Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week 9: Two for One Special

As we were reviewing our "food cues" in class this week, people offered up their personal triggers for spontaneous eating: commercials on TV, eating while watching TV, aromas (movie house popcorn anyone?), eating what's close (counters, refrigerators, drawers), habits like eating while driving or cooking, or shopping while hungry.

The last and I mean LAST cue that people listed was "hungry". I eat because I'm hungry. Such is the life of the comfortable American consumer.

How do we counteract the multiple "food messages" in our day? How do we eat when we're hungry and not because we're bored, anxious, need to stretch, need a drink, or need comfort?

As we learned, a lot of it is self-determination; setting yourself and your family up for success is a big part of achieving healthy eating habits. Don't bring home junk food. Substitute fresh fruits and veggies (prep when you get home for easy grabbing)for easy to grab chips, crackers and cookies. If you have snack favorites, put them in cupboards, so the visual cues are absent. Substitute whenever possible. Count and measure the portions.

As for me, I love cheese and crackers. Cheese and anything(crackers, fruit, pasta, meat, wine...) really just floats my boat. Usually I would have a slab of Tillamook (extra sharp), cut to size with a handful or two of wheat thins. Now, since learning about the importance of portion control, I have laughing cow wedges with low-fat wheat thins (I can measure both with ease while prepping dinner). I get a much needed snack after work, give my body some nutrition, and avoid binging, or as I call it, "plowing".

Other things that can minimize "mindless eating" include: eat at the table, with the TV OFF, and sitting down. Eat a meal before going to the movies so that you're not hungry (therefore more able to make good decisions about what should touch the lips). Share or split high-fat food items. Pack snacks with you. Drink plenty of water (in the US, many people substitute food for hydration).

For me, I've learned that if I keep two apples in my purse or backpack, I have a satisfying snack anytime I have an attack. This is a significant change for me. I often do not have predictable breaks or lunch hours. Being able to "wait" until the assigned meal time made me prone to scarfing anything in reach when I hit the kitchen door. Chips, cheese, milk, yesterday's name it. By having apples near me, which are both sweet and crunchy, I find, that even if I must consume them both before lunch, or dinner (I do repack if necessary), I have saved myself between 200-400 of the calories I would have otherwise consumed (and all of the fat) from easy to find and eat candy-bars (Snickers is my favorite!). As I write at 4.30 in the afternoon, I am munching an apple and drinking coffee. I should probably grab some water.

I also keep apples and oranges on my table at home (as opposed to the crisper in the refrigerator), within sight of everyone. Of note, it is the kids who have taken the most advantage of this easy access point.

The two for one special? What I found intriguing was that, as I was reading about ways to save money on my grocery bill this week, the advice was similar to how to avoid unhealthy eating habits: when shopping make a plan, write a list, eat a meal, and stick to the list.

So, dear reader, in this week of festivities and feasting, think of your wallet as well as your waist as you choose your foods wisely. Bon Appetite and Bon Chance!

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