You know that devilish urge to eat a mouth-watering food when it’s put in front of you - even though just a minute ago you weren’t hungry or thinking about it?
It strikes all of us.
How do we reduce such situations?
This is a question recently asked of me by a follower, Kathy, who writes:
“I am good at not indulging if something is in front of me, but if it is in front of me, I have terrible will-power. My spouse is a stress-eater and in times of lots of stress, he stress-eats more which means more snack foods are in front of me more often. How do you advise avoiding this bad habit?”
This brings up a key strategy for anyone who wants to eat better – whether your goal is to lose weight, improve your health, or just have more energy.
The common problem addressed here uses a phrase dreaded by most when it comes to food:
Many people find their willpower melts like a snow cone on a sweltering summer day when a tempting morsel appears in front of them (myself included.)
This calls to mind what’s called “Berardi’s First Law,” named after Dr. John Berardi, the founder of Precision Nutrition:
“If a food is in your house, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.”
In other words, be mindful of what foods you choose to put in your home because even those possessing the strongest willpower will eventually eat it.
The good news is that you can use this law to your advantage by shaping your home environment so that you don’t even need to rely on willpower.
Cool, right? But how do you do that?
Many strategies exist, but I’ll offer my favorite here:
In my coaching program, I teach my clients the system of labeling foods as green, yellow, or red light foods.
Once you know what these terms mean, you can deploy a really effective strategy that will reduce the chances of you tearing into entire bag of potato chips at 12am in the span of a 22-minute, Netflix show (we’ve all been there.)
Here’s the simple labeling system:
Green Light Foods: Foods that make you feel good mentally and physically, and that you can eat normally and slowly (i.e. they don’t make you want to binge them.) Think fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc. Green means “have anytime.”
Yellow Light Foods: Foods that are sometimes ok, sometimes not. Maybe you can eat a little bit without feeling ill, or you can eat them sanely at a restaurant with others but not at home alone. Or you can have them as an occasional treat. Yellow means "approach with caution".
Red Light Foods:Foods that you succumb to easily and you know are not good for you. Red means consume “very rarely.”
There’s some subjectivity to this labeling because what might be a yellow-light food for me could be a red-light food for you, and vice versa.
So how do you apply this labeling system in your home, whether with a partner or alone?
Apply This Strategy:
Step 1: Make a list of all the foods frequently in your home that you consider to be either red or yellow light foods.
Step 2: Next, ask if your partner would either a) consider not having those red light foods in the home at all, or b) at least stashed in a cupboard that contains just his favorite foods that remain out of sight.
Happy Marriage Tip: the yellow-light foods you identified could be a source of compromise. Why? Because it may not be great for marital bliss to tell your partner to ditch ALL their favorite snacks and/or treats by tomorrow.
So, the yellow-light foods can more readily be kept at home or even in-sight because they’re easier for you to not eat.
Let him/her know which foods are the most challenging for you to resist and that you would like to keep away, while also mentioning which yellow light foods may not be as much of an issue for you.
What if you’re not married or living with someone?
Do step one above.
Then, start simply by keeping less of those red-light foods in the home. Start pruning them from your shopping list and see if you can replace at least one with something a lit bit better for you.
Now it’s your turn!
Comment below and let me know ONE red-light food you plan on keeping out of your home AND what you might be able to substitute it with that’s a bit healthier!