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We should not view eating in a “good/bad,” “saint/sin” way, but the truth is we can and will eat badly. While this can be avoided with the will of steel, sometimes we will decide to give our wills of steel a day (or two? Or more?) off.
When this happens or when you decide to eat as you should not be eating, be selective in what you are eating and when you are eating it. A treat does not hurt every now and then, but it is a waste to eat a sweet or food item that we do not really care for just because we can.
If you are going to cheat, cheat sparingly and selectively. Do not waste your cheating opportunities on stuff that you do not really want to eat and are only eating because you are craving something sweet/salty/etc. or because it happens to be around.
I’m not really one to keep a calorie and food intake journal, but there is something to keeping general track of what goes into our bodies, how often we veer off the path/how often we stay on the path, the changes in our weight, how often we exercise, and how long we exercise. It terms of memory recall, it can be easy to forget how often we eat poorly or indulge and to think that we exercise and eat more healthily than we do.
Keeping a food-weight-exercise-progress journal helps for giving you a sense of the progress that you’re making, without having to track everything that you’re eating. When used in conjunction with the other weight loss tips on this page, it also should not be necessary to track everything that you’re eating as it should be (for the most part) consistent and portioned. Keeping a food-weight-exercise- progress journal also gives you insight into your behaviors and eating patterns, and identifies areas that you can target for improvement so as to better support your efforts.
I once read the weight loss advice that was something to the effect of “don’t tell yourself you can’t have it; tell yourself you don’t want it.” This was supposed to be a more empowering version that re-framed how the mind looks at the restriction (by no longer seeing it as a restriction) and places the control back to the individual and what he or she wants.
The trouble with this approach for me was that most times I did want it and to tell myself otherwise seemed like a lie that I had a hard time believing. So what helps me to re-frame how I view the desireditem is to acknowledge: “Yes, I want it. But do I really want it?” Most times I want the item, but don’t really want it. So it helps to delay gratification and to “cash in the calories” for something I really want.
Accounting for calories required in normal and structured eating, while being mindful of the calories to come in unstructured or unplanned eating helps me to balance the calories that I am taking in. Evaluating if the food is something I want or if it is something I really want helps me to balance the budget and to determine if the unstructured or unplanned eating is something I will be having, and if I am having it, how much I will be having. In the same way that one only has so much money available to pay bills and to account for all the other expenses without having to turn to debt or to alternative financial resources, one only has so many calories available to spend without going into a caloric debt that results in caloric excess/breaking the budget. Keeping future caloric expenses in mind helps to keep the present caloric expenses in check.
This one is for when you have decided that you are going to allow yourself some indulgence but do not want to overdo it and know that it is likely that you will because your willpower and self-control might give.
Make yourself eat the healthy food first, eat slowly, and drink lots of water. Give your body time to fill up on the good stuff before you reach for the desserts and chips, that way it will be physically uncomfortable for you to overdo it. This is a good plan for when your willpower gives. Your body will give you an unpleasant reminder that you are full and that you should stop eating! And the good part is that you are full of healthy food and that you still allowed yourself to have a little somethin’-somethin’ on the sweet side.
Have you decided that you’re going to allow yourself some indulgence? Is it Christmas? Or the office potluck? Or the never-ending month of birthdays? Never fear. You don’t have to say “no” to everything (but be careful with saying “yes!”).
As events come up, or as you decide that you will be allowing yourself some indulgence(s), it helps to decide and to know beforehand what you will be allowing yourself to have. One slice of cake? One scoop of ice cream with some toppings?
Decide before you go to the event, don’t give it more thought after the decision is made, and stick to your decision when you go the event. Don’t give the indulgence more time, thought, or energy than it deserves and save your willpower for more pressing things.
The truth is, we are not our ideal, best- thinking, balanced selves when we are hungry. We overestimate how much we need to eat (“eat with our eyes”), we overeat, we eat things we shouldn’t eat, we say things we don’t mean, etc. Our primal instinct and drive to eat takes over and nothing else really matters.
So it is good to not go places hungry, even if there will be food at the place you are going to. Generally, it takes time for food to arrive at the table, for people to decide what they want to eat, for hosts to have things ready to roll, for social and interpersonal activities to take place, etc. which means that going hungry to any place makes you more likely to be irritable and on a one-track mind to get your physiological needs met. Going to places hungry also doesn’t support the best decision-making so it’s good practice to eat something before you go.
After you eat, practice thorough mouth hygiene. Rinse your mouth with pre-brush mouthwash, brush your teeth, floss, and then use post-brush mouthwash. Make your mouth super clean.
Doing this serves two purposes:
1. You practice good hygiene and keep bacteria from getting too comfortable in their new home.
2. You deter further eating because of all the effort you have put into cleaning your mouth and because anything you eat after doing such a thorough cleaning will be minty fresh.
I am sure that there are people out there who will tell you that their head of broccoli tastes just like a French fry and as you study this person’s face, he or she might look like he or she actually believes it. Then there are people who have the time and money to put into diversifying and tastifying* their healthy food and so they do not feel that eating healthily is all that bad.
When financial resources and time are limited, healthy eating will not be that diverse and more likely than not, healthy eating will not be that tasty. Even when financial resources and time are not limited, healthy eating will still not taste like unhealthy eating.