It’s summertime. School’s out. You’re on vacation. Maybe you have a beach or lake house or maybe you’re just home – but so are the kids – all day long. Vacation and kids: most likely you’ve let down your eating guard.
There’s food in the house that might not usually be there. It’s singing a siren song. It’s almost preordained that you’ll find yourself in your kitchen opening and closing cabinet doors or with cold air from the open fridge door in your face as you shove around containers full of ice cream, sugared cereal, chips, yesterday’s cake, and slices of cold pizza.
Once you’ve opened the first door – whether it’s the fridge or a cabinet, chances are you’re a goner unless someone interrupts you midstream (even that might not stop the rolling freight train). The notion of (sweet/salty/fatty/caloric food has embedded itself in your brain and has firmly taken root.
- The easiest thing to do is to not bring the food into the house. Most of us follow, whether we like it or not, a See It = Eat It pattern. If the food is right in front of your nose whether it’s on the counter or on the shelf in the fridge or in a cabinet, you will eat the food. If it’s sugary, salty, fatty food you will want more.
- If you’re going to eat, use a plate and utensils. Always put your food on a plate or in a bowl — the smaller the better. The size of the plate – or bowl – or container can often determine how much you ultimately eat. Make it a smaller dessert bowl or plate, not a monster size cereal bowl or dinner plate. If you stand there with fork or spoon in hand and just attack the container, in the blink of an eye it’s possible to polish off an entire pint of ice cream, a double piece of cake or half (or maybe a whole) bag of cookies.
- Eat with a teaspoon or small fork not with a tablespoon or a large fork or with your fingers. Large amounts of food disappear much more quickly with fingers or large utensils as shovels. The food disappears down the hatch so quickly that your brain doesn’t have time to register that you’ve eaten something – until you’ve probably overeaten way too much food and way too many calories.
- Don’t bring home leftovers. Don’t let them invade your space. Don’t bring back the leftover pizza or the leftover cake from the picnic.
- If you just can’t bring yourself to leave your leftovers in the hands of the restaurant: hide the stuff that tempts you. Out of sight, out of mind is really true. We all tend to eat more when it’s right in front of us. Food we like – especially higher calorie sugary, fatty, and salty foods — trigger cravings and eating.