One of the biggest challenges with weight loss and healthy eating is making sustainable life-long changes. If you’ve ever committed to change before you know how challenging it can be to maintain the necessary willpower to overcome temptation.
This is why in some cases it’s better to learn ‘moderation’ over ‘elimination.’ I’ll give you a personal example. I love going out for Mexican food. And when I say, ‘I LOVE GOING OUT for Mexican food,’ I mean I could actually go out for it every night of the week given the right restaurant. It’s something that willpower cannot overcome and I’m not willing to eliminate it from my diet.
So instead, I allow myself to go out no more than one night a week for my favorite foods and while there I limit my intake. Do I want a whole bowl of chips and salsa to myself? Absolutely! But instead I opt for just a few chips (5 or so) and push the rest away. When it comes time to order my meal I stick with the main dish and avoid the tortillas if possible. If the meal comes with rice and beans I only take a bite of each and leave the rest. When I am especially motivated I split my meal with my husband.
By still allowing myself to enjoy my favorite things I have the ability to control my intake while there. I have a feeling if I didn’t allow myself these weekly treats, I’d lose all control and completely overindulge in everything at the table given a chance.
But on the other hand there are things that I need to completely eliminate because even just having a little makes me want more, and more (and more).
Allow me to introduce my addiction to diet coke. Even just writing those words makes my mouth water. I met diet coke in my late teens and have battled with it ever since. Despite reading study after study, and numerous articles on the ill effects of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners, my desires for it overtake all reason and I allow myself to indulge in the toxic liquid.
So here’s my pattern…I quit drinking diet coke and then we take a road trip. I think, ‘Well, I can have just one while we travel. It will help me keep my husband company while he drives.’ Then we arrive to our destination and I think, ‘Well, we don’t normally eat here and a diet coke would really taste good with this meal so I’ll order just one.’ Before I know it I’m stocking up on the sales while struggling to keep the fridge stocked.
Meanwhile, my water consumption is tanking and my body is bloating. Yes, I know it’s zero calorie but between the carbonation and the artificial sweeteners I expand like a blowfish.
So for me, moderation is NOT a choice when it comes to diet coke. I have no choice but to completely eliminate it from my diet. One leads to another and before I know it I’m back to drinking 2 or more a day.
It’s been about a month since my last diet coke. Do I want one? Absolutely. Am I going to give in? I truly hope not. But if I do, the decision won’t define my journey rather be a stumble along the way.
As you think about making changes decide if it’s something that you need to moderate or eliminate. If you determine it’s something you should eliminate from your diet, don’t beat yourself up if your willpower fails. It might happen. Just know that just because you indulged once, doesn’t mean you have to fall back into old patterns.