The last few weeks have been particularly trying for me when it comes to eating. Chicago teachers were on strike and to say strike line foods are unhealthy is an understatement! Before the strike even began, it was announced that “if you want healthy snacks, bring them yourself!”
I in fact did not bring my own snacks and planned to just continue my fast during the picketing times and eat the meals I already prepared once we were done. I have been so committed for so long, a few sweets and treats surely wouldn’t temp me right?!
I’ve eaten biscuit sandwiches, pizza, and french fries galore. I even ate a cake pop. What!?! Some of these foods aren’t even temptation to me on the regular… or even foods that I would try to make an exception for.
I know better, but the stress of striking… of standing outside in the cold and sometimes rain for 4 hours at a time… of commuting to use a bathroom… of not truly knowing when we would get a fair contract and get back to work… that stress all manifested itself in eating and snacking.
Old habits dies hard, right?
After a week of bugging out, I started to get myself back on track. I needed to get my life together 1) to make sure that my work pants fit whenever we do return and 2) because my coworker asked me how do I resist the temptation to eat foods that are right in my face. She literally pulled me over to the table of doughnuts and asked me how I was able to stay away. Little did she know, that she just so happened to catch me on a good day. So I took her through my “check yourself” steps:
1. Look up the food in question on MyFitnessPal
One thing that I do is look up the macros in the food to see how much damage it would do to my regular plan. I started with the munchkins from Dunkin Donuts. They are small so the initial rationale is…
It’s less than a whole doughnut.
It can’t be as bad as eating a whole doughnut. Right?
That is 9 grams of carbs for just one munchkin. But what are the odds that I would only eat one? Their cute little size may make them seem innocent, but it also makes them easier to devour.
If I were to eat even just three munchkins I would consume surpass my daily carb limit with 27 grams of carbs, all kinds of ingredients that my body has learned to function without and 15 grams of sugar. All for what?
Is it worth it?
2. Plan your off plan food
Obviously the objective is to stay on plan. If I make the choice not to, then I make sure that it is one part of the day, not the whole day.
On this particular day, I already had an off plan meal scheduled. (I was going to get french fries later for lunch.) I know I know… but I was stress eating.
Knowing that I was going to eat french fries later, I could not just grab at the donuts on the table. Double dipping in carbs would have even more adverse effects on my body and I would be more likely to eat off plan again and again if I over indulged on this one day. While I loosened the leash a little, I was not planning on abandoning my plan completely.
Is it worth it?
3. Remember the effect of eating processed carbs
Honestly, when I reintroduce refined sugar and/or grains and processed carbs to my system it does not feel good. I get a headache, my eyes start itching like my allergies are being activated, and I feel extremely bloated. Indulging for more than one day makes me feel sluggish, foggy brained, and just blah.
Especially after the struggle of getting back on track, potentially experiencing Keto flu…again, indulging in some foods just don’t seem worth feeling uncomfortable later.
Is it worth it to you?
4. Ask yourself “Why?”
As I’ve mentioned before, self awareness and mental health is an important part of your healthy lifestyle. When I feel internally pressured or driven to eat something off plan after seeing it, I do a self assessment of why I want to eat those foods.
Am I sleepy? Stressed? Bored? Overwhelmed? What is triggering this craving or desire?
Once I identify my trigger I see another option:
- drink water/coffee
- chew gum
- find something else to do besides looking at this food
The power of suggestion is very strong. Finding something else to preoccupy my attention typically helps remove the desire to snack.
5. Remember your long term goals
Another question that I like to ask myself when I am really self aware is:
Does eating this help get me closer to my goals?
Granted, eating off plan every now and then will not damage your overall goals. In fact, I have learned that sometimes it is more stressful to avoid eating something off plan depending on the social situation. Be advised, however, that you have to be honest with yourself and your level of discipline before going out and saying “oh, this will just be one time.”
Don’t play yourself. Be real and set yourself up for success.
Check Your Mental
Self awareness is an important part of your healthy lifestyle. Set yourself up for success by following the suggestions above and below:
- Keep small snacks in your car, bag, desk, or purse in case of unforseen temptation.
- Chewing gum helps to keep your mouth busy without consuming carbs and calories.
- Get an accountability partner or system that you can check in with when you’re not feeling your strongest.