This is the second in North Raleigh Fitness’, 7-week journey to “Stop Dieting.” If you missed Week 1, you can go back and catch up on “Drinking More Water.” Follow this path, build healthy habits and adopt them into your lifestyle. And, get yourself off the dreaded, rotating wheel of dieting!
Week 2: Clean out your pantry and refrigerator
You might remember last week we talked about drinking more water. By now, you’ve hopefully purchased a new, cool, stainless steel, insulated, crash resistant water bottle that set you back $109. Ok – just a plain old tumbler, some ice and maybe a slice of lemon or cucumber are just as effective. Whichever your drinking vessel, you are likely reading this blog on your phone, as you rush down a well-trodden path to your closest water closet to complete the final step in the hydration life cycle. Think of all the extra daily steps that result from adding ounces of water consumption! Seriously, if you have taken just a small step in consuming more water you probably feel better, are less hungry, and already starting to appreciate the benefits of proper hydration. Now take another sip and we’ll get to our second “end-dieting” strategy.
Of course the next challenge gets a little tougher. That’s because it’s about “taking something away” rather than adding something. Adding, for some reason best known to psychologists, is easier for most people.
Most of us have some “less-than optimal” foods hanging around the house. Their very presence on your pantry shelf leads to unnecessary snacking and renders the calorie burn from this morning’s workout moot. We have to remove the temptation. We must get the Milky Ways, Twinkies, and Doritos out of reach. Get them out of the house. If they aren’t there you won’t eat them. I know, you buy them “for the kids” or “<insert spouse/partner name here>.” But you know that if they are there, you eat them ….sometimes. And sometimes can turn into more than just a little. Those mini snacks of processed food are empty, calorie-dense, nutrition-deficient, foods you don’t need.
Let’s use an example of something almost everyone has in their pantry or cupboard, especially if you have young children. Sugary cereals. Most of these are simply junk food plain and simple. Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops or the like contain roughly 10 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup serving. Even some of those with healthier sounding names: Raisin Bran, Smart Start, Frosted Mini Wheats, Banana Nut Crunch top the 10-gram mark.
Serving size is another important concept here. Studies show that the average American eats 30 percent more cereal than the ¾ standard serving size, and 10 percent of Americans heap more than 2-1/2 times the standard serving size into their over-sized cereal bowls! Think of it like this—in a 12-ounce cereal box there are supposedly 15 servings. Have you ever in your life gotten 15 bowls of cereal from a single box? Probably not. This calculates out to your typical bowl of cereal having 15-20 grams of sugar (not including the milk). You, or your beloved family could be starting your day with as much sugar as you’d get in a can of soda, along with a good amount of fat and sodium.
The same applies to chips, candy bars, cookies, most juice, and of course, soda. You get the idea and we need to get them out of the house. Here is a short list of stuff that needs to go:
- Any kind of chip. I don’t care how healthy the front of the bag says it is, read the nutrition label. I bet it has plenty of sugar, sodium, fat, or both. A small 1-ounce serving can have 160 calories, 250 mg of sodium and 11 grams of fat with zero valuable nutrients. And don’t eat that last handful before it goes in the hefty bag. Close your eyes and chuck them out.
- The aforementioned breakfast cereals, basically any with more than a few grams of sugar. That will be most of them. You can keep the toy surprise!
- White bread. It’s basically birthday cake in a loaf and has virtually no nutritional value.
- Processed pasta. Sorry guys but just like white bread processed pasta has almost no nutritional value. Not to mention that Rigatoni feeds pathogenic yeast in your intestines and inhibit growth of necessary digestive bacteria. So out go the Ramen Noodles!
- Soda. The worst food on the planet. Seriously.
- Candy bars, Pop-Tarts, Twinkies, Ho-Hos, basically anything in a box that is processed or high in sugar or has high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients list.
By now I think you get the idea. Do I expect you to get it all on the first try? No, not a chance. It’s an evolution and over time you’ll progressively dispense of these things and replace them with healthier alternatives. Think one thing at a time if you must. But remember, a typical human can change an eating pattern in about three weeks. So, as you take these items out of your pantry and out of your life, be strong for just 21 days! Eventually you’ll start to lose your desire for theses sugary calorie bombs and replace them with healthier options. Need a healthy snack to tide you over? How about some almonds or a hard-boiled egg. Something before bed? Maybe a bit of non-fat Greek yogurt with a few blueberries. Morning breakfast? Steel cut oats are a great source of fiber if you feel the urge for grains. Have an orange, or some snap peas, or slice a red pepper and keep it in the fridge ready for when you need a snack.
The point here is to remove temptations that are close at hand. If it’s not there you can’t eat it. Get rid of it and don’t buy it again. Start to build a new appetite for healthier options that make you feel better, keep that weight under control, and lead a healthier life. Plus, you’ll have a lot more room in your pantry.