I am a huge believer of moderation when it comes to healthy eating. You won’t find me on a diet that forbids certain foods forever and ever until the end of time. It just wouldn’t work for me. I’d eventually be found huddled on the bathroom floor happily hugging a whole container of ice cream or stock pot full of pasta. I instead attempt to eat whole foods (the fewer ingredients the better), consume a sweet treat once a week, and allow my splurges to be just that…a splurge. I don’t repent for a month after eating said splurge. I eat it, enjoy, and then get back on track.
I go about my plan happily for the majority of the year. Then something happens. Thanksgiving waddles its way in, quickly followed by a month of Christmas and topped off with a boozy New Year’s Eve. Two days after this bombardment, suddenly every fitness company emerges from their holiday slumber and expects me to happily slide into my spandex and sports bra and jump onto a Peloton. I must have been created without this mystical on/off switch that’s supposed to snap me out of the indulgence coma.
While I honestly can say that I typically enjoy eating healthy, I acknowledge that it’s a habit that takes time to evolve and can all too quickly be derailed. My biggest battle is with sugar. I can turn it down all day when I’m grocery shopping. The problem comes when it weasles its way into my kitchen usually in the form of wonderful, thoughtful, welcomed gifts around the holidays. My once a week treat suddenly reorganizes into a once (or twice) a day indulgence. What’s happened to me?? Suddenly I CRAVE the sugar and my normal will power and tricks to curb cravings are ineffective. As it turns out, it’s not all my fault.
Studies have been done in relation to the idea of “food addiction” and sugar in particular (read more here). It turns out that sugar can indeed be addictive and those cravings are not just in my head. I went through this about ten years ago when I gave up soft drinks. During and after college, I used to drink about one Mountain Dew per day which is still slight in comparison to true dedicated soda drinkers. When my healthy journey began, cokes (which is Southern talk for all varieties of soda) were the first to go. Now, I don’t even like the taste and never crave them. Once you get over the withdrawal, your body isn’t interested. I have the exact same problem when I eat more sweets than normal.
So what’s a well-intended gal to do when it’s time to start the new year and get back into the normal lifestyle routine? The first thing is to purge the house of all temptation. Stale baked goods get tossed in the trash and all candies get put in the freezer. Next, I make sure I have my arsenal at the ready. Read my post here about go-tos to get me through sweet cravings. Then, I just take it a day at a time. I know this sounds incredibly dramatic, but almost everyone can relate on some level. You have to give yourself a pat on the back for each day, moment, instant when you win over the craving. You can then actually enjoy your one treat per week and truly plan what you’d like to have. It makes you thoughtful about your food which is always a good tip no matter what your diet journey.
Best wishes to everyone on their resolutions! I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for fighting through a sugary or salty food craving.