We know what it feels like when vendors and/or guests bring you delicious food that you know you shouldn’t be eating. The smell of cookies, brownies, chips and other treats seem to call your name, especially around 3pm. You know the thoughts that can run through our minds: “Well, it’s right there. I need a pick-me-up and this food is free. I might as well have a bite.” And before you know it, one bite would lead up to 100 bites. With that in mind, here are 5 tips on how to avoid jeopardizing your waistline without feeling deprived. No willpower needed.
1. The FREE-GIFT-WITH-PURCHASE Trick
When you go to a department store and they offer you a FREE gift with purchase that you really don’t need, do you still give in just because you don’t have to pay for something? In the end, there is a price we pay for everything and when it comes to free fattening food, what you are really getting as a free bonus is high risk of discomfort, extra weight and health problems. Ask yourself if the food still looks appealing when you know what it will really cost you.
2. The BUDGET Trick
Give yourself an allowance. Just like you watch your monetary budget, do the same with food. Allocate 10% of your food to be simply for pleasure. That means 2 full meals a week or one small 150 calorie snack a day. If it is a 300-calorie cookie that you crave, then have ONE every other day. Don’t jeopardize your budget and go into calorie dept when you don’t have to.
3. The JOY Trick
Sometimes our cravings for free food are simply because we crave the joy of receiving a gift. We want to feel special and worthy of accepting it. In that case, why not spread that joy? Take the food and on your way from work give it to someone who doesn’t have enough to eat, like the homeless, for example. They will be thrilled with the gift and you will get extra rush of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) from making someone else’s day.
4. The EAT-MORE Trick
Look back at your day and remember what you ate. I know from my experience that when I am feeling satisfied with my breakfast and lunch, I don’t have any desire to eat anything else even if it is free and is sitting on my desk. If sweets seem too tempting, that could mean that you didn’t have enough good carbs, protein or healthy fat during the day. In that case, have a snack that is low in sugar but high in protein and good fat, such as hummus with brown-rice crackers or your favorite mixed nuts.
5. The GUILT-FREE Trick
If all fails and you find yourself reaching for the cookie, then make the best out of it. Brew a cup of tea or decaffeinated coffee. Put the dessert on a nice plate. Look at it. Take a deep breath in to feel the aroma. Take a small bite and chew it slowly, feeling every morsel. Take your time and don’t rush. Let go of any guilt and truly savor the food. I believe that if you eat when hungry, eat with awareness and savor the flavor in every bite, then the food will not do the harm it would have if you inhaled it and then felt guilty about it. Remember, guilt and shame actually slow down your digestion!