The best way to stay on track with your plans to eat healthy foods is to plan ahead. But what happens when you were up with a sick baby all night, at an hours-long soccer tournament or at a church committee meeting that ran late and you didn't have time to pack your lunch? Here are five ways to handle the temptations that are bound to come your way from time to time. Not all of these will work all of the time but they are some options to consider next time that double cheeseburger or four-layer chocolate cake is calling your name.
Know your triggers. If you were not able to plan your meals due to a hectic schedule or mild crisis, chances are you also did not get enough sleep. Fatigue can make us much more susceptible to temptation. But simply being aware of that fact can help you fight off the temptation. When you are staring longingly at that cinnamon roll and large cup of coffee, say to yourself, "I want that because I'm tired but I know it will only make me feel even worse later in the day." This technique can also work if you have other triggers to eat such as anger or sadness.
Reward yourself for making good choices. If you are in the cafeteria deciding between a banana or a banana muffin, make a deal with yourself. If you choose the banana, promise yourself a great cup of coffee or non-fat latte on your way home from work. For longer stretches of time such as a week-long work conference or a girls weekend, choose a little larger reward such as that pair of shoes or blouse you have wanted. Each time you're tempted to make poor food choices, just think how great you'll look in your new outfit.
Get outside and take a walk. If fantasies about the doughnuts your boss put in the break room have taken over your brain, take a quick walk outside. Both getting outside and doing physical activity can make you feel healthier and better about yourself. While you are taking your walk tell yourself that you are important and that your body deserves better than a pile of fried refined carbohydrates. If you can, grab an apple or a small bag of nuts on your way back to your desk to give you the strength to fight the temptation.
Think about where the food came from. When that bag of chips lures you in, reading the ingredient list or the nutrition information may be enough to keep you from giving in to temptation. If that perfect piece of pie at the bakery is beckoning, think about all the refined sugar, white flour and maybe even lard that is in it. Just envisioning your food coming out of the deep-fat-fryer or off the mechanical assembly line is sometimes enough to end the craving or at least help you make a healthier choice.
Talk to a friend. Having someone in your life who is also trying to eat healthy is priceless. You can share tips and recipes. And you can help each other when temptation arises. If you are really tempted, give your healthy-eating friend a call. She may be able to help you determine what triggered this craving or tell you the amount of calories in that king-sized candy bar. Both being accountable to someone else and having someone who understands your temptations is a great asset in the road to healthier eating.