You’ve eaten really, really well lately. So well that you posted a picture of your 10 pound weight loss on Instagram and got 84 likes! You wake in the morning and feel ready to leap into your day. Then it happens. (Signal Jaws music) You see a group of people walking in unison. They are smiling and singing. Then you see the object in their hands with candles flickering as a warning sign. You remember it is Steve from accounting’s birthday. (Cue damsel in distress scream) Not a birthday cake!
So what are you to do? There is a cake 10 feet from you. You didn’t plan for it, but there it is, mocking all your hard work. Someone is shoving a piece in your direction, just assuming that you want some. It smells so chocolaty good.
Sure it’s easy to eat well in a vacuum. The real test is to see how you eat when temptation is thrust in front of you. I am a confessed sugar addict. I curbed my Frappuccino drinking, ice cream licking, jelly bean gorging ways out of pure desperation. My motivation: nothing made me lose weight and keep it off quite like limiting refined sugar.
So what do I do when put in this dreaded situation? The first thing I do is attempt to bargain with myself. The part of us that craves sweets has the maturity of a two year old. You have to give her something to quiet her screams. I think of my jar of unsweetened applesauce in the fridge. I could go home tonight and put some cinnamon in it and it would taste kind of like apple cobbler. Or I tell myself I will reward myself for not eating cake with a mani and pedi. Some times these bargains will work magically.
Other times, this makes my two year old throw a full blown temper tantrum! She says, “I know applesauce isn’t cake and I want cake now!” Ok, what now? I put about two bites worth of the treat on my plate. Then I slowly savor, enjoying all the flavors. The result? The two year old stops crying and the adult in me takes charge. The adult recognizes after two bites, “that was good but nothing to get all bent out of shape about”.
What happens though if that doesn’t work? What happens if I eat the whole piece of cake? This will result in a blood sugar rush and then dip, leading to more intense cravings for sugar. That is when people ditch the diet and fill their shopping cart with pints of Ben & Jerry’s. Think of this phenomenon as a two year old, overdue for naptime, running out of control on a sugar-high. My response is to run right to the fridge and grab as many vegetables, whole grains and as much good quality protein as I can. Good quality whole foods will help restore proper blood sugar, keeping a cheat from turning into a binge. In fact, much of the time we crave sugar, our bodies are just trying to tell us that we need protein.
The bottom line is there is a place for cake in any healthy diet. My rule though is that I decide when I’m going to splurge, not somebody else. I choose the situations to indulge because I know it will be worth it and I make the decision ahead of time. Don’t give someone else power over your diet! Just look that two year old in the eye and tell her it is naptime. She may cry at first, but before you know it she will be out.
Now that you survived cake, you are ready for any hurdle that comes your way!