Though everyone strives to be perfect eaters, life (and our appetites) tends to get in the way sometimes. A huge part of adopting a healthier lifestyle is to be in control of your appetite and the foods you eat at ALL odds, no matter what the situation or circumstance.
The notion of controlling your appetite relates closely to something I counsel a lot of my clients on, a concept known as intuitive eating. Being an intuitive eater means you eat based on your physiological need to eat, and your hunger and satiety signals. In my professional opinion, intuitive eating is the answer to controlling your appetite no matter what the situation, emotion, time or place.
I am going to discuss 5 of the most common situations in which people have the most difficulty controlling their appetites and what you can do to overcome these eating pressures.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
1. Social Gatherings
There is no time more difficult to control your appetite than when you are surrounded by good food with other people who are also not controlling their appetites. This is a classic case of peer pressure, from both the people and the food. You may have a grandmother who won’t give up until you eat that piece of cake she made or friends who are snacking on chips and dip or endless amounts of chicken wings at a backyard party.
But don’t worry, I am not going to tell you to pack yourself a boring little salad and eat in the corner with a blindfold on. There are ways you can control your appetite in these seemingly “health sabotaging” situations.
Solution: If you are invited to a party with friends or family, it is social etiquette to bring something with you, or at least make an offer to. Why not offer to bring a salad, vegetable side dish or a healthy dessert? This way you know you have a healthy option there for you, and you are also spreading healthy love to all of the party guests! Now that you have healthy food at the party, fill half of your plate with the salad or vegetables and choose small portions of the other tempting items (you never have to deprive yourself of what you want, just eat smaller portions).
By the time dessert comes, you are likely satisfied but don’t want to say no to the sweet treats. That’s okay, have a sliver of cake or one cookie. If you are being pressured to eat more, kindly say that you are full but would love to take a piece home to have for tomorrow.
2. Restaurants and Buffets
Going out to dinner or eating at a buffet is a quick way to toss your healthy habits out the window. Why? Because when you are paying for the food and the dining experience, you trick your mind into believing that you have to make the most out of what you are given, even if that means eating past the point of fullness.
Most people end up walking out of a restaurant or buffet in a food coma, leaving you feeling sluggish and often times regretful. A lot of social interaction is centered around dining out, but you do not have to lose your social life in order to maintain a healthy life.
Solution: There are a number of options for you with this one. The first starts when you open the menu. A lot of restaurants nowadays offer a lighter menu with healthier options and fewer calories and you should always be on the lookout for restaurants that label the nutrition information next to each menu item. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter to swap out French fries for a side of mixed vegetables or a salad.
I’m not saying be pushy or demanding, but see what the waiter can do for you, they always want their customers pleased. Another good habit to practice when you dine out is to ask for a “to go” box as soon as you get your food and put half of it away for you to take home. This is especially helpful to do in restaurants that offer larger than life portions. As for buffets, you do not have to avoid them. When you go to a buffet my advice is to first walk around and see what they’re offering and what appeals to you the most. Then take your plate and keep in mind that you want a protein, whole grain, vegetable and fruit.
Try and cover all of these bases when you fill your plate. Only go back for seconds if you are hungry – remember, always listen to your internal hunger and satiety cues!
Attending a ball game doesn’t only involve cheering on your favorite team, but is usually an all-day event involving tailgating, drinking and snacking on your favorite ball park foods. I am not going to deny the fun in snacking or enjoying some beers while you cheer on your favorite team, it’s a part of the experience and adds to the excitement.
Solution: This is a tricky one for a couple of reasons. Ball parks typically do not allow you to bring outside food into the arena with you and secondly, the food they offer inside is overpriced and not always health conscious. This is one of those situations where it is okay to indulge (not overindulge) in foods you enjoy.
Sporting events are typically very expensive and it’s not every day you get to attend one. If you never eat hot dogs, treat yourself to one (not 3). Look to see what healthy choices they offer, maybe a grilled chicken sandwich or Cobb salad. If you are tailgating, bring light beer and limit yourself. Pack turkey or chicken burgers to grill along with a salad. The good thing about tailgating is that you can bring your own healthy foods, which will benefit both your waist line and your wallet once you get inside the arena.
Let’s face it, vacations usually cause people to completely kick all healthy habits to the curb because why eat healthy, you’re on vacation! Though you look forward to vacations to get in some much needed R and R and take time away from your busy life, healthy eating doesn’t have to be left at home. It is something you should take with you wherever you go.
Solution: You should without a doubt enjoy and make the most of every minute of your vacation. Restricting yourself from foods you love is something you should never do, even at home. Resorts often have all you can eat buffets, and the same buffet guidelines mentioned above apply here. Keep a balanced plate in mind at all times incorporating all 5 food groups. When you are on vacation you will definitely be eating more and enjoying less healthy foods that you may not eat at home, and that’s okay.
My best advice to you when you are on vacation is to incorporate exercise in your days when you are away. Utilize the beautiful gyms that resorts offer to their guests. Better yet, enjoy the scenery and nature with a morning run on the beach. Plan out activities for your family to explore such as hiking, bike riding, renting scooters to see the town, zip lining, beach volleyball, dancing, or horseback riding. See what your resort has to offer and make the most of your vacation to stay active!
5. Your Spouse or Partner
This is a situation that most people deal with on a daily basis. Your significant other is the person you spend virtually all of your time with, and who you eat meals with every day. However, your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t always on the same page as you are when it comes to healthy eating, and it is easy for their unhealthy habits to end up becoming yours.
Solution: First and foremost, it is important that you have a partner who supports your healthy life changes, and doesn’t do things to sabotage them. It not uncommon for your partner to feel threatened when you lose weight, feeling that now that you look better you may seek attention from other men or women. Reassure your spouse or partner that you love them and that is not the case. Your significant other can be your number one fan or worst enemy when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes. If the person you are with also has unhealthy eating habits, be a team and make these changes together. Be each other’s support system.
If you make healthy eating a part of your lifestyle and don’t restrict yourself by following strict diet plans, you will find it much easier to control your appetite in any situation you are faced with. Always listen to what your body is telling you and remember you are in control of your own health, food or other people do not control you!