At first I was a bit confused by the title of this guest post. But in this article, Noel of Fitness Philippines explains why it’s important to pay close attention to the associations that you make with food. And if you’re having trouble with your weight or nutrition, then I highly recommend you read his highly informative post…
How often have you found yourself reaching into that bag of potato chips or chocolate chip cookies and scarfed down at least half of the entire bag before realizing what was going on? That you just threw away your diet plans? That you just gained back those five pounds you took a whole month to lose? What happened?
Natural Reaction Caused By Unconscious Associations
What often occurs during these types of situations is a natural reaction caused by an unconscious association we might have for certain kinds of food. Our fast food society has developed many packaged goods that we can easily dip in and out of at our own leisure whenever we fancy. We find these sorts of products extremely delicious and convenient and thus we stock up on them and devour them whenever we please.
In a perfect world, this sort of behavior would be tolerated. Unfortunately, in our reality, consequences abound with such habits. These sorts of snacks have very high caloric loads with very little nutritional value, eventually amounting to us being overweight, then, obese, then stricken with cardiovascular disease.
But we already know this. We know that if we gorge on junk food of any kind for a certain period that we’ll have to pay severe consequences later on. But why do many of us still persist in these sorts of patterns? What invisible force has us hooked into eating our health away?
It’s us. It’s corny, I know, but believe me, the enemy is within. Marketing and late night television combined have influenced our lives for so long that they’ve unconsciously drilled the most unhealthy habits into our lifestyles without us even knowing about it.
When we sit on our couches to relax from yet another arduous day of work, we reach for that can of beer and that bag of chips and watch Letterman or some other late night program. During the weekends, we park buckets of ice cream and cartons of pizzas while we embark on yet another video game marathon. When we get lazy at work, we munch on some cookies while we surf the net for our favorite sites.
See a pattern here? In times idleness, we become weak. Our mind wanders to objects of desire when we leave a void waiting to be filled. The solution? Simple, really: fill the void before it fills itself.
Schedule Your Meals… Like Other Activities
My favorite way to spend my day is to fill it with things that I like to do and need to get done. I properly schedule everything out and make sure that I focus on a specific task when I set down to do it. This not only makes my day more productive, but it helps me steer clear of things I shouldn’t be laying my paws on in the first place.
Okay, first thing’s first, you need to schedule your meals. Doesn’t really matter if you prefer to do this daily or plan an entire week or month in advance, what matters is you do this in advance somehow, and stick to what you’ve written down. Yes, write it down! Doesn’t matter how great your memory is, if you don’t write it down and place your schedule somewhere you’ll always easily notice (like as a note saved as your desktop wallpaper), you’ll always unconsciously overwrite it with goodies that you have no business digesting.
Create your meals around lean protein (such as tuna, chicken breast, and egg whites) and tons of vegetables. If you need some dessert to top that off, pick your favorite fruit, but don’t gorge on it! The sugar contained in it may be all natural, but it still piles up over time. Still, it’s way better than cake and ice cream, and I still recommend it if you’ve got an insatiable sweet tooth.
Not getting full enough if you’re eating mostly veggies? Eat beans! Yes, beans. They’re a magic food of sorts, containing loads of protein, carbohydrates, and other incredible nutrients that can extend your lifetime if you make them staples of your diet. There are plenty of beans available, so pick your favorites and mix and match them with your meal for that time of day. You won’t regret it!
When to eat? Some sources say every two, three, four, five, six, or even seven hours! Which do I believe? Yourself. That’s the best guide for you in this quest for greater health. Always. Doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg at Amazon, either. Your body will always tell you what’s good and bad for you. Just listen to it.
Junk food making you sick? Get rid of it. Feeling weak when you sit down? Go work out. Not sleeping very well? Cut back on the caffeine. And so on. So eat when you’re genuinely hungry, but like I mentioned, this isn’t one of those crazy fad diets that you’ll leave behind after only five days.
Eat until you’re full, but make sure your meals are composed of the good stuff (again: lean protein (tuna, chicken breast, egg whites, etc), tons of veggies, and beans you like). Then eat again when you’re hungry. You probably know yourself pretty well by this time, so schedule your meals around your personal habits. You more or less get hungry every five hours? Then plan to eat a good, balanced meal every five hours. If you eat right and eat until you’re full every time, you will rarely crave for other types of foods in the interim.
How to Avoid Cravings When You’re Not “Busy”
But what about keeping busy? It’s easy enough to do that at work, but what about when you get home and want to relax? If you really need to watch Letterman every night, overwrite your junk food habit with something else. Again, keep busy. Stretch, or buy a pair of light dumbbells and do a simple and quick workout routine while the show’s on.
Some people like to lift or stretch during the commercials and rest during showtime. Don’t like to exercise? Fine, I won’t force you. Point is, you should multi-task during these habits of general idleness, so your hands won’t reach for junk of any kind.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg, and is just a simply blueprint for anyone to fill in with their personal habits and schedules. Just keep the title in mind whenever you feel tempted. It’s important not to eat these kinds of foods or we’ll suffer later on. Okay, fine, once in maybe a week is good, as long as the cheat meal’s properly scheduled and not abused. Just don’t eat them and do other things. Spend more time with your kids, do some much needed chores, finish that project that’s been languishing a month. Just keep busy and you’ll realize that you don’t need to be splayed all over the couch to have some fun around the house.
After a few weeks or a month of doing this, you’ll notice that you’ve not only become more productive overall, but that your health’s back on track (yes, combining this with an exercise program will greatly speed up the results). Your blood pressure’s not through the roof anymore, you’re not as tired as you were during the day, you sleep better, and yes, you look fantastic.
Fill your void with things that will help you and not set you back, and you’ll forget that junk was ever a part of your daily life.
Steve’s Note: I like Noel’s approach for avoiding the crappy food that most people eat. While I can’t claim to be perfect in this area, I have learned that his advice is completely spot on! If you plan out your meals and account for those moments for potential weakness, then it becomes a lot easier to avoid caving in. If you want to learn more about fitness, nutrition, healthy, with a martial arts twist, then I highly recommend you check out Noel’s Fitness Philippines blog.Take Action. Get Results.