Before You Eat That…

Today, August 3rd, is National Watermelon Day. I wish you a very happy Watermelon Day and suggest you have yourself a slice and celebrate! How to choose a ripe one? The watermelon should feel heavy for its size, which means it contains lots of water and is nice and ripe. Choose one of average size that is more round than long. (The round ones are “girl” melons and are sweeter, of course!) The color should be deep green, dull instead of shiny, and its tail should be dry. It should also have a creamy yellow patch where it sat on the ground.  The more creamy yellow the patch, the better. Enjoy this AMAZING fruit!

Now down to some other business. Food vs. You. It feels like a war within sometimes, right? I mean, you think about the cookie and how you love the texture, sweetness, and crunch. That cookie or ______  (fill in the blank here with whatever food you like) would really hit the spot right now. Go for it!

But Wait! Before you eat that…

Are you hungry? Did you finish a delicious meal and now have a taste for a sweet treat to finish it off? Is it that time of day when you need some energy and the cookie seems like a good idea? Or, are you lonely, sad, bored, stressed, upset, happy– or any one (or more) of a seemingly endless list of emotions? 

Good grief! It’s one cookie! Is it that big of a deal?

NO.

The big deal happens when we notice a habit that is not in the best interest of us being our healthy, happy selves. 

For example, I’ll pick on me and a few of my former “not-so-good” habits. For years I thought I had to have a big bowl of ice cream every night. I thought I always had to have chips and a sandwich for lunch. Breakfast was usually cold cereal, milk and sometimes toast.

I have since realized that the ice cream every night was a comfort food for me that goes back to when I was a little girl. My parents and I would enjoy lots of it in the evenings, often enough that it became a comfort habit—one that got me through the tumultuous high school years and beyond. Oh yes, LOTS of emotional stuff then. Going to the carton of ice cream was my “go to.” AGH! Well, Linus always had his security blanket. Now, I am happy to say, I have cut my ice cream consumption back to once or twice per week, and eating it is not emotionally driven. Perfection would mean totally eliminating it from my life. I am not there. However, I know that sugar loading before bed is not good for maintaining steady blood sugar levels through the night. I am making good progress.

The chips and sandwich routine stemmed from my grade school days when I took my lunch in my turquoise Mary Poppins lunchbox. My favorite fare at the time: hard salami on white Wonder bread, yellow mustard, a sweet banana pepper, and Fritos on the side. Not much nutritional redemption there. I now practice eating more veggies in the form of salad greens for lunch and have pretty much ditched the Fritos and chips. No, I don’t have the lunchbox anymore.

My carbohydrate heavy, low protein breakfast–simply another acquired habit from growing up with parents who switched from bacon and eggs to cereal and toast for better health. Interesting how things come full circle. Back to eggs with sautéed veggies–bacon on occasion.

It is important to eat protein with each meal, along with plenty of vegetables and fruits. It is also important to minimize sugars and refined carbohydrates. There are so many other “food rules” that it is certainly hard to keep track! Progression, not perfection.

I digress.

The point of all this is to look at WHY you are choosing to eat something that may not be in your best interest of health, and ask, “Am I hungry?” If not, consider having a glass of water or herbal tea or finding some other distraction so you stop focusing on the cookie (or chips, ice cream, M&M’s). Getting some type of exercise is a great alternative to going to the kitchen. Our bodies need to move!

I encourage you to think about why you eat some of the things you do. And you know I’m not talking about the occasional treat or crazy meal. It is the day-in and day-out stuff that gets us. Perhaps it is time to make a change in one of your lifelong habits and see what a big difference in can make!

Conscious awareness is an important first step in taking charge of your life. Go for it!

“Watch your habits, not your weight.”

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