This blog isn’t for you if you have no issue with moderation and portion control. If you can eat just one cookie and find it’s all you need to be completely satisfied, then don’t bother reading on. If you go out to a restaurant and order your favorite dish, only to eat half and then take the rest home to enjoy later, then there’s nothing else I can teach you. If your nickname is “one-slice” because you’re content having just one slice of pizza, cake, or pie, then God bless you because you have an advantage over me. If your self-control is unshakeable, then I’m jealous and not sure why you’re reading my blog in the first place. You’re perfect.
As for me, I’m not perfect. In fact, I’ve realized over the years that I have an “all or nothing” type of approach to food. Sure this mentality has helped me do fantastic when I put my mind to enduring an eating challenge, like my one-month, no sugar, no flour experiment, but it doesn’t serve me at all when I try to walk the tightrope between eating the foods I love and not eating “too much” of the foods I love. I do my best with moderation for the short term, but often find myself slowly creeping back to my old eating habits. This can often lead to me going backwards with my health as fast as I went forwards without sugar and flour. This is why I need ongoing challenges to help keep me on track, even after my month without sugar and flour.
No, this isn’t a ploy to have you purchase another book from me called “Ongoing Healthy Challenges”, even though I think that’s a pretty cool title. Instead, I want to quickly explain my thinking here and leave it up to you for the next step. First, keep in mind that not all challenges have to be as grandiose as giving up sugar and flour, nor do they have to be back-to-back in a continual string of months. A challenge can be something small that keeps you focused on the long term goal. This is the same thought process you use for any long-term goal, just create milestones along your way to help you track your progress. Too often we focus on the final number, like wanting to lose fifty pounds, and after a while give up because it feels like we’ll never make it.
Smaller challenges are vital, so put your mind to creating a list of things that you can do. One month, I challenged myself to do at least 30 minutes of an “exercise” activity five days a week. While I quickly felt the benefits of moving every day, I also reaped the reward of not eating too terribly because I tend to eat better when I’m exercising. Once, after taking a close look at my food intake while still going without sugar and flour, I realized that I was consuming way too much cheese. Cheese was definitely a weakness for me, so I decided to see if I could live without it for a month. You know what? Not only did I survive a month without that dairy deliciousness, but since that day I no longer have the same cravings I did for cheese each day. Still another month I made my goal to stay under 8 tsps. of sugar each day, which gave me a little more freedom in my eating, but not a whole ton of wiggle room to get readdicted to the sweets.
I don’t want to scare you into thinking that you’ll have to go on and off challenges for the rest of your life, but if you’re someone who has a tough time with moderation, then you need something in your bag of tricks. Accept that you’ll have to create methods to remind yourself that food will always have some sort of power over you and acknowledge your need for different ways to combat your food urges. I would like nothing more than to tell you to “just eat in moderation” and your life changes forever, unfortunately some people such as myself might struggle with it more than others. So yes, I’m preaching moderation, but I also recommend keeping some monthly challenges in your back pocket if that doesn’t work.
Suggested Challenges – Though this is really a personal decision on what is best for you.
Month 1 – The No Sugar / No Flour Challenge
Month 2 – Moderation or an 8 tsp sugar a day challenge. Possibly some bread reintroduced if you can’t live without your sandwiches.
Month 3 – Exercise challenge month. Set a weekly goal and hit it all month long.
Month 4 – No Sugar / No Flour Challenge Month
Month 5 – Crutch food challenge. Is there something you rely on too much that doesn’t have sugar or flour? Possibly white potatoes, cheese, milk, etc? Something high in calories or fat, but you’ve justified large quantities because it’s “sugar and flour free”? Eliminate it for a month and see what happens.
Month 6 – Exercise challenge. Pick a whole new workout routine of exercises you need, but don’t love to do. You’ve likely created an exercise routine by now that’s filled with activities that you tend to enjoy, so take this month and get out of your comfort zone.
Month 7 – Moderation. Navigate the world of eating normally and see how you do.
Month 8 – No Sugar / No Flour challenge month with an exercise challenge added in. Make your physical activity count double this month.
Month 9 – Moderation and new food challenge. Commit to integrating some new foods into your diet that don’t contain sugar and flour.
Month 10 – The exercise event challenge. Sign up for a 5K, Sprint Triathlon, or something else with a set date that you have to train for and get training. Find a buddy to make it twice as fun.
Month 11 – Pick the previous challenge that fits with your life right now and go at it.
Month 12 – No Sugar / No Flour challenge with crutch food elimination. You’re already giving stuff up, so add some of those “crutch” foods to the mix and really impress your friends. (They already thought you were crazy for just giving up sugar and flour for a month, so maybe they’ll think you’ve gone off the deep end.)
These are just some thoughts, but feel free to explore what might work best for you. The key is to keep working toward your goal through the year.
All the best!