There it is, over on the table, that tray of home baked double chocolate gooey chewy brownie bars. You know what I’m talking about. Those are the same bars that show up the very day you declare you are getting back on your diet. It seems like a cruel joke from the universe, the ultimate test of temptation.
Let’s do a quick review of what is going on here. You’ve made a decision to commit to healthier choices, but being exposed to foods that you really enjoy, that are “super-tasty,” makes you question your willpower and dedication to the healthy lifestyle you want for yourself. Depending on the time of day, or the type of day you are having, this temptation is even harder to resist.
3 Things are Happening
First, you are reminded that you have given up or severely restricted your intake of “super-tasty” foods. This can make you feel deprived over time and you start to get the feeling that your life isn’t going to be fun any more. Quite often, these choices seem so special, because we have no alternative of our own. Think: Are red frosted grocery store cupcakes really worth compromising your decision to take care of your health?
Another thing that happens when you see “super-tasty” food, is that these foods literally have the ability to trigger an addiction response in the brain. This response can be very strong in some people. We KNOW how GOOD these foods taste and it makes us want to eat them despite any logical fight from our best intentions.
The third piece that comes into play in this scenario, is the at-work environment. Typically, these treats show up after lunch, right when our energy is dropping and we are needing stress relief from a busy day. When we are used to using food to help soothe ourselves, it’s hard to resist the quick relief tasty treats can provide.
Your Tricks in a Nutshell:
Trick #1. Find, develop, and ENJOY your very own special treat that you can have as an alternative to the popular treats that show up at work. Is a Krispy Kreme such a special breakfast when you have your own egg scramble with pesto and sundried tomatoes? This is NOT eating fruit when the rest of your coworkers are eating birthday cake. This needs to be a special food that gets you excited.
Trick #2. Do not break the seal. We think we can have “just a taste” or a small sliver of these treats and we can count on our willpower to carry us through. When the addiction response is so strong, this is easier said than done. Licks, bites and tastes all add up and the more we expose ourselves to this flavor combination of salt, sugar and fat, the more we reinforce the addiction pleasure response. Know yourself. Wait several weeks or months before your tempt yourself with these “super-tasty” foods. It may help at first to even avoid looking at these foods and keeping your environment free of them for greater success in resisting temptation.
Trick #3. Handle your stress with activity. It’s inevitable, you will get stressed out. How can you keep up with releasing these pent up feelings without resorting to eating foods that offer temporary relief but lasting guilt. I guarantee if you manage your stress before it gets to you, it will be so much easier to turn down temptations that otherwise have so much appeal. If you know you are going to be faced with a table full of temptation, see if you can engineer a long walk or hike or yoga class before you encounter that event.
BONUS TRICK! Look around. What do you see? Pretend you are a scientist observing everyone else indulging. Do you see overweight people? Do you see people who complain about how hard it is to eat healthy? Do you see children who abandon their cake after a few bites to run off and play? If you were to observe yourself in this scenario, how would you like to be observed? Do you want to be the person who is seen scraping up the dried colored frosting off the office birthday cake tray or are you the person who is politely declining because they prefer to indulge in their special dark chocolate square? Imagine yourself. Imagine yourself succeeding in a difficult scenario before it happens.