Getting Back on Track Part 1

The train track at Ecser Magyar: A vasúti síne...

Let's Get Back on Track

One Slip Doesn’t Mean You’re Sunk

All of us go through periods where we “fall off the wagon”. For whatever reason, a bad day, extra stress, holiday food temptations, tired of the same old food, premenstrual cravings, etc. etc. etc. You name it. Our lives are loaded with mine fields of temptations. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t give into them occasionally!

The fall from grace

In this article I want to address that occasional fall from grace and how to keep from being sucked into the whirlwind of the downward spiral into old habits, weight gain and giving up. The problem is usually not the slip up but the sequence of things that follow both on a physical level and a psychological level. And which came first? It’s the old chicken or the egg question.

The two components are so closely tied that it’s hard to separate them. But Let’s look at what happens physically first. If you think about what you ate the last time you “slipped up”, you’ll see that it probably wasn’t veggies or fruit or protein right? I’m guessing it was with something like chips or cake or candy or pizza. In other words – some kind of carbohydrate. And more often it’s a refined carb – white sugar/white flour. Am I guessing correctly so far?

Our body’s reaction to carbs

Whether the food you chose was a sugary type substance or a tasty salty carb, they both have the same effect physiologically. Our bodies will immediately turn a simple carbohydrate to sugar. Our bodies react to that carb turned sugar with a boost of energy and a euphoria similar to cocaine. There is now research showing that the same area of the brain that lights up with a little cocaine is the same part that lights up with sugar. Our body sends signals to raise the insulin levels to keep the sugar level down. As the sugar levels drop so does our energy and euphoria, so we need another “fix”.

Our irrational mind

While THAT’S going on our irrational mind starts going “OMG I just blew it!, that’s it, I’ve totally gone off my eating plan (or diet). Just forget it, I probably just gained back 5 pounds in 15 minutes! What’s the use, I may as well just let it go today and try to get back on track tomorrow.” AND at the same time your little gremlin (that nasty little voice in your head that loves to harass you) kicks in and starts telling you how pathetic you are, that you can’t do anything right, you’re a loser. He reminds you that you have no willpower and are totally worthless and are the worst human being on the face of this planet! At least that’s what mine says.

Does that all sound familiar? One small slip up becomes the most monumental unforgivable mistake you have ever made. Your body, mind, and spirit are all lined up to condemn you and make you pay! Does it have to be like that? No. So, what can we do?

Avoiding the all out binge

First of all, it would be nice if it never happened, but let’s get real here, it’s going to happen sometimes. It’s good to realize what’s happening and why it’s happening. Here’ are some of my strategies for avoiding an all out day long, week long or month long binge.

  1. As soon as I know I’m about to eat something not on the plan, I pause. See if I can pinpoint what triggered this craving. That’s good information and a good habit to get into – identifying your trigger. 
  2. Then I make a conscious decision to have it or not. No judgement of good or bad, I just make it a conscious decision.
  3. If I decide to have it, I have the best.  For example, if I decide I really need a piece of candy, I have to get in my car and drive to a local chocolate shop because I can’t keep candy in the house. This shop has high quality and very tasty and very expensive chocolate. Something I can’t afford to do very often. So I spend a couple bucks on a couple pieces of “to die for” chocolate about the size of a thimble, then enjoy the heck out of it, and savor each bite.
  4. Now the real work begins. Time for some heavy self-talk. I tell myself that this was totally okay, that I can enjoy something off the list every once in a while, that I am human. I tell myslef it’s not a slip but a 2 minute, 20 minute, or 2 hour time out. I remind myself that this doesn’t have to turn into a full blown eating frenzy. I work at staying conscious and rational and DO NOT get down on myself.
  5. When my gremlin shows up I tell him to get lost. I usually yell at her/it/him and say that I refuse to listen and either start humming a song or visualize locking this creature in sound proof titanium box.
  6. I try my very best to just eat healthy the rest of the day. I don’t think quantity so much as quality. It may not be perfect the rest of that day as I try to find my balance again, but I’m very understanding with myself. 
  7. The next day I eat only veggies and or lean protein – mostly green veggies and as much as I want, with a good dollop of good fats added in – a whole avocado in my salad with some olive oil & vinegar dressing. Or I sauté my veggies in a healthy spoonful of olive oil or coconut oil. The veggies help reset my tastes and cravings dramatically, and the good fats help me feel satiated and satisfied.

Resetting the tastebuds and cravings

The other thing you can do to reset your cravings is to do a one day water fast or possibly protein shake day. You have to watch out for the protein drinks though because if they sweet at all they won’t help cut the cravings and may in fact increase them. These little tricks work for me. That’s not to say they are perfect or will work for you. Do you have any special tricks or tips that work for you?

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