When I go to my parent’s house, I snack like crazy. My parents set out a serving bowl filled with candies and bars.
When I walk through the door I reflexively go to the bowl with the peanut-filled M&Ms, grab a handful and munch. Just one . . maybe two . . . probably three handfuls total.
I get my fix.
My wife does NOT set out bowls of candy. This behavior is not a problem for me at home, because it is UNAVAILABLE.
Now here is another interesting self-observation.
I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. If I had to thoughtfully select a piece of candy, Reese’s would be it.
The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are also available for munching at my parent’s home, but I do NOT snack on them.
The thin orange wrapping gives me a moment of pause and allows my frontal cortex (brain) to intervene:
No you don’t. If you want to stay in size 34 pants, you will not be opening that wrapper.
(This is for literary effect. I assure you I do not talk to myself.)
Dr. Wansink, in his book Mindless Eating, lays out why our environment matters so much when it comes to eating (and staying thin).
You can make a big impact on what you eat by rearranging your environment to promote healthy choices. The more we see bad foods, the more we eat them.
The concept is simple, but most people never apply this to their household.
Your mission (should you choose to accept) is to reengineer your environment to automatically (maybe even subconsciously) make better choices.
The first line of defense is to keep junk food out of the house
Your house is your fortress. Junk food is your enemy.
First, do everything in your power to get the crap out of your house. This is not easy. The enemy has already infiltrated and persuades you to bring in more.
The point of entry is the grocery bag. If you are the “Nutritional Gatekeeper” for your household you need to be vigilant about what gets in.
Your best bet for a successful trip to the grocery store:
Pig out before shopping.
If you are going to eat big one day a week, make it the hour before you go shopping. A fat and sugar induced coma will keep you from making bad purchases. If you really have difficulty at the store, try indulging in junk food prior to going to make yourself feel a wee bit guilty as you walk by the chip isles.
Less extreme would be to eat a healthy meal or snack and simply avoid hunger while in the isles.
Make a list, stick to it.
Planning ahead is not easy, but essential. Add only healthy foods to your list and stick to it. Experiment with new recipes that utilize the power of fruits and veggies. Be brave.
Also, I would suggest that you make a DO NOT BUY list to remind yourself to NOT buy the Cookie Dough Ice Cream you crave.
Stay out of the middle isles.
Nothing of value lingers in the middle isles. This is where the chips, cookies, bars, juices, pop and other indulgent goodies hang out. Stay away and you will avoid the temptation. Stick to the produce isle.
Now, if the enemy gets in, lets create a killer second defense.
Keep junk food out of sight
So, the enemy got in. Now what? There is still hope. Remember, if you see the food you are more likely to go after it. So, keep those tempting foods out of sight.
Throw out the unhealthy foods
Clear the environment and start over. Identify all of the crap, heave it into the garbage or give it away if you must. (But realize that you really are not serving someone by giving them your unhealthy foods). Put it where it really belongs – the garbage.
Banish tempting foods to the darkness
You have decided you cannot part with the Chunky Funky Popcorn. The next best option is to hide it. Yes, place it deep into the recesses of the basement, so that it is forgotten. The deeper and darker the better.
Take the Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby Ice Cream and shove it behind the frozen No Name Steaks.
Absolutely no candy bowls sitting out. Put the candy in opaque containers and high up in the pantry, hard to reach. The farther away, the less likely you will bother. Studies show that even a few feet makes a difference. If you feel that you cannot rid yourself of the canned pop because “I might need it for guests,” put it in a box, out of sight and in the garage.
Lastly, If you are really having trouble parting with your junk food try this tactic.
Get several boxes of various sizes and duct tape. Place your junk food in multiple boxes, tape them up and place the smaller boxes into bigger boxes. Finish off with more duct tape. Make it annoying to get into. I doubt you will go back.
With the enemy banished, lets create an environment where success is inevitable.
Keep the healthy foods (fruits and vegetables) visible
Put fruit on the table
Make this an excuse to buy a fancy crystal bowl (or that 4-tier fruit rack you have been eyeing) to exhibit your fruit. Make it look amazing and ready to eat. Make the apples shine. Display the oranges and bananas.
Create a cornucopia of fruit that will not be ignored. You’ll consume it.
Make your veg accessible
Buy a vegetable tray and keep it on the first level in the fridge.
Make sure some low-fat ranch dip or hummus is easily in reach. Buy a pre-washed plastic box of spinach or mixed greens for salad creation. Place your favorite salad toppings in containers neatly nearby.
Grab a plate, take a handful of greens, some unsalted walnuts, craisins, Braggs Braggberry Dressing. Boom! You have a salad.
Plan ahead to make your healthy options convenient and you are on the road to creating successful eating habits for weight loss.
For thoughtful, well-researched, further reading make sure to check out the resource below.