We've all been there!
We go for days, weeks, even months! We do so well on our meal plans and have great results because of it. Then, we go to a social event, we have a stressful week, and the next thing you know we're pigging out on "old faithful". That treat that was always there when you wanted it the most. Why did it happen?? Everything was going so well!! You hadn't eaten (insert delicious food / drink here) in so long! Maybe that's the reason you ate it! Maybe you felt deprived!
Me? I'm a real sweet tooth. I grew up eating plenty of top notch kiwi ice cream from cows fed on lush green New Zealand grass. I still a sucker for a delicious ice cream but recently I've noticed the havoc it plays on my digestion. That photo above is a kiwi classic, "Goody Gum Drops". Lollies in ice cream - every kiwi kid's dream!
It was a sad day when I realised that the dairy and/or sugar in ice cream was giving me stomach pains. Alas, I was going to have to give it up! It took some time, but knowing how much discomfort it was going to give me if I ate it, helped me not to eat it. Now, it's reserved for special occasions.
That's one really good tip for helping you to stay on track with your food and drink. If you have a treat, see how it makes you feel. Do you get discomfort in your stomach (bloating, pains, cramps etc)? Do you find that your energy crashes after you eat it? Do you find that your brain gets foggy and you can't think straight? All of these things will help you to realise the negative effects of the food you eat, and will help you to steer clear of them.
What do you miss?
For me, one big thing that I miss about some of the foods I used to eat, is not always the flavours, but the textures too! For example, I LOVE chocolate (see, I'm a sweet tooth!). I love the flavour, and I love the crunch as I take a bite. If I'm having chocolate with nuts in it, I enjoy the "different crunch" and the more savoury flavour that the nuts provide. If I'm having a soft caramel chocolate, I love the crunch of the chocolate and then the soft feeling of the caramel.
Identifying why you enjoy something is a huge part of giving it up. It seems odd to give up something you enjoy, but let's face it, not everything that we love, loves us back, right? In identifying what we enjoy, we are then able to broaden our horizons, and try to find something similar, more healthy, but still provides us with the things we enjoy.
So, with that knowledge, I have decided to treat myself to a small portion of dark chocolate, two times per week. With each 100g pack of this chocolate (pictured above), I can get 5 treats. How awesome is that! I don't know if I'll ever go to 85% dark chocolate, but so far 70% is just right.
It still tastes like chocolate (just less sweet), and I get that nice crunch that I miss when I don't eat chocolate. If I want to replicate having different textures with the chocolate, then I can grab some chocolate covered almonds, chocolate covered raisins or cranberries, or find a nice trail mix with some extra dried fruits and nuts to really mix things up!
I know I mentioned it before, but making sure you have a small portion is so super important! When it comes to my dark chocolate treat, I know that the official serving size is seven small squares (it sounds like a lot but they're quite thin). But - if I only have 6 squares, that makes the whole block last longer! I'm still giving myself a generous treat, I'm exercising myself control and helping it to get stronger without allowing myself to completely blow out. If I want more than my allocated portion, it really isn't that long until I can have my next treat.
I have found that I do really well with written notes or "instructions" to myself. I have been known to write messages and leave them taped all through our cupboards...
There's no shame in acknowledging that you find something delicious. Knowing what is going to serve you well makes all the difference. With my chocolate treats (as seen above), I have already worked out my portion sizes, and having them in snap-lock bags with my treat days written on them helps me stay on track. I'm only having that much, and only on those days. This trick may not work for everyone, but it's definitely worth trying to see what works for you. And if someone looks in your cupboard and sees your notes written to yourself or your pre-portioned treats and teases you about it, you don't have to justify your actions to them because sooner or later, you'll be happy and healthy, while they still struggle. If only they took a leaf out of your book instead of teasing you...
ye olde cheat meal
A cheat meal is a GREAT way to keep on track! That may not make any sense at all, but trust me, it works! If we're all about avoiding that deprived feeling, then allowing ourselves one cheat meal per week, fortnight, or month is a great way to combat that.
I'm currently having one cheat meal per week. Lately, it's been a nice piece of grilled fish with some hot chips, and maybe a nice cookie. I get to enjoy the taste of fish and chips, but I also remember how heavy in the stomach the chips make me feel after I eat them! Other times, I might have a few slices of pizza (homemade or store bought), or a yummy bowl of spaghetti. Maybe I'll stick with my meal plan and my "cheat" part of the meal can be a small dessert. When I have my cheat meal, I make sure I don't get carried away by the taste of it and over eat. I eat it, enjoy it, and stop when my body tells me I'm full. That way, I minimise any discomfort that might follow after the meal.
A cheat meal doesn't (nay, shouldn't) be an excuse to gorge yourself and give yourself indigestion and stomach cramps for days. You're in control, and if you don't actually feel like having your scheduled cheat meal, don't!
Remember - making progress is never going to be easy. We are all in the same boat when it comes to giving unhealthy things up. Be patient, be kind and compassionate on yourself and remember that if you make a mistake, your next opportunity is your next meal! You can do it!