Weight Watchers is a fantastic plan for those of us who value our favorite unhealthy foods greatly and do not want to give them up entirely. While I have a strong desire to eat perfectly (e.g. eating primarily vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats in small quantities and at set times in the day or only when hungry) all of the time, I have developed a number of uses for food that have become habits. They are as follows:
-Eating in order to reduce my boredom or stave of returning to or starting work
-Eating in order to improve my mood
-Treating myself to an “unhealthy” treat for accomplishing goals
-Treating myself to an “unhealthy” food, because we all deserve to spoil ourselves sometimes
-Eating late at night while I watch television or a movie with my partner in order to keep my hands busy
-Eating in order to take a break from work and spend some one-on-one time with my partner
-Eating all of my food in order to prevent being hungry later
-Using alcohol to draw a clear line between work and play
I know that I need to learn to break these habits and “eat to live” rather than “live to eat.” This includes eating less frequently, eating less quantity, and introducing more variety and nutrition into my daily diet, rather than my developed habit of focusing on sugary and fried foods, as well as booze. I have also worked and will continue to work to discover more healthy, low-point foods that feel like cheating, such as Thai fresh rolls with veggies and tofu (2 points) and a variety of salads, like cobb salad (8 points).
I must also refocus what I consider to be treats on more healthy foods. For a while, I attempted to treat myself with sushi, but this was an expensive endeavor, since I treat myself up to or exceeding once a day. Currently, I am attempting to refocus on treating myself with a boba tea (6-12 points) instead of a Four Loko (~20 points) tallboy or with mango and sticky rice (5 points) instead of an Oreo shake from Jack in the Box (17 points). I hope to wean myself off of the need to reward myself with food altogether, but I don’t think cold turkey would create a sustainable change in behavior.
However, this is all easier said than done, since it takes a concerted and consistent effort to remind myself of my motivations and correct behaviors every time I get an urge to eat. I also struggle with overcompensating for denying myself the food I am craving by eating whatever is on hand and eating for an extended period of time or until I am over-full.
The following is a list of strategies that I will use to reprogram my eating habits:
-Actively place a higher value on delicious healthy foods while devaluing fatty, overly sweet, fried, and processed foods
-Disassociate certain activities, such as watching TV, from food by segregating the process of eating from those activities
-Find and utilize non-food rewards, such as getting a massage, taking an evening off of work, or going surfing
-Prevent overeating, particularly of unhealthy foods, by throwing away, packing up, or putting hot sauce on half of my food
-Attempt to select the healthier options and track and assess every bit of food before consuming it (e.g., not consuming food mindlessly)
-Eat more slowly and carefully and consume more water and vegetables before and during each meal to prevent overeating
-Dipping food into sauces and dressings rather than pouring them over the top to reduce calorie consumption