Spring Break is behind us, but many women are probably still
dreading thinking about getting into a swimsuit this summer. When we start feeling the warm air of spring and thinking about summer trips to the lake or pool, a lot of people start thinking about dieting. When I think about dieting, I immediately start thinking of all the foods and treats that I love, but shouldn’t eat. As soon as I mentally restrict myself, my cravings ramp up! It’s a mental thing that says “I want it because you told me I can’t have it.” It is really hard to overcome, and I would guess that it is also pretty common. I would guess that it’s common because diets don’t work. Why do diets not work? Because when we restrict our caloric intake, or when we go cold turkey on our favorite treats, we break and binge.
I have a little tip that I think will help: Instead of focusing on the foods you can’t have, think about adding in the things that you need. Don’t tell yourself that cookies are the root of all evil and throw them all out. Just make yourself a promise that you will eat 5 servings of vegetables per day. The USDA currently recommends 3-5, so just go with the upper recommendation on this one. It will not be easy every day. In fact, some days will be difficult. But when you fill your body with good foods, you won’t be hungry. If you’re not hungry, your cravings will loosen their grip on you.
I have pretty much zero willpower once I’ve been told (or told myself) that I can’t have something sweet. What I’m good at is waiting until a specified time. I won’t wait indefinitely, but if I tell myself “you can have that later tonight, after the kids are in bed,” I have no problem waiting until then. So, what I do is this: I set myself a small daily goal. It usually involves eating enough fruits and vegetables. I try to eat 4 veggies and 2 fruits each day. I also try to get 30 minutes of sweaty exercise a day. I call it sweaty exercise because everyone has their own fitness level, and everyone has their own favorite activities. Gardening is exercise, but it’s not sweaty exercise. Walking at a leisurely pace is not sweaty exercise, but running or walking at my own max of a brisk pace is sweaty exercise. I tell myself that if I reach my two goals and do not indulge in junk food during the day, I can have a nice piece of chocolate before bed. This method typically works for me. I am able to control myself and my cravings by adding in the good and waiting for my treat.
Here’s the treat I like to have: I take a 12 ounce bar of good quality dark chocolate and I melt it in a double boiler. Then I chop up some dried cherries and pistachios, and mix them into the melted chocolate. I spread the chocolate mixture out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and let it set up. Then I cut it into approximately 1 ounce pieces. It is so good!