Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fun size is really no fun at all- how to find what works for your level of willpower

FACT. I really like snacks. Crunchy, salty, sweet, chewy… all of those delicious adjectives that we are told time and time again to avoid. Real talk: I once survived almost an entire weekend on chips and salsa.

Yeah, I know, there are all these fitness and health people out there that are like "listen to your body," "stop when you feel 80% full," "if you portion out your food you won't be tempted to go back for more/kill your firstborn/yell at the cat"… uh, yeah, my body usually tells me I totally need more cookies even when I'm 97% full.

I don't particularly think it is difficult to get yourself on the healthy eating train- it really just starts with more unprocessed, real food and less manufactured, packaged crap- but it can be REALLY hard to stay on it sometimes. However, I've found some tricks that work for me and can help keep you in the flow.

1) Don't keep that shit in the house. If you know how hard it is for you to stop after a 1 oz serving of tortilla chips (1 oz… what is that, like 5 chips?), don't buy them. Live with other people that insist on keeping them fully stocked at all times? Ask that your roommates/loved ones keep your trigger foods on a high shelf where you can't see them, or in a cupboard where you don't have any of your own food. The 'out of sight, out of mind' trick is way more likely to succeed than the 'keep them in full sight and try not to think about how much you want them trick.'

2) Fill up on other stuff. If I eat a meal packed with veggies, protein and healthy fats and follow that up with fruit as a dessert, there literally isn't any space left for crap food. Try 'crowding out' foods you are trying to avoid. For example, my absolute favorite lunch right now is a giant bowl filled with roasted beets, bell pepper, avocado (healthy fat=key to satiation), tomato, carrot, spinach and protein (either tuna or chicken usually). I generally finish that off with an apple or persimmon straight from the fridge.. and once I'm done, I literally can't think about putting anything else in my mouth. (Don't like salad? Try soup, a veggie stir fry or add extra vegetables to a pasta sauce and serve it over spaghetti squash!)

3) Take a few minutes to think. If you are in the grocery store, read before you put things in your grocery basket. I usually read the whole label on the package before I decide if I am going to buy something debatable. At home and can't stop thinking about that bar of chocolate? Take 5 minutes, drink a glass of water, and think about what you really want. If you legitimately want a piece of chocolate- eat it. The idea isn't to constantly deprive yourself of things you really want, but to make more conscious decisions about what we put in our bodies.

4) Distract yourself. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat on my couch, thinking about a snack that I know is just inside the kitchen cupboard, only to start doing something else and then realize hours later that I completely forgot about said snack. Eating when you're bored is probably one of the easiest ways to sabotage yourself… and one of the hardest things to teach yourself not to do. Usually I try browsing Spotify for new music, going for a walk, picking up a book, or googling crossfit or lifting or nutrition blogs (if you're into other things, google that. Unless you like pictures of abs.)

5) Find other things you like to eat. I know, a carrot stick is never going to replace a tortilla chip. So don't try to 'replace' things. Just find other, healthier, stuff you like to eat, and keep that handy in your kitchen. Really like sweet things? Try eating a date or an apple instead of a cookie or chocolate. Into crunchy and salty? Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes can make killer chips. I've found that full fat greek yogurt with cinnamon can be very successful at getting rid of my sugar cravings, and salted tahini with a little bit of honey is perfect for when I want something sweet and salty.

Any tips of your own? Any of this helpful for you? Think I'm full of shit? Let me know!

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