We all have food vices that we enjoy, but when weight gain and addiction start, it's time to take back control.
Coffee, wine, vodka, chocolate, cheese, dessert….in my opinion there's nothing wrong with indulging in any of these things, unless of course, you start enjoying them to excess.
Believe me, I understand. I love having a glass of wine, or some chocolate and a cup of tea after my children have gone to bed. There's also NO WAY I'm giving up my morning coffee! But I did have to join a gym recently to just get rid of excess ‘cake weight’ I’d put on. I’d lost all my baby weight from my two children then put a heap back on just from eating too much cake, and knew it was time to cut down.
I say 'cut down' and not ‘cut out’ because I’m not one for cutting certain foods out of my life forever, and I need little things to look forward to. There are, however, ways to go about managing those food vices so you are not overdoing on a daily basis. So if you feel that you are overdoing your favourite vice and want to cut down, here are some tips that may help:
Try to understand how much you are consuming
Before I fell pregnant with my first baby, I had no idea how much caffeine I was consuming, and I didn’t care. I usually had several instant coffees and cups of tea during the day, a large store-bought coffee, a soft drink and sometimes something chocolatey, too.
Then BAM! Pregnancy.
I started looking into the caffeine levels of food and drink and worked out I was having w-a-y too much and had to cut back, and not just because I was pregnant. I cut back to less than the recommended levels for pregnant women. Even now that my children are almost 4 and 2, I still consume only the recommended daily intake of caffeine.
You can also look into the levels of alcohol and sugar you are consuming. A food diary app can help you track sugar consumption, and sometimes it can be a real eye-opener, and help to keep you motivated to break your habit.
Work out your reason for wanting to cut back
Once you’ve worked out how much coffee/sugar/alcohol you are consuming a day give yourself an incentive to reduce your intake. Maybe you want to have a more balanced diet, or not feel as jittery every afternoon, or wake up without a hangover on the weekend.
Give yourself a realistic time frame to feel the effects of cutting down and notice how it makes you feel. Are you sleeping better or having fewer cravings? That's a sign your body is responding to the changes you're making.
Find a way that works for you
How do I cut down on chocolate, cake and anything sweet? I have to go cold turkey for a little while. There's no in between and no ‘everything in moderation’ for me. It’s all or nothing! I don't keep temptations in the house.
To help me stay on track, I would note my weekly weight on a whiteboard on the fridge. That way, it was there for everyone to see and there was no hiding it. Seeing the number go down each week alone was my motivation to keep making progress.
If you can do ‘everything in moderation’ though, then that’s awesome. Perhaps you can have just one or two squares of chocolate and leave the rest alone. Maybe you’re good at using distraction techniques to overcome your cravings, or rewarding yourself with small treats that aren't food or alcohol. However you want to cut down your vices, find the way that works best for you.
When I am in one of my cold turkey phases, I find that eating something slightly sweet gives me a little sugary fix without having to reach for the chocolate. My favourite is a little bag of sweet and salted popcorn. Or when I was pregnant and tired and really wanted a barista-made coffee, I simply ordered a decaf.
Replacing a bad addiction with something less toxic can also help. For example, if you are trying to cut back on caffeine, replacing energy drinks which are high in both sugar and caffeine, with cups of tea is fine. Tea still has caffeine but it also has other health benefits and you are gradually withdrawing from caffeine, rather than stopping completely.
Don’t cave into pressure!
It’s hard enough to stay disciplined to cut down on sugar or alcohol, but it’s even harder when you have people pressuring you or making you feel guilty for saying no! Stick to your guns. You don’t have to have a glass of wine or a beer, just because everyone else is.