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Dealing with Temptation

Pizza. Ice cream. Salted egg potato chips. Hey, I get it. There's just so much tempting food out there that seem to exist just to sabotage your efforts at health. Masarap naman talaga kumain. How could you possibly say no?

Well, you can. And here are some strategies that may work for you next time that Twister Fries commercial comes on:

1. Find a substitute.

  • Especially if you're trying to lose weight, dialing down carb intake is a good idea. If that seems difficult, you can actually trick yourself into thinking you're eating carbs through smart substitution. Cauliflower can be turned into rice, pizza crusts, or tortillas. Spiralized zucchini and carrots make great replacements for noodles. And have you heard of the Meatzza? Look it up!

  • What about instead of Cheetos, eat real cheese? (I loooovvve cheese.)

  • Instead of barbecue flavored chips, why not eat actual barbecue?

  • Have dark chocolate (70+) instead of milk chocolate, candy or cake.

2. Learn to recognize your hunger signals.

Listen to your body and determine whether you are actually hungry vs. simply craving something. If it's the latter, then try to...

3. Distract yourself.

When thoughts of french fries start flooding your brain, get up and take a short walk. Drink a glass of water. Call your spouse. Do 10 squats. Get your mind off your craving and busy yourself with something else that's worth your time until your next yummy healthy meal.

4. Enlist the help of friends.

You know that super-fit colleague of yours who's always training for the next triathlon? Or your buddy who's also trying to lose weight? Have them help you be accountable for your food choices. Sometimes you need someone to say no on your behalf or cover your eyes as you walk past the donuts in the pantry.

5. Reduce your intake of added sugars.

You should aim to reduce that dependence on sugar for energy so the constant carb cravings will stop. Note that "added sugar" exists not only in desserts or things that are sweet. Sugar is typically added on to a lot of processed food to improve taste and you'll find it in anything from bacon to dairy products to your spaghetti sauce.

Where to start?

  • Stop drinking sodas, juices, designer coffees and sweetened iced tea. Stick to water, black coffee and unsweetened tea.

  • Eat real, whole food and avoid processed food.

  • Stick to healthy snacks. Many of us store crackers or junk food in our office drawers or stashed away in our purses. Restock with healthy alternatives.

If all fails, then go ahead and treat yourself, BUT:

1. Be prepared for the consequences.

In my case, while I love dairy, dairy doesn't always love me back. So I know that while a vanilla milkshake might give me 10 minutes of bliss, half a day of bloating and misery will follow.

Of course you have to make allowances for what life brings your way, so if you're stuck in a workshop where they serve only pasta, or starving on a long-haul flight where they serve only a hotdog in highly processed white bread, then go ahead, but get back on the healthy wagon as soon as you can.

2. Don't go overboard. Just because you already gave in to the first few pieces of Cheetos doesn't mean you should finish the entire bag. Get a hold of yourself.

3. Most importantly, MAKE SURE IT'S WORTH IT. One of my weaknesses is freshly-baked croissants. But I'm not going around eating every croissant I see. It's got to be one heck of a good croissant straight out of the oven, and I only limit myself to one. And when my son, who rarely bakes, suddenly asks me to try one of his chocolate chip cookies, I'm not going to say no. Or if I ever get to sit at the table of Chef Massimo Bottura, then I will gobble up every single thing he serves. And if it involves pasta or bread, so be it. I will get back on track the next day.

It's all about making the best possible choices given your circumstances. Don't sweat it.

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