Staying on Track: Instant Gratification vs.Long-Term Goals

By , SparkPeople Blogger

This blog is dedicated to my team, The ~Indygirl Challenge, who told me they wanted to know how to get past the desire to satisfy that instant desire versus stay track for a long-term goal.  I’m not going to fib: This is a tough one!

I used to think I wanted to reach my goals more than I wanted anything, but obviously not.  I wanted to cope more, as an emotional eater.  The world is very full of emotion-causing events--some good, some bad. I needed to learn other ways to cope with my emotions.  (I blogged about Dealing with Emotional Eating last week.)

I also had to want to reach my goals more than I wanted to feel the food in my mouth, taste its deliciousness and feel overly full.  That last part is VERY important.  I’ve discovered I can have the food and all the wonderful sensations it brings, but with portion control and rules.  For me, certain foods can only be eaten when I'm away from home, such as candy bars, fast food, donuts, and anything else that would hinder my efforts and trigger a binge.  Then I allow myself ONE small or standard-sized item, and leave it at that.  Once I track it, it is added to my SparkPeople Food Tracker for the day and I move on.
Most of all, I had to want something worse than I wanted the food.  In my case it was freedom from my room/house.  I had been stuck in it for a few years and really wanted out and back to a life of going to movies with my husband, shopping with my girlfriends, and working again.  I was very lonely.  Sitting at home alone in pain is one of the biggest triggers for me to overeat.  I desperately wanted out of the situation.
As my journey started, I gained friends on SparkPeople.  They cheered me on as I wrote blogs and expressed exactly what I was going through.  I now NEED SparkPeople more than I NEED excess food.  The people on the site help me with my emotional eating by always being there and taking time to stop by my page, even when I don’t always have the time to reply back.  When I’m coping with heavy emotions, someone cares.  That makes a difference.
To fight my particular food issues, I found that I wanted to get out of my house and inspire others in my situation to do the same.  THIS need to inspire brought me around.  When I first heard that I motivated somebody or made them feel like they could do something better for themselves, I was hooked.  No longer was it just about me and my freedom to get out of my house, but it was about showing others that they could do the same thing.
Now when I want to feast on treats, I actually have something I really do want more.  Maybe all of the other horrible things about my 460-pound disabled body wouldn’t reach me and sustain my resolve, but SparkPeople- you reading this right now- reach me.
Here are 7 of my tips for instant gratification--within reason:

  1. Have a small portion.  One slice of pizza always has fewer calories than two.

  2. Have none at all if it is going to trigger a binge.  Run for the hills and get out of the danger zone where the temptation exists.

  3. Stay full on mini meals every 3-4 hours so you are not tempted.

  4. Drink water- a lot!

  5. Bulk up on fiber and protein to stay full.

  6. ALWAYS order small.

  7. Use small plates.

    I hope this helps you understand that you can have a treat.  It just needs to be counted into your Food Tracker and should not take the place of more nutritious foods.  Use caution not to eat things that will cause a binge cycle to start and avoid even being around them.  Find that “something” that you want more than food.  Dig deep.  That is what will sustain you through your journey.
    What do you do when you are faced with temptation?

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GABY1948 10/11/2019
Great Report
BABY_GIRL69 2/8/2019
Some times a spoonful or a few cookies is good but then there are times where I can't get enough. Thanks SP! Report
Blog is AWESOME! Report
Excellent Report
Great blog. Report
This is great! Report
I'm pretty sure I need a 12 step program for chocolate addiction. I promise you, it's like crack to me! I try very hard to stop eating chocolate hershey's kisses at 3. Some days are better than others Report
Awesome blog. Report
News I can use....Thx Report
Thanks Beth. Report
I can think it but I don’t have to eat it. Report
I use distraction and if that dosen't work then just a small helping. I do have to stay away from trigger foods though and that generally works. Of course there are days when nothing helps but, I find that the more time I spend on spark on those days the better off I am. Report
Thank you for sharing your heart and your words of wisdom and encouragement with us not only in this blog, but your many others.
Sharon :) Report
I am a huge choco-aholic. I know I can not completely cut that out of my diet so to compromise I by the Ghraridelli Squares and I allow one a day of the dark chocolate and it is just enough to get me through my mid-day chocolate craving.
Great post. Report
You're dead on! I especially like the idea of only eating "triggers" away from home. Also the smaller plate to fit smaller(appropriate) portions is great! Thank you for your blog. Report
I like the idea of eating certain snack food only if you are away from home. I buy healthier snacks, but even then I can eat the whole bag if I have it around the house. I struggle not to eat the whole bag, but it is very hard since I know it is just in the next room. Report
We went to smaller plates years ago and it's surprising what a psychological difference it made. Small portions on a large plate seem like you're depriving yourself, but putting the same amount on a smaller plate does not have the same effect. Report
Thank-you for sharing. I needed to hear your point about foods that can trigger binges. I have 'favorite' snack foods that once I start, I cannot stop until it's gone. I want to be stronger, but maybe avoiding them altogether is key. :-) Report
I think you're so "on track" and have terrific suggestions. Keep up the great work!!! You rock! Report
I like it that you don't have a "forbidden food" but instead, have found a way to have some of the food you like in small or limited amounts. For me, I am learning to have 1 or 2 cookies, like you, when I'm out of the house, because if I buy a package and have it at home, I'm likely to eat the whole thing at once!!! Also, I'm also starting to use the 100 calorie packs and snackwells; the packaging helps me. Better to satisfy a little of the craving, as you say, then move on!

You're a great role model, Beth. Keep it up! Report
Today I wanted chips and I got chips and peanuts...I messed up! I am trying to stay away from the salty fat. Report
Smaller plates have helped me figure out what size portion of protein I should be eating and the rest is always veggies (I love them and so do the rest of my family members). We eat a lot of green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and the like. Thank you for sharing. Report
I disagree with the using small plates idea. I think it is better to use a regular plate, and make sure at elast half of it is covered with vegetables :) Report
Thanks for the tips, makes sense Report
I give myself one day of guilt-free eating each week and because I work so hard for that day. Indulging in 1 high-caloric meal seems well earned in my opinion. Report
thank u so much for your blogs. I am disabled also, primarily due to my overeating and a very bad car wreck. I had back surgery 2 months ago and still can't sit. Last year I had knee surgery and next year I need neck surgery. I had foot surgery 5 years ago. My whole musculoskeletal system collapsed due to excess weight. Thanks to sparkpeople and overeaters anonymous I have lost 60 pounds and became non-diabetic. I have 60 more to go. It's really hard b/c there are so many exercises I can't do. All I can do right now is short walks and stretching my arms out. I am very isolated b/c I'm disabled but I can read and write and hope and pray! Report
Beth, I am sure glad that you are hooked on helping others because you have definitely helped me! Thanks for blogging! Report
Such simple, yet such profound tips! Thank you. Raisins are my binge food. You're right -- I just need to keep them out of my house. If I need them for a recipe, I'm committing right now to going to the bulk food section of my local health food store and buying just the amount I need, right at the time I'm going to make the recipe! Report
Thanks so much for sharing this particular information. Even though I have lost the weight I set out to lose, I still struggle with emotional eating and am trying to make life changes that will help me. These tips are simple and common sense, yet reading them here seemed to provide that extra motivation I need. And most importantly, I know I am not alone. Report
I can't handle any amount of unhealthy processed foods. I take healthy snacks with me when I am in a social eating situation. Nuts and dried fruits are handy to put in small Ziplock baggies, and they can be premeasured and tracked. Report
In the evenings after supper I brush my teeth and put my mouth guard in (have to wear it so I don't grind my teeth). Report
Distraction, distraction, distraction ... My way to beat temptation! Report
Thanks for such a "beautiful" message...........and "kudos" to takes a diva to speak about what can and will hurt, and the awful distractions along the way.......

You sound as if you are taking it "one day at a time" and I know that's the best way........DIVA.......hold your head only gets better..... Report
I think it also helps me not to binge by not eating straight out of the container... Pull out the portion you plan to eat and eat that. I notice that if I eat straight from the source, I may not stop until the source is depleted. Report
WOW! Such a deep message put so simply! I really love your "running away" tip - I will add that to my toolbox of weightloss tips. You are an inspiration! Keep up your wonderful progress and please keep writing your wonderful blogs! xxxooo Report
An excellent blog with MANY strong valid points. I've incorporated some of them already in my weight loss plan. I still find I have to insure I DON'T HAVE ANY TEMPTATIONS to falter on my plan. Report
Thank you for this post! I will implement what you said into my food plan. I have a notorious sweet-tooth and always felt guilty about having a piece of candy or a slice of cheese cake. Moderation is the key! Report
I so agree! Paying it forward is a great motivator for me too! Report
These are great tips, Beth!
Even in maintainance, I struggle daily with food-demons. I also find that the possibility that my success could inspire someone else keeps me motivated. Report
Thanks for the great tips! Report
Thanks for a great blog. I too can only eat certain foods away from home. I try to keep my house free of temptation.....There are no sweets, no bread other than Oroweat Winter Wheat etc. I have lots of fruits and vegetables.

One of my favorite quotes is:

The chief cause of unhappiness and failure is trading what we want most for what we want at the moment. Report
You raise some very good points. I can really relate and I think I need to spend time finding that one thing that I want more than the food....... Report
I loved your blog. Temptation is something we face every day, and I am trying to learn to take everything one day at a time. I try to look at whatever is tempting me and ask myself why I want it. If it isn't because I'm hungry, then I ask myself if I'm craving it. If it's a craving I check to see if I have the calories to fit into the food plan. If I don't, then I try and drink water or have a peice of fruit. I do occasionally crave sweets, and fruit really does help me around the craving. My biggest task is to learn to not let the food control me, but for me to make good choices. I do occasionally have sweets but in very small, trackable amounts. You are an inspiration to all of us. Keep up the good work. Report
Wonderful tips -- it is so important not to feel you must deprive yourself. It is ok to have an occassional treat -- if you really, really want it. Just be sure you keep yourself are accountable for it.

I would add a # 8 that has made a difference for me-- Make the process fun and challenging -- like a game you want to win. If it is fun, you will be so much more motivated to do what needs to be done. When you reach your goal -- YOU WON! Report
Great blog and great tips.

Thanks for sharing!
On some temptations i would ask myself
" would Donny Osmond eat this"
and the answer is usually no he would not. Report
When tempted I either brush teeth or eat a dill pickle...never want anything after doing either! Report
i try to focus on other motivational activities like picking up one of my fitness magazines--lately its been runner's world and reminding myself why i am doing this. Report
When tempted, if I can make myself go into a different room, do something else, break the thought often is averted. You make my journey easier! Report
Great blog. I use a lot of the same tips and even after 11 years my family has a hard time understanding why I use a small plate, have just one slice of pizza, look for foods with fiber, etc. My new set of dishes will not be as big as the set my husband bought :-) Report