The daily struggle with temptation is something we all experience. Some people crave salty, crispy snacks; others, sweet sugary treats. Whatever the flavor or texture, it's a challenge that we all have in common.
When I question clients about the progress of their changing nutritional habits, I often hear, "Well, I did OK, but then the kids had (chips, cookies or some other junk food) and I had to have some too". Other times it's that someone had a great week & blew it by eating a pan of brownies at the Sunday night family dinner. Let's face it. Temptation and having strong will power is difficult. If you're an emotional eater, it's even more challenging.
There are so many reasons for the midnight munchies and caving into temptation. For emotional eaters, high stress is the biggest trigger. For other people, boredom is another trigger. Typically (excluding emotional eaters), poor nutrition and the lack of appropriate calories for that individual often leads to after dinner binges.
There are two solutions to this problem. First, one must determine why they are so tempted. Is it something biological and just part of who they are? Could it be resolved through proper nutrition and balance? Is it emotional eating? Figuring out the "why" is always easier said than done. However, once an individual gets to the core of the situation, the resolution becomes much easier.
In the interim, the second solution is to create a temptation free environment. If you don't have those tempting snacks in the house, you can't eat them. If your craving is strong enough to make you get in the car and drive to the local grocery store, it's not so much an impulsive decision and you have some time to talk yourself out of it, thus resulting in making a better choice. It really is that simple.
Many people live in households where other family members (or roommates for that matter) don't share the same nutritional and fitness goals. One member of the family may claim that they don't need to get into shape and question why they are being made to change their habits. In this situation, a level of compromise and respect must happen. Of course, it is always up to an individual on what to eat at any given time. If one choses to eat junk, that's their choice. However, they should be respectful of those under the same roof who struggle with the challenge of changing their eating habits. It's not supportive to eat a bag a chips in front of someone who is trying to change and tends to go overboard with that particular snack.
In addition to determining the cause of the cravings and creating a temptation free environment, one can also use distraction and focusing on the "x factor" for motivation. It's hard to polish off a jar of peanut butter when you're busy with something else (reading, exercising, tackling the things you've been procrastinating on) or thinking about why you started working out in the first place. With these coping mechanisms, a person can be very successful at overcoming temptation.
So, skip the snack foods isle at the grocery store. You and your family don't need that junk in the first place and it will only be your downfall during those times of temptation. Out of sight, out of mind, not in your stomach and not on your butt.