Saturday, November 20, 2010

Navigating food around the holidays

I am not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. (Just ask my husband and children!) But I have been refined by my weaknesses. As I have struggled around food for basically my whole life, I have been motivated to find solutions. When people look at me, they can't believe I can resist the sugar and all the tasty treats. Some think that perhaps I have never been plagued by them and it must be easy for me. Well, exactly the opposite! I have been sooooo plagued by them in the past, that my only option for personal growth and happiness has been to try and figure out how to overcome the urge to eat them! So now that we've established that I am a very real person, with very real weaknesses, I hope I can write the rest of this post with more credibility :-) I hope I can be an inspiration because I've been where you're at. I've lived it and I've struggled with it and I've gained some experience and knowledge that I hope I can share with you to help you in your struggles.

One of the key principles I've learned to help with overeating and/or the temptation to eat too many empty calorie foods is called "crowding out". The key is to focus on adding in good things instead of trying so hard to resist and fight against the bad things. Does that make sense? Instead of trying so hard NOT to eat everything you feel that you shouldn't eat, try preparing some healthier dishes and eat those things first. You will notice that, even if you do give in to the urge to eat junk, that you will not feel so drawn to it and you will eat much less of it as a result.

For example, the other day before my husband went to a place where they would be serving donuts for breakfast, he drank a huge glass of whey protein shake blended with some almond milk and blueberries. He would have normally been tempted to eat the donuts, but he said he was so satisfied from what he drank that he had no desire for the donuts. See, most of us crave and just "can't resist" those things when they show up. We have to change our behaviors and habits to make real lasting changes so that we are not just acting in the moment. Ultimately, if we want the donuts and we are hungry and right there with them and we tell ourselves we can't have them, it will be a fight. Even if we don't eat them, it will be a fight. I got tired of those days of fighting. And finally I learned the principle of "crowding out" and started to focus on adding the good things to my diet instead of focusing on fighting against the bad things. That is when things started to turn around for me.

I challenge you this holiday season to try this shift in perspective. Make some plans to have some healthy foods around that you like. Find some new recipes that sound good to you that are healthy. Or just try something like putting out walnuts or almonds in a bowl instead of something else crunchy. Execute those plans. Make the recipes, eat those foods first. And then if you want something else, eat that too. But notice how it isn't going to "call" to you as it has in the past if you have first filled your body with good, wholesome food.

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