My family is tight. We love spending weekends together, even if by the end of the weekend we are ready to kill each other. My sister is LOUD (but her laugh is part of her charm), my brother finds a way to tease each and every one of us, my mom is the busy bee matriarch running around the house and usually cooking us something awesome, and my dad is usually out in his tractor or the garage so that he doesn’t get sick of us too quick either. Oh right – ME, hahah, well I’m bossy know it all oldest child that insists I’m the favourite and never let’s my little sister forget it 😉
A few weeks ago, all of us drove out to my parents place, with our kids in tow (8 grandchildren for my parents to wrangle), air mattresses packed and excitement in our belly. My parents live in an incredible place surrounded by trees with a view of the mountains. Room for us to do whatever we want, and there is always (and I mean always) a fire burning in the big fire-pit. It’s heaven, and its going to be a sad day when they don’t live there anymore (they are retiring to BC eventually) Something else we also always do when we get out there, is eat junk food. Chips & dip, salsa, meat, cheese, crackers, nuts, chocolate, you name it. And we drink. How can you not sit around a bonfire and not have an adult bevy? Doesn’t happen in our world. Its our routine, its our guilty pleasure and its the way our family hangs. It’s been like this forever, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
I want us to understand that, just because we’re working out, trying to make our diet better, doesn’t mean we have to deny ourselves those tasty treats. We don’t have to give up our bottle of merlot on Saturday night. HOWEVER – we do have to remain aware of how much we are consuming and most of all, how it makes us feel, both physically & emotionally. We just love to sit down with a bag of chips, watch a movie and chow down on the whole bag. What follows this mindless eating, is a downward spiral of guilt, shame, gut rot and lethargy. Here are a few triggers that can cause this scenario:
- Social triggers: Like when you sit around the bonfire with your family and instantly reach for marshmallows, chips & dip, chocolate and adult bevvies (guilty as charged!)
- Emotional triggers: Sadness, excitement, anxiety, boredom, anger, etc. These emotions are powerful triggers for food seeking behavior. These situations are what psychologist call using food as a “soothing mechanism, “ like in the way a child might suck their thumb.
- Situational triggers: Go to a hockey game and you got to get a hot dog or nachos. Go to the movies and you must eat the stale popcorn and M&M’s? Sit down to watch TV and the chips must accompany you. These situational triggers are incredibly common.
If we were to instead of pulling out the entire bag of chips, put a small portion in a bowl, close up the bag and put it away; pour a big bottle of water or a mug of tea; what about doing 20 jumping jacks? It’s amazing at how little effort it can take to make these triggers quiet down and refocus our energy elsewhere. What do we do if we’ve tried everything and we are STILL craving more of the junk? Then we must ask ourself: need more water? Maybe a legit meal? Would a shake with some protein quiet that whisper “one more bowl won’t hurt you”?
It takes practice, and it takes a conscious effort and consistency to notice our habits and routine. We’ve probably been going through the motions of the same routine for YEARS and thus shouldn’t expect to break them overnight. If we put equal effort into acknowledging the cues our body is giving us as we did listening to all the hype in the media, just think of the progress we could make with our fitness goals.