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A special guest post from Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RD, LD
Recently, I read a story by Gregg about his struggle to tame his desire for one of my favorite foods, peanut butter. As is his style, he shared with great honesty the challenge it was for him to control his eating of the sticky delicious spread. It made me want to share some ideas for controlling portions and tips on how reframing how we think about a food can change how we treat it. I hope these tips will provide you with some tools for your toolbox in maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy life.
It’s just food. Remember, food isn’t “good” or “bad.” You may feel like they are out to get you, but the truth is that feelings aren’t facts. You are in charge and have the ability to control what you put in your body. Yet, there’s no need to carry around shame about what you’ve already eaten. Take each eating opportunity as a fresh start to do it right-er.
Know how to spot a single-serve portion. If you buy tempting foods in larger containers, separate them into smaller ones. Measure or weigh out the portions, since sometimes what we think is a serving, really isn’t. Alternatively, buy single-serve or pre-packaged foods that can help make it easier to control the amount you eat. For instance, peanut butter can be purchased in single-serve to-go style squeeze packets – perfect for tossing in your bag with some rice cakes for an afternoon snack, squeezing right onto an apple, or making that perfectly portioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Save that food for eating out or special occasions and get the smallest size offered. My treat food is fried potatoes. Seriously. I love really good French fries, crispy hashbrowns and potato chips. I almost never have these at home, where I eat >70% of my meals. Instead, these are a treat food that I have occasionally when I eat out with friends or for date night. By enjoying this food outside the house, I’m not tempted to eat it more often than I should.
Do distraction. When you’re feeling the tug, it’s time to do something else. Try drinking a glass of water, taking a walk, or calling a friend. Taking your mind off of the food and nourishing some other part of you – thirst, physical activity, or connection – may be just enough space to reduce the temptation or eliminate it completely.
Pay attention. When you do eat the foods you love, be present. Usually, the first few bites are the best. Take time to savor them and enjoy them. Don’t eat (at all if possible, but especially special foods) when you’re doing something else, such as typing at your desk, driving your car, or anything else that requires most of your attention. When you are more mindful of the food you eat, you eat much less.
Now, as far as the peanut butter goes, I can’t leave you without some thoughts on that one. Peanut butter is a wonderfully versatile and flavorful food. It’s also nutritious! Unlike my fried potatoes, which have far less to offer in that area, peanut butter provides protein, fiber, mostly good fats, and 30 vitamins and nutrients. It can be used in everything from my favorite PB&B (banana) sandwich to homemade breakfast peanut crunch bars, or a spicy peanut dipping sauce for lean grilled chicken skewers. Peanuts have more protein than any nut and are a deliciously satisfying food to enjoy. Check out our website at www.nationalpeanutboard.org for more ideas.
About the Author: Sherry Coleman Collins is a registered and licensed dietitian practicing in the Atlanta, GA area. Her love of food and nutrition has allowed her to work with individuals and groups, children and adults of all ages, and in a variety of settings from clinical to foodservice to communications. She currently serves as senior manager, marketing and communications for the National Peanut Board. Connect with America’s peanut farmers via Facebook and Twitter. Follow Sherry on Twitter at @PeanutRD.
One of the beautiful things about being in touch with readers and fellow (and female!) dieters like you is that when it comes to inspiration, it’s definitely a two-way street. I am always motivated and inspired by the people I hear from – whether they’re facing a challenge or sharing a success story.
I recently received an email from 17-year old Trisha and was filled with said inspiration. After reading (and re-reading) her words of triumph, I quickly contacted her to see if she would mind me sharing her wonderful and inspiring words with you. And I’m happy to report that she was more than happy to share her story with others. So without further ado, here’s the email I received from Trisha:
“You are such an inspiration! You gave me hope that I could get healthy, too. I’m 17 years old, and as of December 1st, I was 437 pounds. Today is March 1st, just 3 months later, and I am now 377! 60 POUNDS GONE IN 3 MONTHS! All from eating less and only eating healthy foods, and exercise. Not even any crazy work out plans! Just walking every evening. I never could have done any of this if I hadn’t heard your story and been inspired. I plan on continuing this path to getting healthy, and maybe someday I can do for someone what you have done for me. Thank you so much!”
Besides having an attitude that shines bright, I love that Trisha has put together a plan that is working for her (and her lifestyle) – while incorporation the basic tenants of losing weight in a healthful fashion:
• Eating Less
• Moving (Exercising) More
• Getting Plenty of Rest
• Drinking Lots of Water
Trisha is a reminder to us all that any goal can be reached – and that the “end goal” isn’t necessarily what it’s all about. Whether we’ve lost a half pound or more of excess weight, that number (and triumph) is worth celebrating – no matter how many more pounds-to-lose we have ahead of us. It’s all about living in the now, loving ourselves as we are in this moment and enjoying the journey toward lasting health.
Do you have a success story, pictures or even a challenge that you’d like to share or have me respond to publicly? If so, please reach out and tell me – no, tell us – your story. Whether we’re working to lose the excess weight or working to keep the excess weight we’ve lost off permanently, we’re all in this together.
(Thanks again, Trisha! Please continue to keep us posted on your journey and know that we’re all behind you every step of – and pound on – the way!)