If I could wave my magic fitness wand and sprinkle my make-believe diet dust and change one of your behaviors this weekend, by, say, having you eat only when you are seated at a table, this would have far reaching benefits beyond the beach.
Sitting down at a table to eat puts an end to much of the mindless munching that makes picnics notorious for overeating.
This is because a circuit panel in your brain has buttons that stimulate "feel good" feelings and the more we push them (through eating fat, sugar and salt) the more we want to push them. I could go into more detail, but that pretty much sums it all up.
When we push buttons in circuit panels, whether it is mental buttons or buttons on the breaker panel in your basement, it is always a good idea to be aware that you are actually pushing them.
Can you remember the last time you blew a circuit in your house and how you reset it? Did you go down and start randomly pushing buttons? Probably not.
So sitting down, rather than standing next to the nine layer nacho dip is a good way to command more conscious control of what goes into your mouth. In the trickle-down theory, this affects what ends up on your tush.
It is such a struggle already to control what we eat. It would be so easy to blame the food industry (or your mom for being such a great Italian cook) because grocery stores, not to mention food manufacturers, do everything imaginable to make foods look, taste, smell and feel melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It occurred to me the other day that there is an inverse relationship between how good a food looks and tastes and how healthy it is for you. The worse it is for you, the harder stores, restaurants and food companies try to make it irresistible.
With such a sensory overload, how do we stop overeating?
We have to have a plan. In technical terms it is called a countermanding action. Especially for risky eating situations like Memorial Day picnics, parties, visiting your mother or being home alone with half of a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, you have to plan in advance how you will deal with yourself so that you don't wake up Monday morning with that familiar sense of self-loathing and bloat.
-- Start by standing away from the food table.
-- Have a healthy snack before.
-- Drink two glasses of water before you have anything else to drink.
-- Sit down to eat.
-- Chew each bite 20 to 30 times.
-- Do all the talking while everyone else eats.
-- Throw out what is on your plate that you don't want to eat immediately.
-- Don't drink more than two alcoholic drinks and know exactly what non-alcoholic drink you will switch to. (Don't just plan to do these things in your mind.)
-- Tell your spouse or whoever you are going to the picnic with your plan. Out loud. So they hear you. Ask them to kindly remind you of your goals.
These tips all bore me to tears from hearing myself say them over and over but there's a reason I keep saying them over and over. They work. But you have to actually implement them. Imagine waking up Monday morning feeling like jumping on the scales and looking forward to seeing what you weigh. Now that's an idea worth memorializing.