With New Years upon us, many people have made diet and exercise resolutions. Sadly, studies show that most of these won’t last one week! Registered Dietitian and SCW Fitness Education presenter Dominique Adair, MS, RD says, “most good intentions are no match for cravings and impulse eating. Unfortunately, once people eat one cookie, they think they’ve blown it and they’ll start their diet again…tomorrow. Here are some tips to help you avoid impulse eating, and if it does happen, how to MOVE ON!
Everyone has cravings for certain foods. Most of us know which foods we eat on impulse. Indulging occasionally in a dish of ice cream or piece of cake is part of enjoying life.
But plan for your treats. Decide in advance that you’re going to have one or two treats per week and then enjoy them.
Overly restrictive diets are recipes for failure. Diets that eliminate foods groups don’t provide enough variety or energy. Think of your healthy eating and weight achievement program as being a lifelong adventure, not a short term solution.
Keep a food diary and write down how you feel when you’re impulse eating – if your stressed, bored or anxious, you need to work on other coping skills to help you through these times.
Write down a list of things to do other than eat. These can be hobbies (crafts, painting, gardening), physical activity (a home exercise session or walk), or even yoga or meditation.
Eliminate food cues that cause impulse eating. This is called “stimulus control.” Don’t forget, if you don’t buy it, it won’t be there for you to eat.
Use a hunger scale from 1-10. “1” is VERY hungry, “10” is VERY STUFFED, and “five” is CONTENT. When you feel the cookies call, ask yourself, where am I on the hunger scale? If you’re a “one,” “two,” or “three,” then you need to find a healthy meal or snack. If you’re a “six,” “seven” or “eight,” then you need to find something else to do other than eat.
Find sources of support like family, friends, personal trainers, even a nutritionist to help you manage these food cues and stay on track.
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Set and write down your goals. Make sure they are realistic and achievable. Many New Years resolutions are too ambitious and you’re doomed to fail before you’ve begun. I your list is realistic, sometimes just reviewing this list during the times when cravings hit is enough to bring you back on track.
Forgive yourself. If you do give in to a craving, move on from the event quickly and get back on track. You will not gain weight because of one cookie, but you will if you tell yourself you blew it, and continue to eat foods that don’t support your goals.