This is incredibly helpful because meals you make at home are usually healthier than pre-made meals, and even those are healthier than what you’ll end up eating at most restaurants. If you want to end up less often at a fast food restaurant or eating a frozen pizza, it will help a lot to think about that before you’re hungry and stressed out with no good alternatives.
Action items for the week:
- Practice portion control with the foods you want to cut down.
- Plan at least a few of your meals, and see if you stick to your plan.
- Get physical activity at least three days this week.
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on May 29, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.