Today I had a morning of Christmas decorating at the club on base with the spouses club. After a few hours of decking the halls and spreading the Christmas cheer, it was time for lunch. The club is not known for their food if you know what I mean, and after hearing the cashier state that the only vegetarian option they offered was rarely ordered and therefor rarely made (as well as lacking much nutritional value), I decided I should probably stick to one of the more common options if I hoped to have a decent tasting lunch. After perusing the chicken and deli meat sandwich options I went with the “hot sicilian,” a hefty portion of ham topped with pepperoni, mozzarella, lettuce and tomato, and a nice white bread bun. Oh yeah, and fries.
Just this morning I had prided myself on another great start to the day. Two scrambled eggs, a quarter of an avocado, and a whole grain piece of toast. And within a few short hours I had ruined my eating for the day.
When I got home, only and hour after having eaten, I felt…unsatisfied. I wasn’t hungry, but all I could think about was wanting to eat a Clif Builder’s bar (it also happened to be past my normal afternoon snack time). I had plans to go to the gym shortly after that, and was worried about feeling to full to perform well. Not to mention, technically I didn’t need anymore calories for sustenance. But as I sat there, it became clear that I was short on some much needed nutrients. So I ate the Clif bar. Then I waited an hour and hit the gym.
Check out this chart showing the different between how “full” you feel when you eat healthy foods vs. nutrient lacking foods.
|Source: Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat for Health. Book One, 2008|
I’m sitting here now, frustrated. I actually don’t feel too full, I was able to push as hard as I wanted at the gym, and for all intents and purposes I probably only consumed a couple hundred extra calories than I would have on a normal day. The problem is, I’m a little disgusted by what I allowed into my body today.
It is one thing to purposefully indulge on something that you love. I LOVE pizza. Every now and then I give myself full access to a gooey, cheesy pie, and I feel no guilt whatsoever. But, I actually find no enjoyment in a ham and pepperoni sandwich dripping in dressing, or fries floating in grease. I could have asked if they could create some sort of salad. Better yet, I could have waited thirty more minutes until I was home and eaten something good. I used the easy excuse of convenience and free food to rationalize eating something I normally would never even consider.
So, where does that leave me?
This is the situation where many people fall off the wagon. You make a poor eating choice, and then it snowballs into multiple poor choices, multiple days of poor choices, and then you are back in the rut of eating Little Debbie Christmas Tree snack cakes for breakfast, and feeling worse about yourself for doing it.
It doesn’t have to go that way.
The best defense is a good offense in my opinion. On days when I have made a poor eating choice, I’m usually very aware that I’ve made that poor choice, and I try to restrict it to that meal. It usually leaves me feeling unsatisfied, and facing the dilemma of packing in more calories by eating something that is better for me to finally calm my appetite. I’ve found that going ahead and eating whatever it feels like I need (in today’s case, the Clif bar), it helps sort of set me back on track. I don’t necessarily try to skimp on the next meal, I just eat as I normally would, then start fresh the next day. Health is a lifelong journey, and healthy eating habits are built bite by bite. Just because you make one bad choice, it doesn’t mean that meal, and especially not the entire day, is shot. Take a step back, regroup, and start fresh with the next bite or the next meal. The key is consistency in the long run, and sticking with it.