These days formidable willpower is required to resist the call of ubiquitous supersized fast food, sugar-laden snacks, and triple portioned restaurant entrees. It hasn't always been that way. When I was growing up, restaurant dining was a special treat, drive-thrus a rarity, and the Appletini had yet to be invented. Growing up in the 60s, as I did, it was much easier to maintain a healthy weight. We ate at home and my mother made sure I didn't overindulge in sweets by padlocking them in the cabinet above the refrigerator.
Now every strip mall is populated with McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Wendy's, and KFCs. We're bombarded with a steady stream of ads for junk food from every form of media imaginable. I want to know who to blame for the latest crazy food inventions like pizza with mini hot dogs in the crust and biscuit tacos.
Given these surroundings, it's easy to fall prey to overeating on a regular basis. But you can make it a lot easier on yourself by following these four simple tips:
1. See No Evil
If you never see the junk food you're not likely to inhale it. Avoid the drive-thrus, turn your back on the buffet of fried appetizers, and don't set foot in the likes of the Cheesecake Factory or Olive Garden. Avoid the office kitchen, particularly on Fridays. When your favorite restaurant serves you an entrée for 2-3, share it or immediately pack your to-go box. Then you have permission to eat every last bite on the plate.
2. Don't Let it Jump Into Your Shopping Cart
Most of us will eat what's in our fridges and cupboards. When you go grocery shopping, remember that only the perimeter of the store is safe. Don't let your supermarket cart stray into the aisles with the chips, candy, cookies, and soda. Instead of succumbing to the impulse buys at checkout, get through the wait by indulging in a trashy gossip magazine. If you limit your purchases to real food that's at least semi-healthy, you'll probably eat end up eating it. Your innate laziness will save the day. You'll decide you don't have the time or energy to get in the car just to go get a bag of Doritos.
3. Trash It
Food is so plentiful and servings so huge that we're constantly tempted to eat more than we should, especially if we're lifelong members of the clean plate club. Make friends with your garbage disposal. You can always go to confession later if you feel badly. Another option, which sounds a little weird, but works for some people, is to render the excess food inedible by generously watering or over-salting it. Garbage cans are good too, although I've heard tell of late night dumpster diving retrievals.
4. Calculate the exercise burn
We often tell ourselves that we'll assuage our guilt for overeating by burning it off at the gym the next day. Not likely. Don't buy into the inflated calorie burn stats displayed on cardio equipment. They lie to us to keep us coming back. Instead, download a chart created by a reputable source and you'll learn that 45 minutes on the elliptical will only get you an order of McDonalds's fries and a like amount of time exerting yourself jogging burns off a grand total of 8 Oreo cookies. That really gives you a reality check, doesn't it? Keep in mind that the key to weight loss is to focus on the jaw muscle.