Friday, June 15, 2012

Changed Thinking About Food

Is everything in my life now sunshine and roses because of my weight loss efforts so far?  Nope, I can’t say that it is, but by making healthy changes, I’m better equipped to function and handle each and every day.  I have the strength, stamina, and endurance for whatever comes my way, and the exercise helps me reduce stress and sleep better.  I have to say that making strides towards a healthy weight has brought nothing but benefits to my life!

There have been challenges I’ve faced in this process through this year though.  The biggest, I believe, has been in changing the way I think about food and getting a grip on how my thoughts and actions are so inter-connected.  Getting my mindset aligned with good nutrition and proper serving sizes has definitely has been the hardest part.  Once I got it, though, I really got it! Because I do eat in restaurants a couple of times each week, let me use that to give you an example…

In the past (old habit days), when I would eat at a restaurant, I would immediately scan the menu, looking to see what I could order that gave me the best value for my money, while filling my taste for rich, savory, “comfort” foods.  I wanted to make sure I got the most for my food dollars.  That typically resulted in some kind of deep-fried meat, with gravy, and two or three side items (can you say “macaroni & cheese” and “french fries”!) and some kind of bread basket, which I admittedly allowed to waiter to refill. 

Now, however, I go straight to the light or low-calorie section of the menu, looking for grilled meats and steamed vegetables (which I order to be prepared without butter or oils).  I occasionally have a piece of bread, but limit myself to one, and have the waiter take away the basket and skip the refills.  Instead of trying to get the most food for my money, now I’m trying to get the lowest calories and healthiest choice for my money!

Interestingly enough, it did not take a long time for me to implement this changed way of thinking.  Once I decided enough was enough (literally!) there was no looking back.  Initially, it was difficult.  I had to make the healthy choices whether I felt like it or not.  I had to force myself smile while I ordered the steamed vegetable medley instead of the loaded potato.  It was hard to pass up the dessert menu when the rest of the table was ordering cheesecake.  However, when the meal was over, I left the table physically full and satisfied from good foods, but more importantly, I felt empowered because for the first time in my life, I had control over food, rather than letting it have control over me! 

After just a few weeks, I no longer felt the tug-of-war between what I wanted to order and what I knew I needed to order.  Not only had my thinking and my actions changed, but I found that my tastes had completely changed as well!  I can honestly say that I really don’t crave the foods I used to eat anymore and it doesn't bother me in the least when others around me are eating high-calorie indulgences.

So, if you’re trying to make your own healthy choices, I would tell you that making a drastic change IS possible, but only if you change how you think about your food.  If you think about healthy food as the enemy, like it’s keeping you from what you really want to eat, or there’s no way you could possibly enjoy it, then you’ll have a long, hard road ahead of you.  If, however, you choose to remind yourself that you’re worth treating your body well, commit to making healthy choices, and start seeing good foods as your friend instead of your enemy, you’ll set yourself up for success!

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