Weighing In: How do I stop my favorite foods from creating a dieting disaster?

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • Question: I really like potato chips and like to treat myself to some once in a while. The problem is once I start eating them I can’t stop and then I end up eating lots of junk food for days after. How can I stop myself from eating too many potato chips when I start and preventing it from throwing my whole diet off track for days?

    Heather: It sounds like potato chips may be a trigger food for you. These are foods that send us into a dieting downward spiral with the first bite. Most people have trigger foods and, unfortunately, they are often our favorite foods. I usually recommend avoiding these foods altogether. However, since they are usually favorite foods or comfort foods people resistant to completely banning them.
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    Let’s address each issue separately. Many people struggle when it comes to eating only one serving of their favorite foods. I call this bottom of the bag syndrome; we can’t rest until we know the food is gone. Eating straight out of the bag is a dangerous rope to toe because it’s hard to stop until you hit the bottom of the bag. Some people find it helpful to divide the large bag up into smaller servings in zip lock bags because you hit the bottom of the bag after one serving. However, if having more potato chips in the cabinet is too hard to resist, consider buying a single serving bag.

    The second issue is more complicated. If eating potato chips leads to a dieting hiatus, you need to figure out why. Are you an all or nothing person? If you aren’t being perfect, do you feel like you might as well be really bad? If so, you’re going to need to change your mindset. I realize this is easier said than done. But the truth is that all foods, in moderation, can fit into a healthy diet. Once you truly accept this, you may be able to enjoy potato chips in moderation too.

    Positive self-talk can be an effective strategy for changing behaviors. When you eat potato chips, talk your way through it by reminding yourself that you can eat just one serving. When you feel the urge to continue eating, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Employ other strategies to overcome overeating like drinking a glass of water when you get the urge to eat, if you aren’t hungry the craving should pass. If all of these fail, consider banning the potato chips from your house, sometimes that is the only effective strategy.
Published On: December 29, 2007

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