Particularly when just getting started improving our eating habits, there’s a lot of benefit to not being around foods that we find tempting. When we identify certain foods of which we can’t eat “just one”, or that consistently encourage us to overeat or otherwise act out of alignment with our health and fitness goals, there’s benefit to just straight up avoiding these foods. If we have a hard time eating just a cup of ice cream, we can choose not to keep any at home. If we’re triggered by doughnuts, we can choose to get our coffee from somewhere other than Dunkin’. If we struggle to moderate with trail mix, we can keep different snacks on hand. Strategies like these can be good short-term measures for building momentum and good long-term measures for managing patterns we struggle to break.
The thing is, despite our best efforts, we won’t be able to avoid our temptations forever. Permanent avoidance isn’t the goal anyway. Our goal isn’t to pretend these foods don’t exist. Our goal isn’t to quarantine ourselves from flavorful food. Our goal isn’t to white knuckle our way through life, trying desperately not to eat certain things. Our goal is to be empowered in these situations. Our goal is to understand why we’re drawn to these foods. Our goal is to break the power food has over us, and put ourselves in the driver’s seat when it comes to if and when we choose to indulge for no reason other than pleasure or flavor.
The fact of the matter is that these temptations aren’t going anywhere. We will always be presented with the opportunity to choose “now” over “later”. We’re not powerless, though. There are steps we can take to stop living in fear and avoidance and start living in confidence and control. The first step in this process is to identify which foods we find to be problematic. We can’t solve a problem if we don’t know what it is, so first we’ll want to pay attention to the foods that most often steer us away from our normal habits. Identifying these foods will not only help us plan ahead so far as knowing not to keep them around or buy them, but also put us in a position in which we aren’t caught off guard anymore when these foods elicit cravings.
Once we’ve identified the foods that repeatedly steer us from our goals, we can ask ourselves what it is about these foods that make them so challenging to turn away. What value do these foods provide? Is the problem as simple as “they taste good”? If so, this awareness may be enough for us to recognize that we’re prioritizing flavor over looking and feeling awesome, and stop engaging in the patterns that are holding us back.
We might find that simply acknowledging that hearing choirs of angels every time you eat isn’t as important as looking and feeling awesome. Perhaps this is enough to gain some traction with yourself?
Food for thought.