September 13, 2011

FREE Food is Not Really FREE – Don’t Sabotage Your Diet

Posted in Diet, Health, Healthy Eating, Healthy Habits, Healthy Living, Nutrition at 9:56 PM by lanaholt

FREE Food is Not Really FREE. It’s funny this topic has come up a lot in the last couple weeks, so I decided to dedicate a post to it. Is FREE food really FREE? Well, it’s usually not fat free, sugar free, calorie free, and so on. As I walked through Costco every aisle had FREE treats to try. A sample at each aisle would surely put me at about 500+ calories before I walked out the door. Besides calories I would also need to consider what is the quality of these extra calories I’m taking in? Are they whole foods, organic, low sodium, low sugar, hmm? Doubtful!

We are bombarded by free food every day. It’s another hurdle to maneuver when you are trying to clean up your diet. Let’s not forget that our diets are 80% of our weight loss or maintenance success. So, we need to be prepared to fight this battle.

If we are not being accosted by free samples in the store, it’s someone’s birthday at work and there’s free cake, it’s the holidays and the treats are piling up on the corner desk we pass every 10 minutes. It doesn’t stop!

Only we can take control of our appetites and mouth! Put the fork down as an acquaintance of mine would say. Ask yourself, “Is it really worth it?” Just because something is free doesn’t mean we start shoveling it in like we haven’t eaten in weeks.

There are a couple techniques you might want to use that friends have shared with me:

1. Do the math. A pound is 3500 calories. So in order to lose a pound a week you have to be at a 500 calorie deficit every  day. That’s either don’t eat it or burn it. To burn 500 calories, the average person would need to do 1 hour of intense cardio exercise. Is the cupcake worth it?

2. Exotic. Is it a treat that you will not be able to have again or for a really long time? If it’s a store bought brownie that you can get any time of the year, drop it. But if it’s Aunt Sadie’s super special apple fudge cream cake pie surprise, well, you might want to indulge if she only makes it once a year.

3. Teeny Tiny. If you are going to indulge, just take a taste or a few bites.  Take the smallest portion you possibly can to get the flavor and enjoy it. If there are lots of treats to try, go for 1 spoonful each. The calories add up and an office holiday party could end up being 3,000 calories without self control. If there is only 1 item to taste make it 1-3 bites. Honestly, after about 3 bites, our taste buds start to get dull to the flavor anyway. Then we are just noshing for nothing.

4. Prepare. Eat a healthful meal before you are in the situation where you will be tempted to indulge.  This does require you have the ability to say no. It can be hard when your grandma is looking at you with those, you better eat it or you are out of my will eyes. Joking or am I?

5. Avoidance. When you see the free samples in the store, avoid them. Take the long way, don’t look them in the eye. The little hyenas will leave you alone.  At the office birthday or whatever celebration show up late and leave early. Say your happy whatevers, have fun, chit chat and scoot out before you are tempted to eat the treats.

6. Play the Part. Sometimes there is peer pressure to indulge. If there is no way you can say no, act the part. This is going to seem crazy, but I’ve used this and it works. When someone offers you the treat and you cannot say no, accept only the smallest portion they can give you and don’t eat it. Pretend you did. Take the cake, mess it up a little so it looks like you took a bite or two, hold your fork like it just came out of your mouth and when you get a chance, throw it away. Yes, throw it away. You don’t need to sabotage your success for someone else’s feelings. They probably won’t notice you didn’t eat any of it anyway.  And don’t feel bad about throwing away food. Cake is not food! This may be my own personal opinion, but I’m the first in my household to throw the box of doughnuts out. I’ll go out of my way to preserve fruit, veggies, healthful foods. But, cookies, cakes, candy can hit the round file and I could care less. There is no nutritional value whatsoever and it’s just going to mess up my diet success.

So, there are a couple ideas. I’m sure there’s tons more and you won’t find success with all of them. Find one that works for you. But, at least think about it. Every bite counts. Let’s make those bites healthful fuel for our bodies.

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