Actually this topic may be a lot easier than it seems. Most of the time we revert back to poor choices in our diet and nibble on those little undesirables when they are the only things available to us. We make nonchalant excuses to ourselves that there is no better option available, it takes too much time to make or we are too exhausted to have to actually prepare something just to have a snack. Well no more.
As you stay faithful to this new weekend-preparation regimen and commit to making meals and snacks for yourself for the entire week, those tendencies to backtrack will automatically dissipate. I can tell you from experience that I was an ice cream-oholic and had no problem snacking on other tasty sugary morsels in the pantry and fridge to the point of addiction. When I realized that my irritability and fatigue levels were irrationally high and all-too-frequent, I knew that I needed to make drastic changes to my diet, which led me to this low carb solution.
Yes, the first couple of weeks were difficult as the chemical addiction to the sugar (which indeed it is) was working its way out of my body’s system and I did experience withdrawals somewhat in the form of irritability, mild nerve tension and cravings. I was living in a household of three other people that had no problem keeping chocolate, ice cream, cookies, potato chips, and even something as seemingly innocent as creamer for coffee around. Temptations you say? Yes, please. However since I had decided to change my diet around, there were also new go-to options available that made things much easier and helped me to stay focused on my dietary goals.
Almonds, pistachios (fattier but still healthy in moderate amounts), fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries and blueberries, brick cheeses to slice up, veggie snacks like carrots, celery sticks, radishes, fresh beet slices, and still other alternatives like Greek yogurt are all easy-to-grab snacks that do not require any sort of preparation. The first couple of weeks found me standing in front of the pantry staring a package of cookies in the face and questioning how much I actually wanted them, and then by placing the package of almonds or what-have-you right next to them, I conceded (beside myself) to go for the healthier option. “I really want just a couple cookies,” I thought, trying to sneakily reason with myself, but that was just the sugar addiction talking. I would playfully comfort myself saying, “Well, they will still be there later.”
Over time, that concern for “later” never came about. The cravings for the kinds of foods that were not a part of my new diet subsided faster than expected. Much to my surprise, as I monitored my thoughts and experiences, those old indulgences that once had such an attractive appeal were not all that enticing anymore. “Not care for ice cream!?” I thought to myself once in surprise of this new feeling. But no, no more care for ice cream, really. Wow.
Honestly I see these old temptations there still and every once in a while I think how it might be nice to indulge and then that thought blows on by like it was nice enough just to stay as an idea. The change really happened after that two-week period when I realized just how good I was eating with all the sumptuous recipes of this change in eating habits. Who knew vegetables could taste so good and be so filling! Who knew that digging on salmon, eggs and avocado for breakfast would be so much more satisfying than a bowl or two of sugary cereal?
The actual quality of foods that I had switched to replaced the richness I thought I was getting by eating foods that were high in unhealthy oils, fats, sugars and carbs. That helped convince my body to give up the old goodies, and my body had the no-nonsense, “I want what I want when I want it,” kind of childish attitude that drove those cravings. Now I feel my body saying, “Good God! What creative organic concoction can we dine on today?”
The mental change that happened and dissolved those wavering moments of trying to reason myself into decadent snacking was the eventual observation of how much better I would feel day to day. I had more energy, I could think clearer, and my overall mood slowly but noticeably changed. The edginess I had felt around people turned into an easygoing openness and acceptance of being present. The stress and worry that I felt at work like a monkey constantly on my back subsided into a confident feeling of a sigh and saying, “Ok yes, let’s do this,” and then even further relaxed into, “Oh yeah, I’m going to do this today and I’m going to have fun doing it.”
Yes, I did have to repeat these intentions to myself initially and frequently, almost to the point of having to convince myself for lack of knowing better. I knew from the start though that this is how I really wanted to feel rather than the anxiety of before, and I knew there had to be a way. It was the changes in eating that really made it effortlessly possible with time. I started noticing moments of feeling better than I had remembered ever feeling in a while during those first two weeks. They kept me going because I realized this was the long term solution while indulging in those old foods were a short term solution, both aiming toward the goal of wanting to feel good within myself.
As time progressed, my body’s system detoxified and filtered out the residual effects of the fatty and sugary foods, and really that is what I see them as now when I look at them in the kitchen. Associating them with those feelings of fatigue, dissatisfaction, edginess and cloud mindedness that they cause really helped me see them for what they were and question when tempted, “Is this what I really want? Do I really want to feel this way again?” All I needed was a flash feeling of that previous state for me to immediately respond, “No thank you!”
In the same way, each time that I felt hunger coming on and went into the kitchen to sate it I would contemplate the healthy options I had made available in the home and associated how good I had been feeling lately with them, because of them. I was replacing a toxic environment within the body due to the foods that I consumed with a supportive, energizing environment instead. With a lot of studying and research, I found several studies that directly link the environment of our bodies with that of our brains and mentality.
As we create a healthy environment within the body, we promote a healthier, more relaxed environment for our thoughts, overall mood and emotions, which leads to a happier and more satisfying lifestyle day in and day out. It eases the process of making better lifestyle choices on a more consistent basis so that we can be at our best and take life’s challenges and opportunities in stride, and that is exactly what happened from my own experience. So I encourage and support you to stay focused from first-hand to remain faithful to your goals. There is no room or chance for failure because already you are doing right by yourself by reading and assimilating this material.
The process of being the only person in the house to engage in a low carb diet, or even walk on the street or through the store when there are so many temptations at hand is partly a mental game while the other part is physical. One depends on the other. The way to play the mental game is to create associations for yourself related to each type of food that speak to you on a personal level.
Create a mental relationship with the foods that you are trying to stay away from by associating them with the real ways that they inevitably leave you feeling. These ways include the aforementioned feelings of fatigue, irritability, nerve-stricken, slow, hazy or distracted thinking and a sluggishness that creates resistance to following through with the daily tasks you have set before yourself, as well as engaging in those activities that the better part of you actually wants but does not feel that you have the energy for them.
In turn, you must also establish a relationship with the foods that you are incorporating into your new dietary regimen by associating them with the real ways that they affect your body and mind. After getting a little seasoned knowledge from this and the previous chapters of just how the nutrients of these accommodating foods promote your wellbeing in body and mind, apply it to envisioning how you will feel by consuming them more often for your meals each time that you feel hungry and feel like you might be tempted by the wayside. After a short time (one to two weeks) of sticking to the low carb diet, those associations and visions will be accompanied by the actual experiences of feeling good from your body adapting to these new dietary changes.
That is the physical part of the game. The experience of your mood and energy levels will become a gauge for you to notice directly how each different food substance affects you. You will begin to develop a new kind of body awareness. The body does talk, we have just grown accustomed to muffling it for the sake of pleasurable taste when really we had no idea how fulfilling a lifestyle of healthy eating could be. Stay observant to what your body is telling you in reaction to each thing that you consume, and you will be able to incorporate that with the mental game to support yourself further.
Eventually you will not have to put as much effort into the mental game and your personal support system will transition from a motivational one to an energized one due to the consistency of keeping your internal environment healthily supported. From there this new way of life will level out to normalcy. You will be able to look back at where you had come from and smile for seeing just the little shifts here and there that you made to turn your entire daily life experience around.
For now, stay motivated and play that mental game with confidence. Stay focused on your goals that you really do want to lose weight, you really do want to feel good in body and mind, and you will. Remember the kitchen setup exercise of stepping back and affirming to yourself all that you have accomplished, even while you are still right in the middle of the process. That is a great motivator and confidence booster, so be gentle with yourself that you are putting forth your best efforts while your discipline is being tested. Let all of this feed into your decision-making process as you feed yourself.
One more thing that is very helpful while being surrounded by persuasive foods, as the only low carb dieter in the house, is to be prepared with your own foods. It is a lot harder to be tempted when you have your own options available to you, all ready for your feasting. Along with playing the mental game to your advantage, you can make your own diet-savvy options temptations to yourself. “Oh, potato chips? Chinese food?” you could say to your housemates or yourself, “Well, looky here. I have some chocolate almond yogurt,” or “I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this balsamic shrimp stir-fry.” Oh heck yes.