(While Following These Rules)
Did you know there are several steps you can take to improve your diet even if you’re not ready to give up SAD (Standard American Diet) food? In fact, I would go as far as to say that if you follow these steps, you’ll be able to adopt a lasting nutrient-dense diet style. Utilizing the following tools now will make it much easier to begin eating healthier when you are ready.
Let’s apply this counterintuitive notion of changing your diet without changing what you put in your mouth to a real life situation. Imagine I’m going to my favorite restaurant, just a mile up the street from where I live in Morro Bay, CA. With a view of the Pacific, ramshackle Taco Temple has one almost perfect nutrient-dense meal (when ordered without the cheese, sour cream, and white rice)—it consists of two soft corn tortillas loaded with black beans, spring greens, shredded cabbage, grated carrots, and fresh guacamole.
However, adjacent to “veggie tacos” on the menu, a plethora of bad food options abound. And as a California Fusian style eatery, the Temple plies its patrons with all-you-can-eat fresh-fried tortilla chips to keep ‘em happy during the half-hour wait for a table. To top it all off, this place is well-known for Dawnelle’s famous carrot cake—a six dollar slab could feed a family of four (well, not four of ME!).
As you can see, there are several opportunities for me to fall off the healthy eating wagon during my dinner out. Historically, I’d go to Taco Temple hoping I would just get the taco salad. When I got there I would try to stick to my guns, but the longer I sat there resisting those crunchy oil-soaked tortillas, the more my resolve weakened until what the hell finally took over.
You’ve probably figured out by now that “hoping” and “trying” don’t get you very far. And after many Taco Temple dietary mishaps, I finally came to that realization and began to see what should’ve been obvious all along—I needed a plan that involved more than keeping my fingers crossed.
Know How Much You Eat
Because the deep fried flour tortilla chips are unlimited and on the house, it was easy for me to lose myself in them and then console my guilt-ridden self later with, “I didn’t really eat that many.” (Yea, right.) So my strategy became counting chips. I would count out ten chips and put them on my plate to savor slowly. By unhurriedly relishing the aroma, taste, and texture of each chip, my healthy main dish would usually arrive before I got to number ten, but if not, I was always free to count out ten more.
Be The Last One To Finish
No doubt you’re familiar with the technique of putting your fork down between bites. Well, this strategy really came in handy—I’d take a bite, put my fork down, converse a moment, and repeat. By stretching out the healthy part of my meal, I had less time to contemplate other unhealthy and fattening foods.
Save The Evil Carrot Cake
I grew up on foil-wrapped candy kisses, homemade peanut patties (complete with red food coloring), and 7-11 Kit Kats, and even though I no longer enjoy the taste of sugar-added treats, I can still be swayed by the creamy white, walnut-covered colossus that is Dawnelle’s famous carrot cake.
Its size alone is enough to send me into an anticipatory frenzy despite the fact that even I can’t eat it all in one sitting. My strategy became this: I could have half a piece of carrot cake (still a very large serving), but I had to take it home to eat it. That means I had to either leave the other half or give it to somebody else. This approach served a couple of purposes. For one thing, it taught me to sit in Taco Temple for a while upon finishing my nutrient-dense tacos without eating the cake—thus, I began building willpower. Secondly, in many cases I found that, if I couldn’t have it then and there, then never mind, so I left without the cake and celebrated when I got home. But even when I chose to take it home, I had still practiced discipline by delaying gratification.
Nowadays, my old triple-layer nemesis no longer temps me—nor do the chips.