By Sara Colman, Balanced HabitsTM RDN, CDE
Is it possible your surroundings are keeping you from losing weight or maintaining weight loss? We are surrounded by environmental cues that may sabotage weight control efforts.
So what are those cues and how do you manage them?
#1 Food related marketing and advertisements that entice eating.
Tip: Pay attention to how you respond to food related commercials, billboards, grocery store enticements, print materials, etc. Limit your exposure as much as possible—fast forward through food commercials. Shop with a list and avoid shopping isles that have tempting items. While you can’t avoid these messages completely, you can increase awareness of how you respond and put a defense plan in place.
#2 Easy access to cheap and tasty processed foods like burgers, pizza, burritos, French fries, soda, shakes, ice cream, cookies and chocolate.
Tip: Seek out eating places that offer a healthy menu and focus on produce and lean protein offerings. Remind yourself that if you must eat them, those processed foods should be an occasional treat, not a weekly meal plan. Identify foods you enjoy that do not cause an emotional struggle.
#3 Social events that always include food. Sporting events, parties, holiday celebrations—think about how these events test your will-power or tempt you to eat more food.
Tip: Bring a healthy dish or appetizer to parties and celebrations. Eat before attending events so it’s easier to resist tempting junk foods. Plan ahead, thinking about healthier options available. Grab the smaller plate and choose tastings rather than full servings, especially if there are many choices. Split an entrée with a friend. Focus on the social interactions and less on food and drinks.
#4 Overexposure to processed foods that are high in high fructose corn syrup, sugar, fat and refined flour.
Tip: Figure out your triggers and make changes. Does that donut or ice cream shop set off a craving that lures you in? Take a different route. Does the $5.00 pizza special tempt you to change your dinner plans? Remind yourself about the ingredients. Is it really worth the tradeoff of a healthier meal? Do you get Taco Tuesday temptations? Create your own special Tuesday go-to meal with a healthy meal you enjoy equally.
#5 Popular food trends that add calories and bust your budget. Where do you get your morning coffee? Is that popular sports drink really the best choice?
Tip: Figure out how much money you will save by brewing coffee at home or swapping water for sugary sports drinks or soda. In addition to the money, figure up how many calories you will save. Always look for the healthier option and consider it as the first choice.