Good food, bad food, temptations and willpower!

stock photo : Vintage cupcakes

Why is it that no matter how much we know, how much we understand about good food, bad food or about what it does to our bodies, it is just so easy to reach for the sweets, cakes or something equally calorific or carb laden?

It’s all very well putting all the advice out there and let’s be honest there is SOO much information out there already – books, DVDs, magazines, websites, blogs – but people in general do have a rough idea of what they should be doing – eat more of this or eat less of that – but what is it that stops you (or me) polishing off that packet of biscuits or not having the willpower to resist the packet of sweets left in the car?

stock photo : Extreme close-up image of chocolate chips cookiesIt seems to me that no matter how much we educate ourselves, how much we read, absorb or learn, at the end of the day it all comes down to what’s going on in our heads and our bodies. For everyone who is an emotional eater,  all it takes is a little stress, an argument, a tough day and its much harder to resist the lure of the sweets, chocolate, biscuits or just carbs in general and no matter how much we try, most women struggle with balancing their diet at varying points in the month. So does that mean that we should all give up completely and that we are held hostage to our hormones or our emotions?

Not at all but lets face it, its never going to be easy!  If you grew up with parents whose idea of food was to give you a treat every time you felt sad, or fell over or, when something bad happened it was time for cake, then you will have spent most of your life viewing treats as the kind of comfort blanket you get when life throws you a curve ball.  So, you start a diet and are doing well but then life throws in something unforeseen and you instinctively reach for whatever is your chosen weapon (for me it was always biscuits, for others its chocolate, or cake or ice cream) and before you know it you have eaten a whole packet/bar/box etc and are hating yourself for falling off the wagon big-time!stock photo : Ice cream ball

It happens to everyone who has struggled with their weight at some point in their journey and the key is to

  • Understand your trigger – what set you off, why did you feel you needed to eat that
  • Understand that just because you had a bad day today (or even a bad week) it doesn’t mean that its over. Put what happened in the past and start over with a renewed determination to overcome it.

If you can understand WHAT makes you feel bad, angry, sad or whatever the emotion is then you are half way to managing how you react to it; life is never going to be simple and our loved ones or work colleagues will always drive us mad at some point so next time you feel the emotions surfacing again, walk away.  Get some fresh air, go for a walk, go the gym, clean the house, mow the lawn – use anything as a distraction and you have the added advantage that it will (a) calm you down and (b) provide you with a little extra exercise!

Probably the most important thing you can do once you have already eaten the cake/biscuits/sweets etc is to NOT BEAT YOURSELF stock photo : An assortment of colorful candy on full frame background with jellybeans, gumdrops and other jelly candiesUP! It happened, it was a moment of weakness, a reaction to events but it doesn’t define who you are or where you are on your healthy lifestyle journey. Understand what happened, learn from it (…must make sure we don’t have those in the house again…. will ask the children to take the sweets out of the car….will walk or drive home a different route) and move on. Start things again the next meal, the next day or even, the next week; as long as you get back to healthy eating again and understand what and why it really is no big deal.  If it’s happening every day or every week then you need to ask yourself how committed you are; are you actually getting enough nutrients in your diet and try to refocus your plans and goals.

Hormonal eating is different; part of it is habit, we get used to eating certain things (carbs or chocolate etc) at certain times of the stock photo : delicious chocolate pralinesmonth and part of it is our bodies asking for more energy. And we do what we always do and feed it the easiest thing to hand, the thing that taste good and is connected on an emotional level – crisps, chocolate, sweets, cake etc. BUT, if we ate properly, healthily, clean and lean and learnt to ignore the voice that says “I have PMT therefore I must have chocolate” we would actually find that it’s a really good fat burning time of the month.

So, in short, the temptation is always there and for those of us who have children there is ALWAYS something tasty and bad for us to hand, the trick is to  learn to manage the temptations in a way that works for you and, for me that is to work on the 80/20 rule – as long as I eat really well at least 80% of the time I really am not going to fret over the remaining 20%!


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