The choice to have or not have snacks or extra portions of food, comes down to giving in to our pleasure receptors, or suffering the pain of denying those receptors.  More often than not, the pleasure area of the brain wins.

When I’m told “It’s hard”, I couldn’t agree more.  It is not easy (especially during these long dark evenings) to stop ourselves from gravitating to the fridge or cupboards, looking for some sort of snack. Even as I type this, my emotional mind is thinking about snacks.  Fortunately, I have a greater desire to try and finish this article (and by that time, I’m hoping my snack desire has gone).

The pain I’m referring to is not a physical one, it is an emotional one.  Denying oneself pleasure can feel psychologically painful.  On the other hand, if we can hold off long enough and not have the snack (or dessert, or second helping), we feel good; in control.

Yet, how do I help people help themselves; empower them with the will to say “no” to food?  We need distractions.  Many distractions.  We must find a way to distract ourselves from the thought of food. Distractions have been difficult during these times of Covid-19, since we are at home so much more.  Exercise is the best distraction.  I know many people have pieces of exercise equipment in their house, and it would be so easy to watch a show or listen to a podcast while using some equipment or stretching.  Knitting, sewing, cleaning, walking the dog; anything to keep ourselves occupied with the task at hand rather than succumbing to boredom and the desire to eat.

Also, keep reminding yourself of your ultimate goal.  It’s so very easy to eat something, and say “I’ll be back on track tomorrow”.  Well, tomorrow simply becomes another mindless eating day and we become discouraged.  It seems that no matter how hard we work during the day at eating properly, those night snacks sabotage our efforts.

All of this brings me back to ‘choices’.  We have a choice to eat or not eat.  At some point we must learn to make the choice not to eat (except for the food that is necessary for our health); living in such a land of abundance, it is up to each of us to decide what is important for us.

Also, recognize the triggers. Fatigue is one of the most powerful triggers.  Anxiety, boredom, loneliness and stress are but a few of the others.  Surprisingly the easiest way to conquer these negative emotions is to exercise, but we often fall into the trap of ‘I’m too tired’.  Ten minutes spent walking or doing some strength training will give you energy, not take it away.

This is your health and your body. Try to find a method that works for you to take your mind off the call of food!

You can do it.  It takes time, and often, much frustration; but you can do it. Just never give up on trying again, learning from what didn’t work, and making your own personal choices going forward. You can do it.

Dr. Doug