Tuesday, June 29, 2010

feeling bad doesn't have to mean bad choices.

a realization has hit me this past week, as i have fought persistent feelings of yuck that have left me less than committed to healthy eating (and even worse, far than committed to cooking).  when you are weakened, all of your bad habits want to come out to play.

let me share with you what i have learned over the past week or so. we can call it, if you'd like, the do's and don'ts of feeling puny.
  • don't, under any circumstances, eat out of any carton.  you're tired.  you haven't wanted to eat anything, and now goldfish (or frozen yogurt or sherbet or anything else) sound lovely and appetizing.  even if it's a fairly decent snack that you normally have control over yourself with, you will not be able to control yourself here.  count out the dang 55 goldfish, or the 1/2 cup of ice cream, and then eat it. if you want more, you can always come back. but at least you'll know what you're eating.
  • do give yourself some latitude. if chinese food sounds good, go for it.  but do your research! beef and broccoli? an excellent choice.  too much sodium? sure. but if you end up eating mostly the broccoli, you have not done badly and you believe that you got a treat by going out to dinner.
  • don't forget your colors.  when you're feeling crappy and don't want to think too much about healthy eating, just try to eat lots of colors.  banana? yellow. and good for you. spinach salad? lots of green leafy goodness.  sweet potato? outstanding orange superfood of awesome.  sometimes, when the world is facing you with "fire bad, tree pretty" mentality, all you can do is find some colors.
  • don't go grocery shopping when you're exhausted.  normal vigilance will give way to permissive spending, and suddenly oreos and ice cream are part of your food landscape for the first time in ages.  two lovely ladies have already posted about planning ahead and making a grocery list that saves time and money. listen to them.  they are right.
  • do remember the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.  when i'm feeling yucky, i find myself more often eating according to the clock or because i want something. when your body's already out of whack, you have to take special care to listen to its cues carefully.  what may seem like hunger might be thirst, or what might seem like a craving could be boredom. take the time to listen, and then try to make the best choice possible. 
  • don't forget the exercise.  though you may be tired, if you're not really sick, exercise can help. i'm not a health professional, but i know that, for me, when my symptoms don't indicate an infection or virus but more like the under-the-weather blues, i feel much better, on multiple levels, when i include exercise into my day.  even hard cardio can sometimes be doable if you are mentally determined and focused on the task at hand. that said, listen to your body. you may be more able to exercise vigorously earlier in the day, or nighttime might be your peak time.  whenever you do exercise, push yourself but don't push yourself to total exhaustion.  get your heart rate up a little, and see if your symptoms don't diminish a bit. working your body can sometimes help your body work.
  • do cut yourself some slack. if you're on a restricted diet, consider easing up on your caloric restriction and focus on maintaining until you begin to feel better.  it will give you some room to include some comfort food (one of my favorites is pita pizza) without feeling totally guilty or derailing your weight loss goals and progress. 
illness is part of life, and so is making healthy choices. in these times, when stress and weakness can make it easy to fall back into bad patterns. it doesn't have to happen, though.  keeping your eye on a few key strategies can make it a bit easier. 

every good choice you make in extraordinary circumstances, then, is even more of a triumph! 


    one I totally believe in as well.
    rarely achieve (hello CARTONS! :)) but laid out so concisely and clearly and honestly.

    love ;)


  2. LOVE this post! And love the one about the cartons for SURE. I'm forever telling my husband not to hand my son THE BOX of cheese-its or whatever. I would also add for myself (and often do) NOT to eat food that can be given to me while I remain sitting in my car.

  3. love these tips!

    measuring is my biggest thing. allen makes fun of me all the time. he will be like "you know that two cups of cereal fits in the cereal bowl. it's always two cups!" but i feel like i truly know what i'm eating when i follow the serving size.