Getting Back on Track

Despite our best laid plans, it’s easy to overdo it—especially on holidays.

During the last few days, we celebrated a birthday as well as the birth of our country, with double the goodies. And as I have confessed before, chocolate and other desserts are my kryptonite.

Fortunately, I have found a few tricks to help get me back on track after I overindulge.

Lean protein and fiber are invaluable in leveling blood sugar levels and curbing sugar cravings—not only during meals, but also snacks. Some of my favorite breakfasts are egg and egg white omelets with vegetables and unsweetened Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit. In between meals, snacks like celery or whole wheat crackers with natural peanut butter, a handful of almonds or reduced-fat cheese also keep me from trolling for sweets.

It also helps to think about the brain mechanism at work when we crave certain foods, described in an article published in Mindful magazine, “Five Ways to Kick Bad Habits.”

According to this article, a desire triggers a behavior to satisfy it, such as eating a candy bar in response to a chocolate craving. As a result, the brain releases a feel-good chemical, dopamine. However, as time goes by the body craves more, strengthening this behavior.

To help resist these urges, psychologist Kelly McGonigal, author of the Willpower Instinct, who is quoted in the story, recommends focusing on long-term goals, such as improved health, while still being aware of short-term desires.

Next time I want to load up on cookies and cake, I’ll think about my larger goal of a long, healthy life. With a bit of luck, it will help me tame temptation and moderate my splurges.

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