Preparing Our Cupboards

Food can be a big challenge while on the weight loss journey, obviously. After all, we have to eat to survive. We can’t give up food cold turkey like a smoker, alcoholic, or drug user. That’s an excuse I have used over and over, and I am sure you have heard it, if you have not used it yourself.

It really got me to wondering though, are we addicted to all food, or to certain kinds of food?

I have experimented with a variety of diets: no sugar, no “white stuff”, no simple carbs, only fruit, vegetarian, only meat, liquid only liquids. While some people are only tempted by specific types of food, by experimenting this way I was able to determine that I will stuff my emotions down with ANY food if my favorites are not around or are currently off limits. Like an alcoholic who drinks rubbing alcohol because there is no booze in the house, I have eaten things in massive quantities that I don’t even like! That gave me the Aha! that mindset is the most important part of the journey, not limiting foods.

That doesn’t mean we should fill the house with chocolate ice cream and Doritos. This isn’t about proving you are above temptation—especially not in the beginning. All of us can be above temptation for some period of time. Sometimes that timeframe may be for months, at other times it may only be moments.

Give yourself a fighting chance at weight loss success!

It is essential to recognize that while you are changing your life, rather than going on a “diet,” you most likely will be able to have your favorite foods at some point in the future. When that time comes, you will probably be shocked and pleased to discover you cannot eat the quantity you used to. Even more amazing will be the discovery that some of the foods that have been your favorites will no longer even taste that good. Your body and mind are in the process of cleaning house. Some of the junk you are tossing out is okay in small doses. Other items you may find that you don’t want to have even small amounts around the house—kind of like having a small bomb in the basement!

When you are preparing for this change in your eating plan, classically you go through the cupboards and the refrigerator and toss out any “white stuff”—that would be sugar and flour and anything containing either of those ingredients. Not everyone is up to this emotionally and it can be especially difficult if you live with other people who do not want to go on this journey with you.

Most of us don’t want to through away food, but it is a good idea to get rid of any ‘trigger foods. ’ Trigger foods are the things that you just cannot have in the house without eating them—and once you start, you feel like you can’t stop as long as there is anything in the house. Some people’s trigger foods are salty items, like chips or even peanuts. Other people can’t resist creamy foods, breads, or sweets. The worst trigger foods can send me on such a binge that I won’t stop eating until I am sick—long past enjoyment, and long past eating foods I really love. This is what I mean when I say I am a food addict!

Again, this is not forever. As hard as it is to believe, I can actually have chocolate in the house and not eat it. I never thought I would be able to say that!

Unopened packages can be given to local banks if you can’t bear to toss them out. Place anything else that you can’t toss in a sealed container to be stored out of sight. Sometimes this works, because there is some truth to the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” Then keep the stuff REALLY out of sight, maybe out of the house entirely like with one of your support team members.

Keep in mind, if you absolutely want it, you can have it. After all, you could just go out and buy more, right? It isn’t about trying to fool other people into thinking you aren’t eating something. It isn’t about having them police you about the food you eat. It isn’t about depriving yourself either. This is about giving yourself time to think rather than grabbing something as a knee-jerk reaction. This time gives you the opportunity to make conscious food choices and puts you in control.

Most people don’t live alone, and if you share your home with others who do not want to change their eating habits then you might not be able to get rid of everything that is a temptation for you. In that case, put things on shelves that make it harder for you to see or find the food. I put treats on the top shelf of my pantry behind staples, or I put them in the basement inside a plastic bin or a cooler. It makes it an effort to get to the treat, again a delay tactic that gives your rational brain time to kick in.  Yes, it makes it harder for other people in the house to get the foods too, but get their support if possible. Talk to them about ways that they can still have their foods available that won’t be so difficult for you to handle.

Finally, label any food storage containers with messages that remind you why you are on this journey. This is one more opportunity for your mind to decide it does not want to eat that food after all.

If you do end up eating some food that you had hidden away, do not berate yourself over it. Instead, make it a fully conscious decision and celebrate the food—really savor it.

This is the way to change your relationship with food.

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