How to manage when surrounded by tempting foods
September 20, 2019
Being surrounded by tempting foods is hard. It’s especially challenging during fair and festival season – even for me! While you’re having fun and enjoying everything that’s going on, you’re also in an environment that sets you up for one of those “biology vs. willpower” situations.
The sight of all those tempting foods and the aromas can quickly have you saying, “To heck with it! I am enjoying myself today!” You soon find yourself eating items that you may later come to regret.
If you are trying to lose weight or manage your blood sugars, you may feel guilty about the carbs or the calories.
If you have gut health issues, you may be experiencing what is politely described as “ digestive side effects” and wondering what on earth possessed you to eat as you did.
So, what to do?
First of all, be aware that at events such as fairs and festivals you are in an environment where biology will do it’s best to override your willpower. Don’t get mad at your body about this! Our bodies have numerous biological reactions that served our ancestors well but can be challenging for us in the modern world.
When your nose catches the aroma of food your brain interprets those signals. Then many subtle changes occur that can be simplified to your brain shouting “Get ready mouth and stomach! Food is coming.” All of these helped our distance ancestors survive in an environment where food was scarce. When you’re in a food rich environment like a festival, those adaptations can make it challenging for you.
Food aromas can also trigger powerful memories that can also weaken your resistance. A further challenge comes from the bright, colorful booths and stands of the food vendors. Some of the same challenges that grocery stores present also arise at fairs and festivals. Your companions can also play a role in what you choose to eat.
There are, however, ways to limit impulse eating and reduce the effect of the siren song of those tempting food choices. Teaching you how to you avoid or limit those issues is something I do with a lot of the people who either come to my office or see me through virtual appointments.
Let’s be clear…It’s not about deprivation!
Let me be clear: I am not saying that you should stop having fun and give up going fairs and festivals! I am also not saying that you have to deny yourself all the tempting foods at them. That’s what I call the “deprivation trap.” Telling yourself you are not going to eat anything at the event will only backfire and get you into trouble. It can also fuel feelings of guilt and “should have, could have” angst that so many of us struggle with.
Having a plan when you are going into a challenging situation is important. This helps you to make intentional choices instead of simply reacting to the environment around you and the normal reactions of your body.
There are many techniques that I teach people who work with me, and I’ll share the first one with you now.
Choose your indulgence.
Yes, I mean that! If you’re trying to manage your weight or blood glucose, tell yourself before and during the event that you can choose one item to savor and enjoy. Plan for that item ahead of time and watch what you do, eat and drink before the event, during it and after it.
If you’re having to avoid your usual tempting items due to gut health issues, think before the event of some things that you would enjoy that would be safe for you to consume. For example, I need to be very careful about how much wheat I consume. Fried dough, my former favorite fair food, is definitely not possible at this time. So while I enjoy the scent of the fried dough that I can no longer eat, I found new fair food: fudge. Now I thoroughly enjoy the delights of the fudge I buy at the local fair…without guilt or unpleasant side effects!
Whatever you choose to eat at the event, make sure you thoroughly enjoy it. Read my post about how to enjoy your food more while eating less for more tips on how to do this.
Wondering what the other techniques I teach are? Or how you can succeed in tempting environments?
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Having personally struggled with weight and gut health issues, I understand how easy it is to think that food is the enemy especially with the changes our bodies undergo as we age. It doesn’t have to be that way!
I love using my extensive education and coach approach to help people realize it is possible to feel better and be healthier while still enjoying their life and food.