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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Escaping from a cycle of bad eating

So, it's been a few days since Easter, and I don't know about you, but I've indulged in the candy a few times too many! Did you know that Easter and Halloween are two of the biggest holidays for candy sales and consumption? And if you have kids, it's hard to do a complete moratorium, since even if you don't get them any candy, they're likely to end up with some from school or local egg hunts. This time of year I'm almost jealous of my Jewish friends celebrating passover. I would be much less tempted by Matzo than I am by those darned peanut butter eggs!

For me, each piece of candy I eat seems to open the door towards eating more. It's as if my mind has said, "well, clearly it's okay to eat some of this." So while I might start on day one with just one mini twix, by day two I've had a mini twix and a mini reese's peanut butter cup, and by day three I'm wondering if my kids will notice if I eat both of their peanut butter eggs! (Answer: Yes, they will. Not that I've done it. Yet. Some things, a mom just knows!)

I went through this same thing at Halloween, and after a week of what felt like a downward spiral, I decided to take matters into my own hands and get back to healthy eating. Now it's time for me to do the same thing, and I'll share some strategies so that those of you suffering can find a way out as well!
  1. Throw it out. Okay, this technique is easiest for those without kids, or with very young kids. Basically, a week after the holiday, you just throw it all away. Put it in a bag in the outside trash. You can keep one piece for each year of each child's age if you'd like. Trust me, they'll know how many you have, and you won't be able to sneak any!
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. Instead of leaving the candy out in a dish or in their easter basket, put it all into a brown paper bag, and put it on the top shelf of the pantry. Get it down when your kids ask for a treat. Without having it under your nose, it will be easier to get through your day without eating any. And, your kids may even start to forget how much they have, which means you can strategically follow strategy #1, with just a few pieces at at time, over the next few weeks.
  3. Buy it. From your kids, that is. Last Halloween, I told my kids I'd give them $0.25 for each piece of candy. $18 later, I had a nice full bag, and they each had a few pieces of just their very favorite candies. I took my bag to work, where the candy disappeared in less than a day. It was one of the best investments I ever made! And the upside was that my kids weren't upset about losing their candy.
  4. Have a piece of fruit. When you are considering eating a piece of candy or chocolate, crush that sugar craving by having a nice fresh and juicy piece of fruit. Really sweet fruit like pineapple or mango is often best. The fiber in the fruit helps make you feel full, and the sugar will help get you over the craving.
  5. Write it down. If you aren't journaling your food yet, now is the time to start. Sure, there may not be an easy way to determine the calories in one mini M&M, but if you eat one, WRITE IT DOWN! You may think twice about eating it next time. Jillian Michaels has also suggested writing down how you're feeling when you eat unhealthy foods. This can help you determine if your eating is emotionally based.
  6. Make it just one day. For one day, put a moratorium on candy. No matter how tempted you are, just think to yourself, "I'm not eating any candy today," and move on. Once you've proven to yourself that you can make it through a day without candy, you may find it easier to decide to pass on it the next day.

As for me, this is my confession time. So here we go!

On April 11, I ate a mini twix, mini reese's peanut butter cup, mini dark chocolate bar, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

On April 12, I ate three chocolate chip cookies, a mini twix, and half a glazed donut.

On April 13, I ate a mini reese's peanut butter cup, 2 wintergreen lifesavers, and 3 cups of popcorn (which I ate while trying to keep myself from eating the peanut butter eggs)!

That's where it stopped. After reviewing what I had documented (using strategy #5) for the previous three days, I was upset with myself for my apparent lack of control. I decided I wasn't having any more of my kid's candy. So I implemented strategy #2, and when I had a craving, had a nice plum (strategy #4).

Fortunately, I got control before I developed a habit of poor eating. I hope these techniques help you do the same!

(And thank goodness we now have over six months until Halloween!)

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Those are some excellent tips right there, Liz!!!!!! I may have to follow each I love the Jillian Michael's tip. And I like the #6 tip the most - that's a great example of short term goal setting strategies quite honestly.

    Nice blog too!!!