You know that moment when you buy a box of chocolates for the time when somebody comes over for tea. You put it away on the top shelf so that you can’t just effortlessly reach for it. You sit down satisfied with your willpower. Life is great. You are great. And then the evening comes and you feel lonely or bored, or simply not satisfied after dinner and you crave for something sweet. Just a tiny bite. And it so happens that you have a box of chocolates sitting there on the shelf without purpose. You’re not even sure that somebody is coming over any time soon, because your family lives far away and all of your friends are busy at work. You start to reason with yourself. I’ll only have one piece, you say and reach for that box. Next thing you remember is that the box is half empty and soon enough it is gone.
Sounds familiar? It does to me. That has been me on many occasions. And after a while I started wondering – how can I avoid such situations? To avoid them, all we need is a little plan of actions. Read on to find out.
Tip no. 1 – Don’t buy sweets
Just don’t. Make a list of things you need to buy before going shopping and take every effort to stick to that list. Avoid the sweets aisle completely if that is possible. Most supermarkets have these aisles with cookies, chocolate, crisps and soda at the back of the store. Don’t go there to avoid temptation to buy them. You know: out of sight, out of mind.
Tip no. 2 – Don’t keep sweets at home
Out of sight, out of mind – again. You don’t need to keep sweet and unhealthy stuff at home ‘just in case’. If you do, that case will happen sooner rather than later.
Tip no. 3 – Buy sweets only for the occasion that is about to happen
If you know for sure you are expecting guests and you want to have a treat for them, then and only then go and buy it. People rarely call in without notice these days, so you are unlikely to be unprepared. And in the case you are, there’s nothing wrong with serving fruit on a plate.
Tip no. 4 – Don’t buy a mountain
When buying desserts for expected company, don’t buy a lot. I doubt they will eat a big cake or three boxes of cookies. Choose a small cake instead of a big one, or buy cupcakes for the number of people expected. Buy a medium box of chocolates. It might seem wiser to have a lot so there’s definitely enough for everyone, but be honest: how many times did you leave somebody’s place feeling that your overindulged because of the abundance of treats served? I bet many. Nobody likes to be stuffed to half-death with cake or chocolate. So plan ahead and buy just as much as you need to avoid having leftovers to tempt you.
I found helpful to not buy and store certain things in my house. Condensed milk was one of them. Or cake. Because that’s me – if I have a can of condensed milk I will eat the entire can in one go. And I will be eating cake for every meal until it’s gone. Having the willpower to lead a healthier lifestyle is not about setting the traps around and taking every effort to avoid them. Having the willpower is about making a conscious choice to avoid these traps in the first place.
Now, I don’t recommend staying away from all things tasty completely. If you are just starting your weight loss journey, it makes sense to keep your diet as clean as possible until you break your bad habits (usually takes about 1 to 3 months), and then you can start having your weekly or fortnightly cheat meals. If you are just looking for ways to make your diet healthier, you might not need to wait 1 to 3 months before introducing cheat meals.
Cheat meal – is a treat that you allow yourself to eat once in a while and then return to your healthy eating habits, like that never happened. Cheat meals or treats are a part of a healthy diet. They help keeping you sane and prevent you from feeling deprived. Nutritionists and dieticians highly encourage having cheat meals to avoid a complete slip up. It is important though not to view a cheat meal as reward for your efforts to eat a healthy diet. Rewards should not be related to food. Viewing your sweet treat as a reward may mess up your feelings toward your new lifestyle and form new bad habits.
But since we are talking cheat meals, there’s another mini-guide on How to avoid temptation when having a cheat meal on your cheat day:
Tip no. 1 – Go to a café for a sweet treat
I find that if I don’t bring sweets home, then I don’t need them so much when I am at home. For this purpose, go and eat out. It is helpful because you won’t have leftovers sitting in your house and saying ‘Eat me!’. It is also this way to stop before you’ve eaten a lot. When you eat in a café you are unlikely to eat 5 pieces of cake in one sitting, but you can easily do it when you bring a cake home.
Tip no. 2 – Buy only things that come in small single serving
A cupcake, or a muffin, or a piece of cake. A brownie. An ice-cream in a cone. This is why eating out is a better option.
Tip no. 3 – Avoid pre-packaged products
That is if you choose to buy your treat in a shop and bring it home. Pre-packaged foods come in big sizes and multiple servings, like a whole cake or a box of cupcakes or brownies. Stick with freshly baked goods that you can buy only in one piece. They taste much better anyway and have less preservatives.
Tip no. 4 – Share the love
If you buy something comes in a bigger size, like a chocolate bark, a box of chocolates or a cake, don’t forget to share it with a friend or a colleague. You’ll be thanking yourself that you did.