If you are on this path with me, reading along, well first of all THANK YOU and secondly, you have done such an amazing job so far, no matter what first steps you've taken! We know refined processed flours and grains are not our friend. We know that added sugars are NOT our friend. We know these things are snuck into our food even in “healthy option. This is our new life and new baseline. But, things happen in life, we don’t always have control over our options and sometimes we just live life! So, what to do…
1) PLAN AHEAD: If you put a JOY EAT into your protocol somehow, then plan when it is going to be, at least 24hours ahead of time. We make better decisions when we decide ahead of time. Also, this will limit the FREQUENCY of when you take in a treat and when you get to that time, you might not even still want it. You knowyou are going to go to meet friends on Saturday night or for coffee Sunday? Or you have a work dinner at a really great restaurant? Decide ahead of time what you will let yourself treat yourself to. And then ENJOY IT.
2) If you decide to have a treat, go OUT to eat it so you only have a single serving and you don’t end up with a tub of ice cream in your fridge for whenever you want it.
3) Reduce the SIZE of the low nutrition food. Can you order a kid's size? Can you split it with someone? It is easier to throw away half of something first than to stop eating halfway through. Portion out for yourself. Put a handful of whatever it is into a small ramekin bowl and put the bag away.
4) ENJOY IT ON YOUR TERMS AND BE PRESENT WITH IT WHILE YOU DO IT. Don’t beat yourself up while you are eating it or analyze it. You made this choice. Be with it. Taste the crumble or the savoriness. Bite tiny. Chew slowly. Make it WORTH your choice. This is what it looks like to include low-nutrition foods on our terms - to enjoy them in a way that allows us to savor each and every bite without guilt. When there’s no guilt or shame in eating a cookie, we get a lot more enjoyment from the experience and don’t have all the mental chatter that it’s bad or fattening or that we did something shameful just by eating it. When you are feeling rotten about what you’re eating, or envisioning each bite going straight to your trouble zones, you can’t possibly enjoy it 100%. Even worse, with all that going on, we tend to eat more of the treat, especially if we tell ourselves we won’t or can’t do it again for a while. In comparison, if we’re just enjoying it, we might finish it or we might find at some point we’ve had enough, and we’re good.
5) Choose things that are high yield enjoyableness for you. If you think back over the low-nutrition foods you had over the last few days, one or two of them might not have been amazingly enjoyable, but more so-so or just okay. Paring out that type of experience doesn’t decrease life enjoyment by any appreciable amount and can save you considerable calories, often enough to lose weight. To use this tactic to your advantage, practice passing up low-nutrition foods that aren’t on your personal “highest enjoyment list”. And, if you can’t tell at first glance whether a low-nutrition food is “worth it” or not, let the first bite be your test. If it’s not amazing, don’t eat any more. This strategy can contribute to your lifetime leanness while still keeping lots of enjoyable experiences in your life. Notice that what makes a low-nutrition food worth it can include not just the food itself (cheesecake for example), but can also, or alternately, include the environment/situation in which the low-nutrition food is eaten (when on a date, when out with friends, etc.). So, "Only If It’s Awesome" is the golden rule to bear in mind when it comes to low-nutrition foods.
So, there you go. Minimize low nutrition foods for your long-term health and weight wellness. But, life happens. You control your choices. Plan for good choices. If you decide to joy eat, plan it be worth it and plan it ahead of time to reduce size and frequency, and ENJOY IT.
I am Dr Heather Hammerstedt, I have my doctorate in medicine, board certification in emergency medicine and lifestyle medicine, an integrative nutrition health coaching certificate, a medical acupuncture certificate, a masters in public health, and two tiny crazy muppet humans and a hilarious husband who keep me honest. I’m also the CEO and Founder of Wholist, a lifestyle medicine coaching and consulting company that specializes in helping busy professional transform their current and future health futures to meet their goals, all with evidence, education, empowerment delivered by flexible technology to meet you where you are to help you succeed. Join us on Facebook for ongoing discussions in the Wholist’s Hammerstedt Health and Wellness public group! I can answer all your questions there!