I have to reply after seeing this post for a few days.
Self control is not something that I think people are lacking. I have lost 140 lbs, and could say I have good self control. However I did this by avoiding sugary/starchy foods ( carbs ). I get my carbs from vegetables. Most important though is the avoidance of the sugary/starchy foods.
I go along losing 2-3 lbs a week, doing great, the picture of self-control. Then I will have a few too many carbs, maybe a slice of pizza, and I am starving, and eating poorly. I do use the self control to get back on track, but once I am eating on plan, I am never hungry, and just eat what is on my tracker. meanwhile if I eat one slice of pizza, I have NO self control, until after I binge, and feel bad.
My point is, that this lack of self control we often think we suffer from is the foods we " cheat " on. By eating small amounts of these foods, we tend to want to eat more. That isn't a lack of self-control. Something in THOSE foods are a problem for you. If you can avoid certain foods, and NEVER be hungry, and then have a serving of those foods, and be ravenous, then it has nothing to do with self control. It has to do with those foods.
I actually do what you described. I have a huge bar of dark chocolate at my office and I came to learn eating only 3 pieces (about 10g) at once. That translated into portion controlling and binge prevention. Now just a slice, bite, piece of treat is enough to satisfy me.
HOWEVER, if you cannot empathize with what I will describe below, or have a tendency to overeat (even the slightest), I would not recommend doing this. Here is the story of why I tried intentional temptation method (that's just a name for the sake of reference)
I live abroad with 4 coworkers. That makes 4 not-so-health-conscious people who constantly have treats at home. I do not like the idea of asking them to change how they eat or what they bring home just because I watch what I eat. Therefore, I decided to deliberately teach myself how to avoid constant temptation or enjoy it in moderation when occasions require. I never went to masochistic on myself, but it took serious will power and determination.
If you are still willing to stick to this, here are some tips for enjoying what you eat and for stopping when you want to stop:
1- Eat very slowly: The longer you eat your treat, the more satisfied you get. This decreases the urge to eat more. 2- Plan your treats: Make sure you have incorporated the nutritional information into your tracker before hand. That way, you can also plan your remaining calories accordingly and avoid the guilt of exceeding your daily limits. 3 - Drink water between every piece, bite etc. or when you eat the amount you aimed for: When you continue to feel the taste of the treat, that reminds you how delicious what you eat is and you tend to eat more. Water removes that persistent reminiscence and it is easier to stop.
Hope these help! Just don't forget that - like the other posters have said - you are already practicing self-control.
I agree with a previous poster that you're already exercising self-control, just on the front end as opposed to having to deal with it later. Which is GREAT. It still takes effort to say the day before "I'm going to get my lunch packed for tomorrow" as opposed to waiting until tomorrow and all your friends are getting fast food.
I don't know that "practicing" is really the way to go about your plan. If it were me, it sounds like a set up for failure (stocking the house with junk food? Just to say no?) I think asking yourself if you legitimately want something helps a lot in the situations you mentioned. You're at a BBQ - you really do want some ribs because they're not something you could have any time, but you don't really want the chips (which you could always have another time).
Keep being proactive. For me, it has been how I've been most successful at self-control.
"While I am very proactive about keeping healthy choices around and setting myself up for success, I feel like I am "cheating" myself out of self control"
It takes self control to do this. It takes self control to not pick up the phone and order takeout. Or not go out for lunch instead of eating what you packed. It takes self control to plan, choose and prepare healthy food and exercise. It takes self control to not go down the junk food aisle. Or to go down that aisle and not buy anything. Or to run the checkout gauntlet and not cave to individually wrapped temptation.
Everything you've done involves self control. You just need to give yourself credit for it.
Fitness Minutes: (3,530)
337 7/23/13 11:48 A
Only you have the power to control your mind. When I see 2 dozen Dunkin Donuts at work, in my mind I hear "You are what you eat" and I skip em! I have my black sm coffee, and maybe banana, and think about how I DONT want my body to turn into a Donut!.. You Can do it.. Your mind is powerful stuff...
Fitness Minutes: (6,289)
234 7/19/13 3:29 P
As others have said, there's no reason to put yourself through all that. Self-control is learned through habit, and avoiding temptation when you have the option to expose yourself to it, like in the grocery store, IS part of self-control. And don't feel like you can't occasionally have less healthy options, and that if you do have those sometimes, it shows a lack of self-control. If you are truly making a healthy lifestyle change, you can have treats sometimes! That's what makes it sustainable for the long haul. So occasionally eating at Taco Bell with your friends is not bad, and you should try not to beat yourself up for it. Heck, I ate Zaxby's the other day! I split my meal and had half the next day, but the calories were still outrageous. I shrugged it off. I rarely eat fried things anymore, mostly because I rarely crave them anymore. I'm certainly not going to deprive myself of them if I really, truly want them now, because I'm trying to sustain this lifestyle for the long haul.
If you love M&M's, but have a hard time not eating several servings with the big bag being there, try dividing it up into single-serve portions the moment you get home from the store. Snack-size Ziploc baggies are great for this. Then you can easily grab one serving out of the pantry and walk away with it. I love dark chocolate, and I make sure to always have it at the house. I keep a bag of Dove Promises on my mini fridge in my bedroom, as well as one of my favorite dark chocolate toffee bars in the fridge. I used to scarf them down... Now I can easily satisfy myself with one or two Promises, or a square of that toffee bar and a glass of milk. I don't consider having it there and not eating the whole bag a demonstration of my self-control, however. I have just developed a healthy relationship with food. I no longer eat when I'm not hungry (which is a HUGE achievement for me, as I have spent most of my life as an emotional eater), and I tend to crave healthier options most of the time now. And I focus on savoring every bit of treats when I have them, so I am satisfied much faster than I used to be, when I would eat without really paying attention to what I was eating. For example, I also love honey roasted nuts, and would eat tons of them because I would toss many in my mouth at one time. Now I measure out an ounce, eat one at a time, and chew them slowly, and I am usually satisfied by the time I am done.
Fitness Minutes: (8,081)
105 7/19/13 1:57 P
Wow, I agree with a PP that this behavior sounds a little OCD, and quite frankly cruel. Why put yourself through that? Instead, use your mind for good. For example, you know that your friends are going to invite you out. Decide ahead of time what you're going to get (or not get) and stick to the plan. That is discipline and having integrity. Remember, just because your friends eat doesn't mean you have to. Become the life of the party and enjoy the company. Laughing burns calories, and you won't regret the extra calories you didn't want to eat in the first place.
If you know that you can't resist the 20 M&Ms, don't buy them. If they're in your daily environment where you don't have control (such as a co-worker's desk), decide ahead of time that you don't want them. When you've already decided, you've done most of the work.
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
1,236 7/19/13 1:50 P
I think that planning appropriately to avoid the worst triggers, keep healthy options around for you when needed, and minimize temptations *is* "teaching yourself self-control". It's just self-control on a more extended time frame, setting yourself up for success.
Look at any really fit people/ healthy eaters you might know. Do they always avoid the candy bowl at work? Do they always refuse desert, second helpings, or a reach into the community bag of chips? Some probably do, others don't. And let me tell you, the ones that do, it's not because they're fighting massive amounts of temptation and winning, every single time. It's because they don't actually feel any temptation. Their taste buds are not accustomed to junk food, their bodies don't expect it -- it's just not overwhelmingly appealing. And habit does the rest. You stop yourself from reaching into the candy bowl the first 20 times, and probably on the 21st it doesn't even occur to you anymore. You barely even notice it. This is how it's worked for me. IMO willpower is over-rated, and the trick is to structure your life such that most of the time you don't even need it.
For situations when you do need it (when habits are not yet formed, or in unusual situations), then I believe it best just to stay as conscious as possible of what you are doing so you can make appropriate choices with a clear mind.
If you're still in school, I would recommend going to the counseling center and talking to someone about these feelings. They sound borderline OCD/eating disorder, frankly. Girls who are anorexic and bulimic don't actually start the behaviors in order to lose weight; they do it to prove their self-control. I'm not saying that you have a disorder, but you're talking like someone who does. This is exactly how it starts, and you might need an outside voice to help you sort through what's a lack of self-control and what's just normal behavior.
I think you're doing really well with self control. You've lost 40 lbs according to your tracker. Setting yourself up for success the way that you have been doing is actually you practicing self control. It takes self control to not go down the candy/chip aisle in the store. So, I think you should be proud of that.
I think that the problem is that you, like everyone, is successful in practicing self-control up to a certain point and, at that point (in situations like when you are confronted with your trigger foods or when you are eating out) you don't have enough self control and go overboard.
So, I understand why you want to challenge yourself by placing yourself in situations where you have to exert more self-control than you normally would be able to do. But, I would say be careful not to set yourself up for failure and to make sure that you treat yourself kindly. It's kind of a negative thing to give yourself something (e.g. put 20 M&Ms on a plate, two servings of soup) and then take it away from yourself (put 10 back, pour half back). A more positive approach would be to only take 10 candies from the dish in the first place or to only serve yourself one serving of soup. A positive way to practice portion control in a restaurant is to ask the server to bring a box with your meal and then box up half of it (so you can take it home for a different meal or so you could give it to someone else right then) and then start eating your meal (the remaining half) that is on your plate. I wouldn't leave it on my plate and make myself stop eating at 1/4 or 1/3 and give it away at that point. If you box it up beforehand, it is a more positive way to practice portion control at a restaurant. If you make cookies, eat one or two. Give some away to others in the house. Bag up the rest and put them in the freezer as soon as they are cool. Then, have one every other day with your dinner or lunch. Bring everyone else's snacks forward if you are ready for that, but give them their own space in the cabinet and leave your snacks readily visible where you can see them and get to them easily. Don't make yourself reach through the unhealthy snacks to get your healthy snacks. That's a kind of negative thing to do to yourself and a good way to set yourself up for failure.
Also, don't make things harder than you are ready for them to be. Avoidance of temptation is a valid strategy. I do it all the time! I just don't go down the chip/candy aisle. I bake rarely. Unhealthy snacks in my house...yes, they are here, but they have their own little bin in the cupboard and you have to walk further into the cupboard (past the healthy snacks and healthy foods) to get to them.
Oof, I cringe at the thought of putting myself up for that much stress. Maybe it can work for you or others, but a "teaching regime" like that would have me weeping in no time flat. I simply cannot approach this as a battleground "me vs food."
I find my life much simpler if I simply "avoid temptation." I don't even drive my grocery cart down the junk aisles, let alone bring large portions of junk into the house with or without intent to "ration" or "give away." I am certain that if I did this, the frequency of times in which i "lost the battle to the tempting food" would be much much higher than i currently experience with my "out of sight, out of mind" approach.
Sometimes I am unwillingly drawn into these battlefields (most notorious war zone is my office lunchroom). Navigating successfully through these battles-that-were-not-of-my-choosing is practice enough for me!
I guess that is part of it too, but anytime I DO end up in a situation, it ends up going poorly. Parties, BBQs, when friends order dessert and decide to share it, things like that. I would never decide on my own to go to taco bell, but when all my friends do, and they are all getting something, I end up going along with what they do. Yes, I get the healthier choices, (fresco taco), but I really didn't need the extra 180 calories.
Fitness Minutes: (2,119)
396 7/19/13 11:27 A
I practice self control by not buying the unhealthy things. And by avoiding the center aisles of the store. And by not ordering dessert. lol.
While I am very proactive about keeping healthy choices around and setting myself up for success, I feel like I am "cheating" myself out of self control. This is a purely personal opinion and I am not suggesting anyone else should feel this way or do what I am doing.
I try really hard to take correct portion sizes, avoid grocery aisle with unhealthy foods, identify trigger foods, etc. But I've noticed that any time I am in a situation that requires self control, I end up having a problem. When I had more weight to lose, this wasn't an issue, but since it's getting less and less, I need to be more diligent. It isn't working anymore.
So I had this crazy idea to try to teach myself self control. For example: Buy a large, and only eat 1/4-1/3 of it and give the rest of someone else. Put 20 M&Ms on my plate, eat 10, and put the rest back. Make something intentionally unhealthy so I can only eat one cookie instead of four. Put two servings of soup in my bowl and pour the rest back. Put unhealthy snacks (I live with others, which is why I have them) in the front of the cabinet and fridge, and healthy ones in the back.
Is this idea totally crazy? Has anyone else done something like this?
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