At the movies.
At the gym.
At the mall.
The opportunity to purchase and consume food is everywhere. Even when I went to the hair salon last month, not only was there coffee, but also an array of cookies. From billboards to radio ads, magazines and tv spots, we are bombarded with food and food messages around every turn. If you stop and look around for a minute, it’s astounding as to how absolutely surrounded by food we really are.
Our emotional and social connections to food have been built up over the years. We learned at an early age, that going to the movies means pop corn and candy. We have some drinks and over eat at parties and holiday gatherings. We have cake at birthdays, candy at Easter and Halloween and a multitude of treats on other ‘special occasions’. When there is food available and offered, we feel obligated to have some. We feel if we didn’t, we’d insult our host or seem ‘different’ from our friends by abstaining.
If the idea of going to the movies without a bucket of popcorn makes you feel deprived, take a moment. Think about the thoughts and emotions surrounding the feelings attached to the idea. Would the movie be any less enjoyable without having a lap full of snacks? What if you had a great plant-strong dinner just before going to see the film? Spending two hours without food happens often throughout the course of the average day. So what makes the two hours during a movie a food requirement? Most of us have never ever stopped and thought about it. Most of these situations have never been examined, we just do it that way because we always have. Making healthy strides means making better choices.
The holidays brings many parties along with the opportunity to consume a bunch of food and have some drinks. From feeling obligated to feeling that the treat is deserved and lots of feelings in between, many of us have a tendency to drop their healthy way of life and overindulge. We say things like: it’s only once a year, I’ve earned it, Grandma made them special just for me, I’ll only have a little, everyone else is having a drink etc.
For some, the ability to indulge now and then is no problem. For others, ditching their healthy way of eating for a few days of holiday fun can spell disaster. A lot of people have a really hard time getting back on plan. Once the floodgates of fat, salt and sugar are opened, the hard work put into eradicating these unhealthy habits can come undone. Some of you may be yelling at your computer screen right now. Saying things like: oh no way! I am NOT giving up ____________. If it upsets you greatly to think about ‘missing out’ on something, skipping some special treat, abstaining from having several drinks over the holidays, or a movie without a giant bucket of popcorn. You might want to ask yourself why? Why do these ideas upset you so much? If you are like me, you might realize that you are addicted to food. The feelings of discomfort or anger when thinking about not having __________, can be very telling. Pleasure Traps are everywhere. You might realize that in order to stay on track with the healthy plan that you’ve worked hard at all year, you have to stay the course.
When thinking about opportunities to eat food, whether it is at a coffee shop with a friend, sitting in a movie, at a holiday party or the smoothie bar at the gym, it’s an opportunity to choose your health first. Just because food is available, it does not mean you have to have any. Most of these ocassions are planned events, which gives you time to plan ahead. You can, eat a big plant-strong meal first, bring a plant-strong dish to a party or offer to be the designated driver for your group. Choosing to make a healthy choice doesn’t deprive you of something, it promotes the healthy lifestyle that you have created. One of the best treats you can give yourself.