Let’s face it – at times we are tempted for no reason to eat or drink something which we know is not a good choice.
Giving in to temptation is fine very occasionally and you know it may lead to a weight loss plateau or even some weight regain. It may take you a few days to get back on track.
If you really think about it, often it happens when you’re either tired or stressed.
Getting distracted and falling back into unhealthy habits will hold you back from reaching your best weight and health. Stress, thirst, and boredom can all be mistaken as hunger.
What pathway are you likely to choose?
- Give into the temptation and end up having feelings of anger or weakness, unhappiness with yourself or bloated and uncomfortable – or all the above!
- Resist temptation and feel you’ve had a win – just don’t succumb later.
The best pathway is to develop a strategy, or a series of strategies to get you through any distractions. Being distracted can also cause you to eat more, especially foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. The worst foods are baked goods (biscuits, muffins, cakes, pizzas and donuts) as these are low in protein and high in processed grains, sugar and fats.
Let’s look at some common distractions and then give you some strategies to help deal with them when these distractions arise.
Stay away from the thrill of a cheap dopamine hit
Don’t succumb to cheap sources of dopamine like junk food, video games, social media scrolling, Tik Tok, drugs or alcohol. You may just find you’ve eaten an entire bag of chips or cookies because your mind was elsewhere!!!
To harness productive dopamine, you need to focus on doing something that helps you move closer to your goal(s). This may include spending time in the kitchen trying new recipes, listening to podcasts about health and wellbeing, joining an exercise class or walking group or taking up a new hobby. As you make progress this helps make staying on-plan with eating and exercise so much easier. Learning about how your body responds to different foods and drinks provides your mind with curiosity which also sparks productive dopamine.
Feeling tired and not moving enough
Many people complain of always feeling tired and most people today have sedentary lifestyles. We are surrounded by labour-saving devices.
Movement creates the key to better health, improves mental clarity and creates energy. The best thing you can do is to get moving. Walking around the block, to the shops, up stairs instead of catching the lift are all a great start. Setting a timer for every hour you’re sitting and do 2 minutes of any exercise when the timer goes off is also easy to do. If you watch free-to-air TV, always walk around when the ads play.
Are you focused and goal-orientated?
Having a goal to work towards will keep you focused. Regular daily reflection and written goals that you read aloud several times a day keeps your mind focused.
Multi-tasking can be a major distraction!
Breakfast in the car? Lunch at your desk? Dinner in front of the TV?
If you multitask while you eat, you often eat too fast, eat too much and have trouble remembering what you consume or how it tastes. Paying attention to what you’re eating is linked to eating less so make the eating process more mindful, slower and more enjoyable.
Other distractions to be aware of include:
- Change of environment may increase or reduce appetite
- Eat when you’re hungry – not to the clock
- You may be confusing thirst with hunger
- Smorgasbords and buffets are a No! No!
- No need for kids snacks “treats” in the house
- Stay away from the smell of freshly baked bread and cake shops
- Chocolate and sweets aisle in the supermarket
- Friends who kindly gift sweets or chocolates
- Eating too much too quickly (set a 20 minute timer for a meal)
- Our brain (thoughts) can be our biggest obstacle. Be mindful.
- Opening the fridge or pantry without thinking
Most cravings only last for about half an hour so having diversion strategies in place may be helpful. Why not try some of these?
- Turn on loud music and dance.
- Go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Exercising in daylight boosts energy levels and mood.
- Take a few deep breaths, breathing deeply into your diaphragm and exhaling slowly.
- Take 2 minutes and do some physical activity, push-ups, sit-ups, climbing stairs.
- Find a peaceful place for a coffee or tea or a catchup with a friend.
- Have a glass of water which will fill up your tummy. It’s not unusual to confuse hunger with thirst.
- Take up sudoku, singing, a new language – find something that challenges your mind.
- Ensure your fridge is full of protein foods: cold meats, cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, tomatoes.
- Ensure your pantry is full of low-carb snack foods: protein powder or bars, nuts, seeds and small cans of fish.
- Have kids or grandkids? – grab a ball and toss around, teach them a new game, play hide-and-seek, do a jigsaw puzzle or read their favourite book.
- If you are currently reading a book – read 5 pages. If not, find a book that you have always wanted to read or re-read!!! Listen to the book on Audible whilst walking.
- Start a journal and write 3 things you are grateful for today and 3 things you would like to achieve. That will help you refocus. Call one old friend or relative every week.
- What chores need to be done around the home or office? Fold laundry, vacuum the floor, clean your desk or wash up dirty dishes in the sink!!
- Read your Vision Statement aloud to reinforce where you want to be, by when and how you want to feel and look.
- Take an Epsom salts bath.
- Try using your non-dominant hand or chopsticks to eat your meal.
When temptation and distractions occur, you now have a list of strategies to implement. Congratulate yourself as small steps lead to BIG results.
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