Battle M&Ms

| June 01, 2010

Eating healthier can happen in small steps

I partook in an epic battle yesterday.

As silly as it may sound, it’s true in a sense, even if it was simply a battle of wills (my will to do something good for myself versus my will to eat chocolate). See, in our offices we have one source for little afternoon pick-me-up snacks: the break room vending machine. Its contents are not unlike that of a truckstop convenience area, with Doritos, Cheez-Its, crackers, gum and a nice variety of my diet’s Kryptonite — chocolate.

The urge hit early in the afternoon, which was not a good sign. I’d neglected to bring any sort of snack from home, and the lure of M&Ms was strong. I could practically smell them. I popped a piece of gum in my mouth and attempted to concentrate on other things.

Three hours of work left, and I’m asking myself why I don’t just give it up already. So what if I’m trying to lose a few pounds? Who cares that I’ve committed, along with my husband, to staying away from overly processed junk food? One little bag of M&Ms won’t hurt.

And there’s the problem. I am the grand justifier. I can figure out a way to let myself off the hook for feeling bad about anything food- or health-related. It’s so easy to let myself think I don’t have time or money to eat healthy or that if I let myself have this bad food today, I’ll start eating well tomorrow, but what it really boils down to is that unhealthy foods are the easiest choice. And, you know, ultimately I’m the one paying the price for those decisions.

So how can I change what seems to be my inherent mind-set? Here are some questions I asked myself as I was pondering whether to visit the snack machine:

1. Are you really even hungry? (The answer, at the time, was no.)

2. Why do you really want this bad food? (For me, 95 percent of my bad eating is emotional eating.)

3. Is feeling bad about this later worth the pleasure this food will bring you now? (As someone who is way too into instant gratification, this is a really tough question for me.)

No matter who you are or what profession you work in, you almost always have a choice when it comes to eating healthy, even if it’s simply a matter of choosing something slightly less fattening or calorie-laden. But the small steps can make a big difference.

As I found, even just taking a few moments to consider what you’re about to consume can help. In many instances, being healthy comes down to mind over matter. Prove to yourself that you’re strong enough to make the right choices.

As for Battle M&Ms: I won.

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