I used to be 50 pounds heavier than I am now. That was 21 years ago and I have maintained this weight loss for all those years. During that time I have learned quite a few tricks that I share in my book Foodaholic, and I teach the patients at the obesity clinic at UCLA where I am on staff. I will share some of them here with you.
There are many things in life we can't control. If you have a weight issue, sometimes it may feel like you can't control how much or what you eat. You may feel like you're at the mercy of the food. I certainly did. We do know that the high-fat/high-salt/high-sugar foods can be addictive. They activate the same reward pathways in the brain as do drugs of abuse and can create a high, a craving for more and physical withdrawal when the food is removed. This can make changing our eating habits very difficult, but not impossible.
One of the things I've learned, and that I teach my clients, is to use environmental control. That is, I don't bring anything into my house that I might eat addictively. If I do bring something in, I do it in very small quantities so that even if I do eat it all, it's still OK. I can control what I have in my house. I do have a husband, a 15-year-old boy and a dog in my house, and they all eat, but we can work with that. My son eats anything and everything in his path. He is also health-conscious and doesn't appreciate it when I buy sweets for him, because even though he doesn't have a weight problem, he can't control himself and would rather not eat an entire bag of cookies. So he is happier, and healthier, if I keep our house "safe." My husband is naturally thin and has never had much of a sweet tooth or an issue with food.
So, I teach people not to focus on what they can't have, but on what they can. I like to "arm" myself with lots of healthy food options so I am ready when I get hungry, or have a craving. This takes work. The foods I keep around, cut up and ready to grab, are fruits and vegetables. I cut up jicama, carrots, mushrooms, celery, cantaloupe and watermelon. I keep little bowls of cherry tomatoes, berries and steamed asparagus in the fridge, ready to grab. These weapons of weight loss are all at eye-level in my fridge so I see them first when I open that door. It's a great tool. The produce guy at the market knows me because I ask him to teach me how to pick out the best fruits and veggies. You can get to know the farmers at your local farmer's market, or order a CSA box as well. You can even buy a lot of these foods already cut up and ready for you. That is more expensive though, and since I don't mind chopping, I like to do it myself.
When I'm at the market, face-to-face with that bag of Kettle Chips or Oreos, I like to play out the scene right then and there. I think about how I will feel when I put it in my car. What I will do with it when it gets home. As one of my clients said, "It's like buying tension." Do I really want to bring that into my house, or car for that matter, and have to resist it? The energy it takes to do so is not worth it. Then I add up all the calories in the entire package. That helps, too. Do I really want to bring this 2,000-calorie bag of cookies home just to try and control myself for however long it lives in my house?
So, that's today's tip. Keep your house "safe" and arm yourself well. Here is a quick video for you on how and why to do this.
Good luck and let me know how you're doing!
For more by Irene Rubaum Keller, click here.
For more on diet and nutrition, click here.
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