If you read my first January sharepost on setting goals, then you have decided to create a set of goals that will help you to achieve long-term lifestyle changes. My recommendation for the first goal is to “clean home” and set up an environment that supports a healthy and, if appropriate, calorie-driven eating program. Achieving that goal requires the following strategies:
Removal of temptations
You will not outsmart cravings if there is tempting food in your refrigerator and pantry, and you will not withstand temptations. You can however, become more in control of cravings and emotional hunger, if ready access to treats, tempting foods and trigger foods, is removed from your home. You will then be forced to deal with emotional hunger without feeding yourself unhealthy or high calorie refined treats and foods, or at minimum, turn to healthier food choices – a first step in healthier eating and weight loss.
Use a food filing system
You use a filing system at work to stay on top of your daily assignments, so doesn't it make sense to do the same with food? Designate specific areas or sectors in your pantry and refrigerator for “food groups:” dairy, proteins, fruit, vegetables, healthy grains (includes breads, pasta, rice, cereals), beans/nuts/seeds, healthy fats like corn oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado and your water stash. Easy visualization of these different food groups, categorized separately, means quicker and healthier food decisions and quicker food prep. It will also help you to sense portions and disappearing ingredients, so you are more organized with food consumption and food purchases.
This approach to storing foods allows you to feel more in control, which is crucial to the process of weight loss and better health. Just “winging it” means you grab and eat, without regard for quality of food, portion control, and even food choices. Just winging it is typically how we deal with cravings. Taking the time to organize translates to better success with an eating program and with health goals. And, it will also help you to save money and reduce waste.
Making "a list" is key to success
Keep a list that you can add to daily so you are aware of foods and ingredients that are popular in the household, and/or running low. This will help you to stay on track when shopping for food, and to be less of an impulse shopper. The filing system, plus a list, will keep you in the healthier aisles, which tend to be on the periphery of the supermarket. If you plan menus for the week, you can also write “multiples of food” on the list, so you know how many 4 ounce or 5 ounce portions of skinless chicken breast you need, how many cans of tuna packed in water, how many eggs, how many Greek yogurts, how many bananas or apples, are necessary to fill breakfast, lunch and dinner orders for the week. Do it as a daily ongoing habit, and list making, menu planning and shopping with a more focused attitude, will become second nature.
You can also figure out how many treat purchases are appropriate. Maybe it’s one box of 100 calorie cookie packs, maybe it’s some individual sized low-fat ice cream cups, maybe it’s a small bar of dark chocolate that you break into a few servings, or maybe it’s a pizza you bring in for your one personal or family splurge of the week. Understanding how often you should have a treat, the appropriate portion size of that treat, and limiting yourself to only bringing in that specific amount will mean that you are less likely to binge or lose control when emotions get the best of you. And for people who hate keeping food journals, the filing system and list will give you a way of tracking your eating.
Next goal: Understanding superstar food choices and portion sizes for you
Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience. Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts. Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch? Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at www.healthgal.com.
Published On: January 06, 2014