I am sure this will resonate with everyone who struggles with their weight… it is not the starting the good habits that is hard. It is sticking to them.
So here we go, every Monday/January/whenever you get on the scales and don’t like what you see, you’ll think:
“Right that’s it, I am literally not drinking, or eating any kind of crap anymore – like honestly, literally no cheese, sugar, bread. Everything has to go. I need to get on a good track. Veggies all the way! Maybe I’ll go vegan? That’s the thing at the moment right? Or Paleo. I do like meat. Well one of the two. I need to sort this out pronto.”
And of course, day one, two, three and four go really well!
Restriction is king! You are excited to jump on the scales!
A few pounds drop… and then the boredom sets in.
Avocado, tuna and eggs… again.
Green spiriluna soup… again.
Now aside from the fact that if the lack of variety outlined above is a huge problem, you definitely just need to shake up your meal choices, BUT what you really really want, is something exciting.
The problem is we are fighting a losing battle – we are instinctually designed, and also trained like Pavlov and his dogs – to crave the golden triangle of sugar, salt and fat.
In fact, I would even say a square – throw booze in there too. The golden square of things to throw you off track, the cheeky (tasty) scamps.
It is even worse if you’re feeling stressed. Your body is full of the nasty stress hormone cortisol, and so it is after a “hit” of something happy like dopamine to sort things out, or a shot of ethanol (alcohol) to numb it.
That mad haze you go into when you raided the biscuit tin/drank the wine? It’s driven by your bodies need to get a hit. And YES in an ideal world, you can get a much healthier, happier high from ten minutes of meditation, a bath, a chat with your bestie, or a massage off your other half. But sometimes you are still craving that HIT. (I know I am making us sound like junkies, but I bet you can relate to this, and they don’t call it ‘hangry’ for nothing).
So what I propose instead of scratching that itch, is a happy middle ground, which I call “Allowable Betrayal”.
Because you’ve committed to this healthy track, you don’t want to ruin or betray the oath you’ve taken to improving yourself. (Or you tend to want to ruin it good and proper – which brings you into binge territory, which we dearly want to avoid).
So, the solution. Allowable betrayal.
What you need to work out is a list (love a list) of things/foods that are a wee bit naughty/exciting, but that are still within the realms of healthiness. You feel like you’re having something satisfying so you get that hit you need, but you’re not totally destroying all your hard work.
So if that lunch salad seems depressing, and you love hummous. Then for god’s sake pop a dollop of hummous on it, and be done with it. Savour it, enjoy it, but don’t turn it into the norm.
If you’re trying not to booze, then make your evening drink into an ‘occasion’. I get slimline tonic, ice, a fancy glass, lime, some garnish – I almost don’t miss the gin (almost).
I eat a lot of eggs, and boiled eggs are such a good snack, plus they’re really useful if you’re fasting/trying to eat less in the evenings. But the idea of getting excited about a boiled egg… well it is just a non-starter. I also LOVE mayonnaise, and if you’ve made it from scratch you’ll realise how full of oil it is. (It put my little sister off for a long long time).
But a boiled egg, with a tiny bit of mayo, mustard and paprika. Well that is something I can get on board with!
When only sugar will do, then choose very very wisely.
Savour a date, or pick up an OM Bar. Go for something low sugar – over 90% – remember 4.2 grams is a teaspoon. So just because it says raw or natural don’t be fooled. If you are London based, head to Wholefoods at lunchtime and GUARANTEED there will be samples of the latest delicious protein/seed bar. I pick at a few bits, thank-them (promising to buy them at a later date) and walk away with the mini-hit I needed!
I love fancy foods, I am not going to lie – so sometimes I will treat myself to some delightful scallops, or lobster – or if your budget won’t stretch that far – smoked salmon, squeeze of lemon with scrambled egg. HELLO – AMAZING AND GOOD FOR YOU!
Tumeric/lime/Chilli shots are another brilliant little boost. Or my favourite UGLY brand of ‘fizzy drinks’ – that contain no sugar, and no artificial sweeteners either! They’re flavoured by the zest or oil from the fruit. Delicious!
And for me (and half of you will find this gross, the other half will TOTALLY get it), I love marmite on toast so so much, which is a no no for my low-carb life. But just a wee dip in the pot with a spoon, savoured slowly, gives me the nostalgic blast I need, and even the after taste of toast.
Your brain is a powerful thing. You have the power within you to stop the cravings, you just have to find those things that work for you.
And my examples from my weird mind might sound like the worst foods imaginable to you – hey baby that’s what makes the world interesting – find what your allowable betrayal looks like, and where you can get it from.
Keep things fun and interesting, and then it becomes a lifestyle not a diet or fad.
What little bits of edible excitement get you through the tough days?