Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Making the right choices can be hard, especially if I have to make hard choices every day. To make it easier on myself I police what is in my environment as much as I am capable. The reason I do this is because, as I mentioned a few days ago, where hunger is concerned the lizard brain is driving and if I am hungry I will eat whatever comes to hand, regardless of what it is (especially if it is tasty – fat and sugar are designed to be tasty to hungry humans for an evolutionary reason). Not exactly a safe way to practice weight management!

I don’t keep unsupportive foods that I can’t stay away from in my home. No cake, no cookies, no donuts, no loaves of sourdough bread. If I find for some reason that I need to eat those things, well, they are terribly easy for me to acquire elsewhere. In fact, in the culture we live in they are practically impossible to avoid! So I don’t need to store them in my home for the future. If I’m hosting a party or a dinner I might have those things in my home for the occasion, but I don’t store leftovers. Yes, I said it, I throw away perfectly fresh baked goods if they are left in my home after a party. Think of it this way – either way they are going to waste. They are going in the garbage, or they are going into my body to make fat, which is wasted energy that I don’t need. I’d rather waste it in the way that doesn’t require me to spend hours at the gym over and above what I already need to do.

But I don’t just remove a bunch of foods and call it good, I also need to do the flip side of the equation – I need to make sure that my kitchen is stocked with lots of foods that are both supportive and tasty. It must be convenient for me to grab the supportive, low-caloric-density foods, and they should be things that I like. Fortunately for me I love almost all fruits and vegetables, so that’s relatively easy, and I keep an emergency stash of frozen, portion-controlled microwave entrees and protein-rich energy bars for days when my planning falls short. I also keep a small stash of backup foods in my office at work.

My husband doesn’t need to follow as strict a regimen as I do, though, so there are going to be foods in my environment that I shouldn’t eat. I have a trick for that too. I put them where I can’t see them. That’s it. It sounds ridiculously simple, but it works, even if I know something is there. Out of sight out of mind does, in fact, work on me. If I can’t see it when I’m doing a fast “OMG HUNGRY” scan through the cupboards, I probably won’t remember it’s there. In the past I have even had roommate situations where we simply designated one cupboard as “Laina’s cupboard” and kept all of “my” food there, so that when I was in an overwhelming hunger state of mind (e.g. just home from work with a longer than usual commute) I could walk straight to my cupboard and pick anything there to eat. This does require a little more behavioral effort on my part – I need to remember and agree with myself that I only go to one place when I’m hungry. But the upside is I can feel happy with my choices once I’ve filled my stomach. No guilt – everything I’ve eaten is A-OK for meeting my goals!

And finally, there have been situations at work wherein the holiday potluck of snacks gets placed near my desk. I have a couple of options to consider for when I perceive that I can’t control the food environment. The first one is to ask that it be moved, which works more often than I expect when I clearly explain where I am coming from. The second option is to make an agreement with myself that I will not eat anything on the table, because once I get started I won’t stop. This works best if I have brought my supportive food from home and can remind myself that I am not, actually, hungry, and that the urges to eat are based on opportunity only, which is not a good excuse to stray off my plan. Another supportive thing I can do is to chew sugar-free gum. If my mouth has something to do, then I am not likely to pick up something to eat. And finally, working from home is occasionally something that I can do – it’s the ultimate environmental control for me, just leaving the challenging environment.


4 Responses to “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

  1. Trystan Says:

    Heh, I love chocolate. My sweetie buys me chocolate at xmas. But for some reason, he has it in his mind that I like dark chocolate — really, really dark chocolate, 70%+ cacao. So he buys me a box of really fancy, expensive bars of this stuff. Truth is, I *HATE* dark chocolate. Tastes like chalk to me. But he’s so kind to seek out the fancy, fair-trade, expensive brand once a year.

    This is the only chocolate we have in the house. I get chocolate cravings regularly. I’m desperate. I go break off a little piece of that dark stuff, I eat it, it feels gross in my mouth & I either spit it out or brush my teeth immediately. And I don’t want chocolate anymore.

    Is my husband actually doing some kind of reverse psychology trick on me or what???

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Guess I have no excuses then since I’m house sitting and pretty much all that’s in the person’s house are Jenny Craig frozen meals. The breakfast one wasn’t bad, but since it was small I planned to grab a protein bar between classes a couple hours later. I, like you, have to actually eat to feel full 🙂

  3. Donna Says:

    goes to waste or waist 🙂

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