The secret to avoiding food temptation is not to see it (whatever the temptation is) as an absolute NO, NEVER, YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY! If there’s one thing we’ve all learned in our journey from toddler to teenager and now for some of us as parents, denial or restriction from something craved or coveted results in the forbidden fruit syndrom: that which we cannot have becomes the thing we most desire. That’s when “sneaking” or “cheating” or worse “over-indulging” comes in.
When I was a child, my mother did not allow us to eat any sugared cereals. However, because my bother and I were denied ever tasting this one food item, especially since so many of our peers did eat it, we got obsessed with, in particular, Lucky Charms. Despite being 3½ years apart in age, it was the first grocery item both of us purchased when we moved out from home after high school. My brother even purchased a box when he was 16 and kept it in his room. I know, because I snuck into his room and ate some!
Adults are no different. Many go on diets (which you all know I feel is a terrible word because it implies temporary) wherein you restrict your nutrition to more healthier, or lower calorie choices, but your heart still longs for that food/drink you crave and love. Thus begins a cycle of torment as you deny yourself something, then ultimately sneak or indulge in it, and then berate yourself with feelings of guilt and disappointment.
So back to my initial question: how do you avoid food temptation. YOU DON’T. But you DO moderate it. If you enjoy sweets or alcohol or fried foods, place a limited amount into your nutrition plan. I recommend that the allotment be more about a limited quantity than a specific day. I find that when my clients say they’ll only have a glass of wine on the weekends, or a sweet treat on Fridays, when an occasion comes along where they are faced with wanting wine on a Wed, or a party on a Sat night is serving carrot cake – now what?!
If your plan allows for two glasses of wine per week, or four cookies – then you know your quantity and you can play with it as you wish. That freedom goes a long way to breaking the idea that these food cravings are forbidden or wrong. (Again, if you change your nutrition plan to a lifestyle change and not a diet you will also increase your chances of successful and permanent weight loss.)
With my 7 year old daughter, I currently only purchase non-sugared cereals, and usually they’re organic and gluten free as well But I explained my cereal experience and then bought her a small box of Lucky Charms. I gave her a bowl one day as a “treat reward” that she’d earned. She liked the cereal, but she’s never asked for it again. It is not a forbidden fruit to her – it is simply something to have in moderation. In her case, there are many other tastier (and fortunately healthier) sweet treats that she’d rather have for her treat rewards.
So this Halloween I challenge all of you who fear the candy bowl – pick one, two, even five of your favorite candies (a roll of sweeties, the fun size Snickers, a handful of candy corn). Have one right then, then have another in a day or two. I guarantee you’ll feel no guilt, and a relief that you got to taste that which you have been denying yourself. In all likelihood you’ll probably find it wasn’t as good as you remembered and you’ll not crave it as much in the future.