We're only halfway through the first month of the new year and already some of us may have stumbled keeping up with those lofty goals and resolutions we set. Who knew "eat better" would prove to be so challenging? Resolving to eat better and actually doing it are two very different things, but it doesn't have to be a painful test of will and sacrifice. We have power over our food choices, NOT the other way around.
Every meal we eat is a choice. Most of us make at least three choices a day with breakfast, lunch and dinner, but what about all the micro choices we make at each meal? By the time that first bite makes it to our fork, we’ve made a series of deliberate and conscious choices about eating what’s on our plate.
Yes, I know it’s more comforting to feign surprise and gasp at how a slice of decadent, luscious, gooey chocolate cake ended up on your plate and in your mouth, but you and I both know how it got there. But do you know your choice – your power – is so much bigger than just choosing to eat cake? Don’t worry, I didn’t always know either; not until I took the time to look at all the micro choices that happen before eating chocolate cake.
Forgive me. I keep coming back to this chocolate cake because it's a personal struggle for me. The chocolate baby bundt cake from The Corner Bakery has been my recent go-to comfort food during the workday. It’s so convenient (right across the street from my job) and moist and delicious. Mmmmmmm. It’s so processed and full of sugar and against everything I intended for my health journey, like not feeding cysts, having clear skin and breaking my sugar addiction. Funny how I forget THOSE things when I’m eating the cake.
Amnesia happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t let us off the hook. Just because we think about eating chocolate cake, buy chocolate cake and put chocolate cake on our fork doesn’t mean we’re obligated to eat it. It’s okay to say no at any time and there are over a dozen times to "JUST SAY NO!".
Being the yoga instructor-in-training that I am, I’ve outlined some easy, beginner yoga-style steps to help you see your micro choices and take advantage of them to win the battle against chocolate cake. Feel free to substitute “cake” with your vice of choice.
1. Think about eating cake.
The thought of it makes you smile and dance inside, but it’s only a thought. STOP HERE! Notice it, let it float by and think of something more productive, like what are some of your favorite one-hit wonders doing these days? Did the Ghost Town D.J.'s ever get their “boo”?
2. Think about buying cake.
Now, you’re thinking about where you might possibly buy this cake. STOP HERE! It’s still only a thought though. You can repeat step 1.
3. Decide to buy cake.
You’re ready to make the thought manifest. STOP HERE! You can decide NOT to buy cake.
4. Check funds/get wallet.
You’re acting on your decision, possibly scraping up all the loose change you can find because you absolutely have to buy this cake. STOP HERE! Put your money away and carry on.
5. Put on coat.
Oh, so you’re going? STOP HERE! Take your coat off and have a seat!
6. Go to where cake can be purchased.
You decided to go anyway. No worries. STOP HERE! Just turn around and walk out. You won’t look crazy.
7. Order cake.
You’re at the register. It’s the moment of truth. STOP HERE! Aren’t there other, more healthful options on the menu? I think there are. Pick one.
8. Pay for cake.
Just because you ordered the cake doesn’t mean you have to pay for it. STOP HERE! Cancel the order. You may look crazy.
9. Accept the cake.
You paid for the cake and your order is up. And? STOP HERE! Leave it there. Gift it to another patron.
10. Get a fork (or a spoon if you're like me and want to make sure you don’t miss any crumbs).
You have the object of your fantasy right in front of you and your fork is ready to do damage. STOP HERE! Put the fork down and throw the cake away.
11. Put fork in cake for first piece.
The fork is in the cake, but not in your mouth yet. STOP HERE! There’s still time to repeat step 10.
12. Lift fork to mouth.
You’ve come this far, why bother stopping now? STOP HERE! Because you CAN stop now and something in you really wants to.
13. Open mouth.
Just say “Aaaaaaah!” STOP HERE! Just say “Mmmmmmm” and don’t part your lips until the fork is down and the cake is in the trash.
14. Put cake in mouth.
The cake is in your mouth and it is goooooooood. STOP HERE! I’m serious, you really can stop here, even though it seems like you’ve already completely given in. There is one final micro choice to make…
15. Chew and swallow cake. Repeat until cake is gone.
15. Frantically spit cake out and pretend the whole thing never happened. Throw cake away and grab an apple.
Whatever you decide, you can find comfort in knowing you made an empowered choice and not one out of habit or convenience. No need to beat yourself up or feel guilty if you eat the cake.
So, you can get with this or you can get with that. The micro choice is yours.