So far my Tasty Tuesday posts have been mostly recipes and reviews of new restaurants I’ve checked out but after having a near meltdown over movie theatre popcorn on the weekend, I wanted to use this day to talk about the biggest opponent to many weight loss and health journeys: food.
If you’re like me, great food is one of the best parts of the day. I love eating, though I don’t always do it for the right reasons. I eat when I’m hungry (good) but I also eat when I’m sad, mad, bored, celebrating, tired, etc. (bad). Throughout this journey I’ve been getting better at finding ways to stop myself from needlessly eating and from eating things that are no good for my body. Through meal planning and tracking I’ve gotten much better at eating healthy throughout the week with minimal slip ups but that does not mean everything is perfect, nor does it mean it is easy.
Last week was a train wreck in terms of healthy eating. It started on Saturday after indulging at Bareburger and it continued on until I left my parents house on Wednesday. There was Chinese food, treats from my family from PEI, chicken wings and mac and cheese, doughnuts, and a few pastries I should have stayed away from.
By the time I got home Wednesday evening I knew I should be eating nothing but chicken and greens for the next few days but that didn’t happen. I was good on Thursday and Friday but Saturday rolled around and I had dinner plans with Matt and his dad. To make matters worse I stopped at Starbucks and grabbed a White Chocolate Mocha (340 calories for a tall, wtf!?). At dinner I ordered “Basket Bites” which were essentially little appetizer portions of fried foods. Nacho cheese sticks, potato pancakes, and tempura green beans were definitely not the healthiest choice on the menu but none of their salads struck me as interesting and being a pub, most of the food was fried. Then, to top it all off we went home and did a junk food run because I couldn’t seem to get over the fact that we didn’t get dessert at dinner. A bag of kettle chips and some Mrs. Fields cookies later and I was back to feeling like crap.
I could have let this keep going, went right back into eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I could have said “Well, I’ll start fresh again tomorrow” but I might’ve kept saying that for weeks and then I’d be right back to where I was three months ago. So I stood in the lobby of our movie theatre and stared at the three different concession locations with a burning desire in my stomach and an angry voice in my head. I went back and forth, trying to decide, knowing that Matt would agree to whatever decision I made. He couldn’t make it for me, I had to make the call.
I walked away.
It wasn’t easy but skipping my favourite treat was a good lesson for me in willpower and it got me thinking about some things I can do next time to make the ordeal a bit easier. That is what I’m here to share with you. These are my four tips to dealing with those everyday temptations of delicious but unhealthy foods.
#1 Avoid temptation: This one is obvious, if you’re bound to get tempted by something don’t have it around. I have lots of friends and family who have a junk drawer in their house and I commend them for their self control. I can’t do it. If the food is in my house I will eat it, not just when it’s time for a treat but when I’m bored. However, I’m lucky in the sense that I can actually keep junk in the house, it’s just out of reach. No, not hidden (I’d find it) but physically out of reach. Our cupboard above the fridge is too deep and too far to get to. We only have high top chairs that aren’t any good for standing on so Matt is the only one who can access this cupboard. We keep a bunch of small chocolates and sweets up there for “emergencies” so they aren’t accessible all the time. I’ve only managed to get something down from that cupboard once and now Matt has made it impossible so bam, temptation gone.
#2 Plan ahead: It’s impossible to avoid temptation all the time unless you plan on locking yourself up in your home with nothing but kale chips and avocados. You’re bound to make plans to go out sometime so the best solution I’ve found is to plan ahead. If you’re choosing the restaurant you can pick somewhere that has a healthy option you know you enjoy. If you aren’t choosing the restaurant take a look at their menu before you go. I try to pick a few options that are healthier and keep them in mind for the night of. Choosing a few options helps in case you’re just not in the mood for the spinach and goat cheese salad again. Additionally, planning ahead may involve eating much healthier throughout the day to make room for that slightly unhealthy meal. This does not mean skipping meals or starving yourself. It means loading up on veggies and fruits as well as some good proteins to get you through.
#3 Pick a healthier alternative: This one is probably my favourite of the options and it’s the one I use the most. Since I eat most of my meals at home, having a healthy alternative of some of the foods I love helps me stay on track. I do spaghetti squash instead of actual spaghetti, bun-less burgers, healthy cracker chips, pizza made on tortilla shells, and my personal favourite is light popcorn. My love of popcorn is what brought about this whole reflection so it makes sense that it is one of the things I have found a way to keep into my diet. The Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop! is my personal favourite but I also enjoy Skinny Pop and Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP which are all tasty and low in calories.
#4 Indulge in moderation: Finally, if you cannot avoid temptation, plan ahead, or pick a healthier alternative and there’s no way to walk away, then indulge, just do it carefully. Don’t do what I did and have 5-6 days off where nothing counted, go out, enjoy yourself, and just be mindful to get back at it the next day. You can also consider packing away half of your meal (ask for a takeout container right away) to cut down the calories or substituting out your fries for something healthier. Those little decisions go a long way and can really add up over time. Yes, there will still be days when a burger and fries is just what you needed, just don’t make it every day.
I’m sure there are other ways to help curb cravings. I know there are lists of what healthy food you should eat when you’re craving something bad which is never a bad idea to check out. The key is to find what helps motivate you. For instance, when I find myself about to eat out of boredom I try to change whatever I’m doing to something that involves using my hands. As long as my hands are busy I don’t have as much of an urge to stuff my face as I do when I’m just sitting watching tv. Bullet journalling and board games have been my top two distractions that keep me from needlessly eating.
I hope some of you found these tips useful, even if some of them are pretty much common sense. If you have any tips you’d like to share please drop them in the comments below!