Diet lessons seem to require repetition before I really learn them. It seems I’m not alone. I can’t count the times I’ve heard someone tell me how easy their diet is, and how they no longer crave their forbidden foods, only to see them fall off the wagon a bit further down the road.
What happens between “It’s been two whole weeks and I don’t crave sugar at all” and “Yeah, I haven’t been doing very well lately”? In my own experience, life happens; holidays happen; cravings happen. Just about the time I think I’m free of the temptations of junk food, I get invited to a birthday party or a team lunch at work.
To succeed more than you fail I think it’s important to know how your body is going to react over time, and to accept that temptations will keep coming. I think of it similar to holding my breath. It’s easy to hold my breath for 10 seconds. It’s really not too difficult to hold it for 30 seconds. But, at some point my body starts to focus on what it is missing. In a similar way, my body can go without it’s favorite foods for a while, but it will eventually notice the lack. It will compensate by craving them and finding excuses for me to “need” them.
Two weeks of success is easy. It might take effort, but it’s easy to exert the effort for a few weeks, especially if the numbers on the scale are moving down. But what about when those numbers stop or reverse for no apparent reason? How do I stay motivated? What about when someone at work brings a pile of treats that I happen to love? I lose some of these battles and get a fresh realization of where I would be if I made no effort at all. The negative consequences give me the strength to keep trying.
I have a few things that help me.
- I bring my lunch to work every day.
- I don’t eat anything at work that I don’t bring with me, period. Once the food I bring with me is gone, I am done eating until I get home.
- I am unable to use moderation with certain foods, so eliminate them from my diet. Yes, that is what I said.
- I find foods that, for me, make suitable substitutes for higher-calorie foods that I like. For example, I blend cauliflower in a food processor to a consistency similar to mashed potatoes. The taste of cauliflower isn’t as good as potatoes, but it is good enough to keep me happy.
- I have certain foods, like Lindt 70% dark chocolate, that I use to keep me away from other sweet foods. That way I don’t feel like I’m doing completely without foods I love. These foods are incorporated into my daily plan, so eating them is not “cheating” and as long as I keep within my limits, I don’t worry about them.
- I plan ahead. If I’m going to be out of town, I make a plan for what I’m going to eat. If I have a company lunch that would difficult to miss, I plan to have a good time without throwing my goals out the window.
I have a very long road ahead of me. Accepting that temporary troubles will come has kept me focused enough to stay on that road.