Confession #2: I Eat Chocolate Cake.
Yes, I love chocolate in almost any form, especially cake. If you offer a fresh piece to me at any point in time, I guarantee that I will accept with pleasure. It’s the same truth for pizza, ice cream with sprinkles, donuts, and many adult beverages. You get the point.
Am I ashamed of this? Nope. Not one bit. Well, maybe the sprinkles, but honestly none of the rest.
You see, I believe in living life to its fullest. In my opinion, that means enjoying treats.
I also believe that to live life to its fullest, I need to remain healthy. So, as much as I’d like to eat chocolate cake every day, I don’t. But how does a person like me who loves treats avoid eating too many?
How I avoid eating too much chocolate cake
It’s not easy, but it is simple. I don’t keep these things in the house. I figured this method out all by myself, no dietetic’s degree necessary, just because I know how weak my willpower is.
But dietitians can’t just tell people to do what has worked for themselves in the past. We have to provide evidence-based information to our clients.
My method was validated by the book, Mindless Eating, written by a researcher, Brian Wansink, at Cornell University. Have you ever had a moment when you agreed with someone so much you wanted to cheer and do a little cartwheel? I probably shouldn’t try a cartwheel anymore, but that’s how I felt. His book immediately became a favorite of mine and eventually a favorite of many of my clients. I call it “my favorite diet book because it’s not really a diet book.”
In summary, the book is a compilation of simple studies observing oblivious people eating. It explains the psychology of why we eat the way we do, and some tricks our minds play on us. One study showed that if you put terrible tasting popcorn in front of people, they will still eat it just because it’s in front of them. They will complain while they eat it, but they will still eat it. AND the larger the amount offered, the more people will eat.
Fascinating. It helps explain why when we bring the warehouse-sized junk food bag to the couch, it’s gone before the movie is over. We may not even remember enjoying it.
Put a healthy twist on that, and it also explains why the plate of raw veggies I set out for my family disappears while I’m cooking dinner, even as my darlings complain about how long it’s taking me to cook dinner. Ha! And I was just trying to keep them from digging for nutrition-sparse appetisers.
So I keep the treats out of the house, and I keep the healthy food inside the house. If I decide I want a treat, I plan it. I go out and get it, or I find a recipe and make it myself, with bonus points if I make it delicious and a bit healthier. This means the treat is an effort, not an easy, mindless grab. And when I sit down to enjoy my treat, I really think about how much I’m enjoying it. I savor it with someone I enjoy being with, creating an entire mini-experience for myself. I try to be mindful about every bite or sip.
I encourage my clients to do the same thing, within the limits of their own health restrictions, of course. Some dietitians call this the 90/10 rule: 90 percent of the time, eat healthfully. The other percent goes to the favorites that might enrich life even more than just living as simply a health nut.
What are some tricks that you use to help keep your family eating healthy?