Give Yourself A Choice!

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Jennifer Snelling


The trick to changing my eating habits has been to always give myself a choice.” 


We’ve all heard it and maybe even experienced it – “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Also – “We always want what we can’t have.” 


Especially in these times when we feel like we need to watch every penny, we find ourselves wanting things but not necessarily needing them.  This has always been true of food, where we may have a craving for potato chips but convince ourselves to eat a salad – against our own desires – in order to curb the craving in a healthy way. 


With a culinary student in our household, we tend to keep frozen food around only for convenience and fresh carrots or fruit handy as healthy snacks.  When we have time for a big meal, it is usually cooked from the freshest ingredients available, which are stocked in the fridge and on the counters only two or three days beforehand.


Invariably, the television is tuned to food shows.  Between the rich, buttery recipes on those shows and the restaurant commercials – even the junk food commercials and the diet food commercials that show “healthy” chocolate or exploding donuts – I’m left thinking about candy and staring at carrots.


Since my birthday falls right after Valentine’s Day, I had good leverage in convincing my boyfriend to bring home a large box of chocolates and some salty junk food recently. 


The funny thing is … I don’t crave them like I did before.


Simply knowing that the chocolate is there – that I can have it if I want it, has helped tremendously.  Denial is a powerful thing!  I spoiled myself while I was living alone, and furthermore working in the office where a mid-afternoon sugary snack gives a pick-me-up to get one through the rest of the day!  Junk food is comfort food, and when I crave that food and can’t have it, I want it even more.


Two years ago for Lent, I stopped eating or drinking anything with high fructose corn syrup.  It was quite entertaining for my co-workers and boss to watch me deny myself colas and candies, even as they ate them around me.  I think they were taking bets on how long I could make it last!  I took pride in the fact that they had so little faith in me and I was able to prove them wrong, lose weight and feel better at the same time!


The trick to changing my eating habits has been to always give myself a choice. 


I have to make a decision and stick to it with the dedication that I owe to me, myself. 


If I make a commitment to avoid cola, then each time I am given a choice of what to drink, it is my own decision to drink water or tea instead.  That decision empowers me, and I feel even better about my choice.


And when see an exploding donut on television and go to the kitchen, I have a choice of eating a piece of chocolate or a few carrots. 


Suddenly it isn’t a matter of what I have to eat, or that I don’t have a choice. 


Knowing I can have that piece of chocolate any time I want it takes away that power in my mind and those carrots don’t seem so unappetizing.


Give yourself choices, but think about them carefully and don’t go back on your decisions. 


Plan ahead of time how you will handle situations like special occasions.  Stick to your guns and take pride in the choices you make.  The best part is that you’ll surprise yourself and those around you when you allow yourself a little indulgence but make healthy decisions instead!


“Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.”


“He tells himself over and over again in any choice presented to him, ‘Prefer the hard.’  This holds good not only in great matters, but also in very small, in fighting by the frozen Danube and in starting the day early.”
-Marcus Aurelius


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Posted on 17 March, 2009 in Fitness & Health, Goals, Motivation
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