With all of the articles out there about the holidays wreaking havoc on weight loss, it got me thinking about everyday food choices. Have you ever heard that old adage “you are what you eat?” Well, I’m starting to see it for what it is: the truth. The older I get and the more I run, the less I want junk food and when I do eat it, the worse I feel.
I’ve found myself craving healthier foods, and salads and veggies aren’t as dull-sounding a side as they once were. Potato chips aren’t as appealing anymore, and packaged cookies have long failed to derive any excitement from me.
My interest in food labels really kicked off when I took a nutrition class in my undergraduate studies. Boy, was that an eye opener! There is so much information out there about what’s healthy and what’s not, and then even more information that surfaces contradicting the rest. It’s mind boggling.
Lately, I’ve really begun to be even more cautious in what I eat. I’ve cut out most fried foods and other obvious “evils,” and try to stay away from processed foods altogether. I’m not saying I don’t eat junk at all, because I do. I just don’t make it ALL I eat. I’ve learned to look at it as a treat instead of as a staple.
Because I like to share knowledge with anyone who is interested, here are some ways I’ve found to limit my own junk food intake, indulge without overdoing it, and feel better overall.
Out of sight = out of mouth
If you don’t want to eat junk, then don’t buy it (or the ingredients to make it). This is one of the most effective ways I’ve found to cut back on junk. You are less likely to be thinking about junk food if it’s not calling out to you from the cupboard, and even less likely to hop in the car to go get it. It’s all about that inconvenience. I know there are more persistent cravings that will induce a late-night junk food run, but for the most part, this really works.
NEVER go grocery shopping while hungry!
Big mistake. Huge. EVERYTHING looks good when shopping on an empty stomach. I’ve made many an impulse “what were you thinking?” purchase by going to the store hungry. Save yourself from yourself. I’ve even enlisted my husband’s help in my whole “follow the list” plan, and when I try to stray, he does a fair job of reminding me of my own words. Other times, I think he came to the store hungry, too.
I love cookies, and make some of the best I’ve ever had. In fact, they are often so good, I’ve been known for consuming seven in one day (not exactly a proud confession and trust me, my stomach did NOT agree with my rave review after the fact). I also feel that, if I’m going to indulge in a cookie, it’s going to be one that I know what went into it because it came from my own kitchen. These white chocolate macadamia nut cookies make Subway’s taste inferior.
My husband had the right idea all along: he’s always been an “only homemade, never store-bought cookie eater.”
To help with my limited restraint, whenever I bake goodies, I make sure to share them with my family and friends. They love and appreciate them, and there is just enough for me and my husband to enjoy without overdoing it.
Have dessert after dinner
What’s that? That’s how it’s supposed to be done? 😉 A lot of my sweet cravings occur when I am hungry, so to solve this problem, I tell myself I can have something sweet only after I eat dinner. Yes, mom. This works in several different ways for me. Sometimes, I’m too full to even want any dessert. Other times, my craving passes as my stomach fills. But then, there are those ever-so-exciting desserts that call for indulging even when you think there isn’t any room left. That’s when I still have it, but in a much smaller dose than if I had eaten before dinner.
Read nutrition facts
This can be scary at times. I used to read labels and say “Oh well, they’re good” or “I run enough – no big deal.” With all the research out there on heart disease and other health ailments, I don’t brush them off as quickly as I used to. I recently made homemade pumpkin cheesecake muffins and they were ridiculously delicious. Then I read the nutrition facts: 350 calories, 21 grams of fat, and 55 milligrams of cholesterol for one muffin. Whoah! It hardly seems worth it to eat more than one. That really helped with my restraint.
Don’t deprive yourself!
This is my best advice to anyone who is trying to eat better. When you deprive yourself, you open the door to binging on what you’ve been missing.
For me, one of the greater parts of living is food. It doesn’t have to be your best friend or coping tactic, and it certainly shouldn’t be your enemy. The key really is moderation. Satisfy your needs without overdoing it. I know I feel better when I don’t have a bunch of junk in my system, and have found that the longer I go without sugar, the less I want it. I have full intention of embarking on future sugar journeys, but they will be farther and farther between than they’ve been in the past.