Sticking to a Healthy Lifestyle in a World Full of Cake, Pasta and Cheese
I'm an Italian American; my first words were cheese, pasta and cuccidati (Italian for Cookies. I was advanced). I literally baked for a living. I used to play a game..."Try to name one food that wouldn't be better with either chocolate or cheese." See! You can't. It's an unfair game (Cheese on filet mignon is a thing). But living with an autoimmune disease with definite food triggers and dealing with the pain, I've had to give these things up. And it hasn't been easy.
As my husband always reminds me,“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change" (thanks Tony Robbins). So basically, if you want something different, you HAVE TO do something different. When my autoimmune disease started to get the best of me, as did my acne and asthma, I would've tried anything. And I did. I tried crazy diets and crazier medications. And they didn't work. So when I finally found relief from a diet, I did everything I could to stick to it. I saw the results and I had the proof so I committed. I admit, it's still challenging. You see, the good thing about the Paleo/Keto type diet that I follow is that it makes me feel amazing. The bad part about it is that when I feel amazing my brain tricks me into thinking I can go back to the old way. Not the case. So how do I control the cravings? I've got a few tricks up my sleeve.
For starters, I just don't buy the "offenders" at the grocery store. I make a list and stick to it. I buy staples (cruciferous veggies, greens, avocados, grass fed/wild caught animal proteins). If it's not in my home, I cannot eat it. I'll admit, this is easier said than done when living with someone who enjoys the occasional bag of chips, girl scout cookie, Ben and Jerry's, etc. So what do we do with Rob's (my husband) treats? We hide them. We store them in a cabinet that I never go into. Out of sight, out of mind. And it works for me.
In addition, I kick the sugar cravings via detox. I just quit, cold turkey. There's no "eat sugar in moderation." That DOES NOT work for me when I am feeling the glorious addictive, drug-like effects of sugar. I do it for three days without any fruits or starchy veggies and then after that, I will add in a small quantity of starchy veggies and low sugar fruit (berries mostly). When I do eat starchy veggies or fruit, I make sure to combine them with a high "good" fat food such as full-fat coconut milk or an avocado as to not spike my blood sugar.
Another thing that helps is I try to limit stress. All I want to do when I'm stressed or tired is eat. So I exercise daily. I pray and follow the command to "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)". And, I make sure I am getting outdoors for a good bit every single day. Oh, and deep breathing as needed (I knew those Social Work techniques would come in handy one day).
You gotta be prepared! Go to the store with a list and STICK TO IT. Meal Prep at the beginning of the week, including healthy snacks (nuts, veggies, Epic Bars, Primal Kitchen Bars are my go to snacks). Make sure you are eating enough. You will fail if you are still hungry. If you need to, throw away all the candy in the house... Your kids and partner DO NOT NEED IT EITHER. If it's in your face at work (which it always is), avoid that area or hide it from your sight. Bye, breakroom. If you know you are going somewhere that will have all the delicious bad things, eat beforehand and bring snacks for backup (Baby/Bridal Showers are the worst!).
Set measurable goals. Reward yourself when you stick to them, with what motivates you, just don't let the offender be your motivator. Chew gum... it's very helpful for me. Not the aspartame variety. I get Xylitol gum which holds it's flavor for a good 30 seconds but it still helps.
Finally, if you do eat a big piece of cake, which you will at some point, don't get mad at yourself. Because you're human and not a robot and cake is delicious. Just try to do your best and jump back on that healthy delicious food train.
Truthfully, the biggest motivator for me is having a WHY. I do it so my body doesn't attack itself. I do it so I don't live with achy joints and burning eyes. I truly believe you have to have a WHY for change. Be it weight loss, arthritis, physical stamina, chronic disease, the WHY should be your motivator. What's your WHY?
PS... One more thing, make your food diverse and pretty with lots of colors. Eating beautiful creations can be so satisfying not only to the taste but also to the creative spirit.