The scenario starts with a solid week of good food choices at home. You have eaten gallons of yogurt, bushels of fruit, a garden full of vegetables and the leanest meat you can find in the grocery store. You have thrown out your margarine packed with hydrogenated oil and substituted it with broth or olive oil.
You have been walking in the mornings and drinking more water. The last diet cola you had was 12 days ago and you actually have lost about 5 pounds. You’re winning!
So, the monthly shopping and errand-running trip comes due and you spend the day skipping from the bank to the home improvement store to the vet’s office. You hit the discount store for household goods, the electronics store for a cordless phone battery, and the warehouse club for a 15-pack of paper towels. And it is barely just noon. You are hungry.
You have been a good steward of your finances so you and your errand-running partner conclude that, “We need to go out for lunch. We are stressed out with all this standing in line and traffic and we need to refresh.”
Well, you’re not wrong. You do need to get a bite to eat with that busy day. You are probably also planning to go home and unpack all those purchases, put everything away, do your chores at home, and maybe get a workout in before it’s time to start dinner so you definitely need some fuel for the rest of the day.
The scenario continues at lunch where you have popped into your favorite local bar and grille for a hot meal and a little bit of a break. It’s decision time.
This is the part of the scenario that usually kills most people’s big goals of getting in better shape and undermines all the good food choices they have heretofore made.
Stay in the scenario, and see if you are still able to identify with how it plays out.
The restaurant you picked is your favorite because it is relatively inexpensive, the staff almost always does a great job and you really do like the food… a lot.
The menu offers a big variety of salads, entrees, soups, sandwiches, and so on. You have eaten here many times before and usually order the same thing most every time you come in because it’s consistently tasty and you know you will like it. It’s money not wasted on something you haven’t had and might not like.
That part about killing the goals? That’s what just happened. You may have read the different options in the low calorie section of the menu, carefully considering how they might taste, but you are really hungry from all that running around. You have several more hours of work and worry before dinner ever comes. Will this spinach and shrimp thingy sustain you until then?
Besides, you have been the ideal transformist. You had grapefruit and granola this morning. You have been eating “rabbit food” all week. One soda isn’t going to kill you. And besides, you deserve the yummy goodness of that cheeseburger, French fry, mozzarella stick, chip and dip mess you are most surely going to load your table with.
You are on a date with your equally hard-working spouse/partner/pal and you are going to indulge.
And on and on the excuses for making bad choices continue to stack up. The bad choices in this scenario are the ones that add a heart-straining amount of cholesterol, calories, saturated fat, and almost no nutritive value. A popular cheeseburger choice on a leading neighborhood bar and grille menu has almost 3 grams of trans fat (the kind that skyrockets bad LDL cholesterol) in just the burger.
Experts say that less than 2 grams for an entire day of trans fat is the upper limit for this devastatingly bad kind of fat. It’s even worse than saturated fat.
The reason comfort food is so dubbed is because it soothes us. To rely on ‘The Old Standby’ when choosing what you will put in your body is an easy thing to do. It is almost a guarantee that you will be physically satisfied, and an even higher likelihood that emotionally soothed as well.
Now I don’t want to be a complete jerk and say you can’t take a bit of a break now and then. And everyone needs to be rewarded for hard work. The trick is to make sure that falling off the wagon is a short drop and not a freefall.
Your choice-making will power is at its weakest when you are tired, stressed, and hungry. If you can’t parse out your errands to make the chore days less stressful, then launch into them with the positive thoughts of making good choices when you do stop for lunch. You will get satisfied, it will sustain you and you won’t have the post-meal guilt that inevitably comes with the hypothetical situation (although not so hypothetical for some of you) mentioned above.
To Your Very Best Health,