Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out of Sight, Out of My Mind

Dan and I are 3 days shy of celebrating our first wedding anniversary and we couldn't be happier (oh, all right maybe if we won the lottery) but there have been some major adjustments for both of us over the last year. Most of them are due to just the normal differences in the way two different people are used to doing various things.

For example, he has a very different style of making the bed than I have. We found out a long time ago that we do very well ignoring the fact that he pulls the sheets down for a deep border beneath the pillows while I tend to pull the hem of the sheet way up close to the headboard. But that's OK because we reached a compromise months ago. Whoever gets out of bed last is the one to make the bed, and the other one doesn't criticize how it's done.

Buying and storing food is a lot different for us. I have a very organized system for the pantry and the refrigerator and freezer based upon years of homemaking. The spices are alphabetized and the fridge shelves are dedicated to their contents: dairy and deli items, condiments, breads, etc. Produce in the produce drawers, please, and leftovers on the top shelf. Laugh if you must. It's not that I'm rigid or some kind of control freak that I insist on the fridge staying organized. It's so I can FIND things when I'm cooking. Even more importantly, I need to be able to FIND things when I'm SNACKING. Do I sound strident? It's because...

One of the biggest reasons people fail at weight loss or diet control is being unprepared for the snack attack that comes from nowhere. You know what I mean. There you are, minding your own business, when WHAM!!! Suddenly you have visions of Hershey bars dancing in your head

and you need a snack NOW. At times like this, your clean food can't be stuck up on the top shelf behind the Oreo's.

There are many ways to deal with this but one strategy that was mentioned to me lately by my friend Gary is to keep your safest snacks available, within sight, and make sure they're the handiest ones around. Plan how you are going to eat them, what dish you will serve them on, and where you will sit instead of giving in to half the bag of potato chips standing at the kitchen sink or a fistful of cookies as you're charging out the door! Make it as easy or even easier to access beautiful food. Keep the celery sticks, pre-cut and pre-cleaned, right in plain sight so you spot them the minute you open the fridge. Display that beautiful ceramic dish your best friend made for you on the kitchen counter; fill it with cherries. My personal favorite vegetable for snacking is the sugar snap pea, available in local Farmers Markets but also pre-packaged in the produce section of all supermarkets.

Another way to deal with snacking is to just accept that it can be a healthy way to eat. More and more doctors and dietitians are recommending five mini-meals a day instead of three hearty ones. It helps stabilize blood sugar throughout the day and keeps up our energy level. The way to make it work for you is to determine the number of calories you want to consume over the course of the day, and allocate 100 - 150 of them to midmorning and midafternoon snack times. It also helps us control those impulses when we're tempted to reach for something we don't really want to eat. We can say to ourselves, "No, I don't want that donut at the meeting this morning - I'm going to hold out for my sweet, juicy apricots instead."

Finally, keep plenty of ammunition on hand. Things I always have in the house include reduced fat string cheese, almonds and pistachios, fresh vegetables, and nonfat cottage cheese. An indulgence I've discovered recently is wine marinated herring. I know that may sound weird, but for 50 calories it's kept me out of the cookie jar more than once. Some people swear by sugar-free Jell-o or pudding, but my sweet secret weapon is Trader Joe's No Sugar Added Milk Chocolate bar. At 120 calories per serving, I can include some a few times a week and feel great too. What are YOUR favorites to keep up your sleeve?

If you have any tried-and-true strategies to defeat a snack attack, I invite you to leave a comment to share with other readers.

No comments: