Picture the cliche diet disaster: you eat well all day and then find yourself ordering the 2000 calorie Alfredo for dinner on date night. What went wrong? If you’re anything with me you may get overwhelmed with choices when you are making a decision. This can actually lead to diet sabotage. Believe it or not the areas of your brain that are in charge of willpower (and regret) are overstimulated when you have too many choices- and this can increase your chances of making bad decisions! With too many choices even making the right decision feels less satisfying (it’s not all in your head either).
The trick is to make your habits feel automatic. Making your choices in advance will help relieve your internal mental battle of “Should I? Shouldn’t I?”. This also will help when someone brings in a surprise treat for the office (again) or a friend last minute invites you out, as you will have a better hold on your impulse control.
1. Skip the “Cheat Day”. Soo many diets include them but they can actually harm you for future meals. Eating whatever you want as a reward for eating healthy all week can undo all of your hard work. Those calories add up! Plus it makes normal eating the next day feel like deprivation, and is much more difficult. I find that on weekends I used to have my “binge meals” -pasta and sweets on Friday, drinks on Saturday- and have since started keeping an eye to make sure im not over indulging, it has helped majorly!
2. Treat yourself everyday. If you’re the kind of person who craves something sweet at the end of the night, indulge sparingly. I always keep a bar of dark chocolate in my fridge or freezer and when i’m craving something sweet will eat a square. This helps prevent me from ravening the kitchen trying to fulfill my cravings. A good rule to follow is to plan your snack the day before so you can allow for the cravings, you’ll be more likely to stick to the amount you planned.
3. Say yes. Self control is like a muscle, the more you challenge it the more fatigued it gets until you almost unconsciously make the decision you wouldn’t.
4. Have a backup strategy. Keep meals prepped so that at the end of a crazy day you are more likely to toss those already cut veggies into the saute pan instead of calling your local Chinese food restaurant. Plus, when you have to pre-measure portions and serving sizes you are actually AWARE of each item’s nutritional information.
5. Cut yourself off. Willpower is at its weakest usually at night, which may just be the reason you end up with Ben & Jerry in bed at 11 PM. Tell yourself “I don’t eat after 9 PM” and stick to it. Just saying the rules out loud will help reinforce your willpower.