Many of us view weight loss and diet as a matter of willpower. We think, “If only I am strong enough and determined, if only I exercise self-control with my diet and exercise, I will be able to maintain a healthier lifestyle and weight.” Such thinking can be mighty self-limiting, however. It converts a positive decision- to be healthy- into another reason to feel guilty if willpower isn’t enough. For this reason, if you are my client, I advocate a different approach. Namely, I believe that willpower is a self-defeating concept when it comes to losing weight or maintaining weight loss. Instead, I counsel my patients to control their eating environments. By sustaining a “healthy” eating environment, you can also assist in improving your own health and weight. Such an environment means limiting the high calorie and fat foods in your home, so that you are not tempted to succumb to their temptation, which in turn makes willpower at home irrelevant.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on creating a healthy environment:
-Toss your leftover holiday goodies. If you have trouble pitching them, give them to a skinny friend or bring them to your office. A moment on your lips can result in months on your hips… as the saying goes. Evaluate if it is worth the momentary gratification.
-Be smart when you do your grocery shopping. Avoid putting high temptation foods in your cart in the first place. Self-control only needs to happen at the grocery store.
-While avoiding poor food choices, do stock up on lots of health enhancing foods at the grocery store. These healthy foods are your “tools” for successful weight loss. If you are concerned about fresh foods perishing, remember, frozen foods are just as nutrient dense as their fresh counterparts!
-If you must have some treat-like foods in the house, make sure they are not loaded with calories and fat. There are many desserts available that are pre-packaged and under 150 calories. These lower calorie treats can be great for curbing our sweet tooth.
-If others in your household just have to have certain high calorie treats in the house, tell them to make them unavailable to you.
-Lastly, keep undesirable foods off your counter, in hard to reach places, and out of your line of vision if they must be in your household. Make these food items hard work to get to.
While there are always other eating and dining obstacles to be faced while trying to lose weight and keep ourselves healthy, take a step in the right direction by reducing your reliance on willpower and making your home a healthy eating environment!