We have all been there before…Easter, Christmas, parties and holidays are often those times of the year when we are most likely to fall off the healthy eating wagon. This can often cause feelings of failure, guilt and frustration. I say treats have their own place in a healthy diet (and I do treat myself from time to time!), but if overindulging becomes a regular habit and results in unwanted consequences such as weight gain, increased levels of blood sugar, mood swings and so on, then it is time to take action. My motto is that prevention is better than cure so I have come up with my top 10 tips to curb excessive cravings or resist the temptation of overindulging too often:-
1. Nip it in the bud – Do not buy yourself any junk food: if you do not have it at home, you are not likely to nip out just to get something to pig on.
2. Out of sight, out of mind – If you find yourself in a situation where junk food is virtually impossible to avoid, such as colleagues bringing in treats (albeit with the best of intentions), the best way to protect your waistline is to try and block out the sight of these naughty treats as much as possible – temptation most of the time comes through the eyes!
3. Pause for a moment – Before you stuff your mouth with that tempting fat donut, and before you start drooling at the thought of its sweetness exploding in your mouth, ask yourself how you will feel afterwards. Is it a special treat you are having, or is it the 10th treat you are having today for goodness sake?!
4. Size and portion control – As I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with treats, or having favourite treats. However, before you reach for it, ask yourself if there is a smaller size or a healthier version available. For example, when I am in a cafe, I always ask for the skinny version of hot drinks or I do not have cream on top of any drinks.
5. Effort versus pleasure – This is where it makes sense to do a bit of Maths: pause for a minute and think how much effort it might take to work off the calories in that treat. Take a rich chocolate fudge cake as an example (think about the luxuriously thick slice you can get from Cafe Nero’s, oozing with chocolate…). A slice contains a “mere” 430 calories (which equals the number of calories in a proper meal). It takes me an hour to burn off this amount of calories in the gym by having a really hard core session on the treadmill at a pace of 10.5km/hours speed topped up with 20 minutes vigorous strength training. So I might share that cake slice with someone else 🙂 Maths can be a very convincing friend sometimes.
6. Delayed temptation – You know you want to… Or maybe not. Ask yourself if (a) you really want it, and if (b) that thing is what you want right now. Could a glass of flavoured herbal tea or a piece of sweet tasting fruit curb your cravings instead? And what can compare to the feeling when you are proud of yourself instead of feeling guilty?
7. Visualise -The mind is a powerful tool. Try to bring a bit of humour into the situation and imagine yourself looking like Miss Piggy from the Muppet Show, as a result of always giving in to temptation.
8. Let treats be true treats – For me a treat is something that is really special, something you do not have every day. I would rather opt for something that is more exclusive and is a rare indulgence, than something cheap and less special. For example, when it comes to ice cream, Ben and Jerry’s is THE king of ice creams. It is quite expensive so I only buy and eat it once in a blue moon, but oh boy, when I have it, it feels like being in Heaven on earth.
9. If all else fails, resort to some gym therapy – Although I have to say that if your workouts are becoming increasingly guilt fuelled, it may be a good time to take one hard look into yourself and figure out what is the true root of you overindulging too often. My advice would be to tackle the underlying cause because working out should really be about loving your body and not about punishing yourself!
10. Share the love -We all agree that there are times during the year when naughty treats are in greater abundance as a result of Christmas, Easter, party leftovers etc. So why not share these with a group of friends or colleagues? You will not only do your waistline a favour, but it is likely that people will appreciate your kindness. Unless of course they have read this article, too 😉