Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Food for Thought: The Easiest Choices are the Hardest to Make

Sometimes it just seems the easiest choices are the hardest to make.

You sit down to lunch and the server asks, "What would you like to drink?"

You immediately know that water is the best choice to make but, the Coke on the page almost seems to be written in bold, black ink and, from the back of your brain, it seems to call out to you in a breathy whisper, "Pick me.  Pick me."

"I'll have a wha…" you begin before trailing off gently.  You already feel a pang of guilt in the pit of your stomach.  Not because having a Coke is some kind of sin but because, for you, the decision you're about to make is really not as healthy as you want to be and it could create a domino effect for the rest of your day.

"COKE!  I'll have a Coke," you blurt followed by a bit of an uncomfortable chuckle.

Now, I'm so not trying to vilify soft drinks or imply that something as simple as a soda is going to ruin an otherwise healthy day but, it does seem to me that, we so quickly sabotage our efforts, most of the time, one tiny little choice at a time.

"I'll have the side salad with dressing on the side," instead of the loaded baked potato, or, pack your lunch instead of eating out every day if you know it will increase your chances of eating a well balanced,  reasonably portioned meal.  

These are all easy choices but hard to make when we're in the habit of rewarding ourselves for making healthy choices for say… the majority of the day or something.  Basically, what I'm trying to say is, don't self sabotage on the easy stuff.  At first, maybe you do sit through your lunch, wishing you had ordered that soda.  But, by the time you're walking away, I bet you'll be glad, maybe even relieved that you made the healthiest, best choice for your body.  

Oh, and P.S., if you're dwelling on that Coke during you're meal, after your meal, and on into the afternoon… like, you're seriously missing it, that should pretty much confirm that you have an unhealthy attachment to that food.  (There's no judgement here.  I can only say this cuz I've sooooo been there…)

Ultimately, I want to encourage.  Know that you really can effect a huge health difference by making small, easy choices, every single day, at every single meal that, all together, have a big impact on your mind, body, and soul.  Yes, even your soul.  I contend that even our spiritual selves appreciate it when  we are good to our physical shells.  

So, start today!  Start with the easy choices even though, in the moment, they may truly be the hardest to make.  And watch with amazement as both your body and your psyche respond positively.

A few Easy Choices that can help save some calories:
- Ask for dressing on the side instead of directly on your salad, that way you can control the amount, or, the serving you actually end up eating. 
- Opt for a vinaigrette in lieu of your go-to creamy dressing variety. 
- Ask your server for another plate and, when your meal arrives, put the amount of food that you really want to eat on that dish and, once you're through, stop eating.
- Order meals with as many fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains as possible as these foods are jam packed with dietary fiber, which helps make your body fill full and is needed for healthy intestines.  These foods are also chock full of lots of wonderful nutrients which help the brain send out the signals that tell the body our appetite is satiated.
- Dont' be afraid to order "off menu."  If the menu doesn't quite have what you would like to eat but you can see from the ingredients of other dishes that you might be able to pull something together, don't be afraid to ask.  The worst thing that could happen is your server says, "We can't do that," and the best is, you could get a delicious meal that you feel really great about.
- Get in the habit of making either breakfast or lunch your largest meal of the day.  That way, you have the majority of your "up and moving around" day to burn calories.  Keeping dinner to a light meal will insure that your body has a chance to properly digest the food and you'll get better, more restorative sleep.
- For those of you constantly meeting up for business lunches and dinners, if possible, check into the menu before you get to the location.  Decide ahead of time what you want to eat and don't deviate once you get there.  This will help you show restraint and maybe give you a chance to plan just how much of a dent you want to put into your daily calorie intake.

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