I'm at work and doing fine. Cookies are on the first floor. I know this because I spotted them earlier. I turned my nose up at them at 10:30 a.m. But now it's just after 3 and I suddenly feel like I'm in the Hunger Games and if I don't get sustenance NOW, I won't be able to help Peeta back in the cave. I race down the stairs and make a bee-line for the kitchen. Living up to a college nickname of Hoover Hilda--yes, a friend dubbed me H.H. when he saw me consume two sno balls in under 2 minutes--I quickly inhale the cookie and whatever isn't tied down within a three-foot radius of the platter by the fridge.
I feel okay in the moment. Hunger has temporarily subsided. But it's not too long before I begin to experience that unhappy "food hangover" feeling---that mix of regret and that "I-really-shouldn't-have-eaten-that" sentiment. It's followed by anger at myself and a headache or stomach-ache or both. I feel bloated, unhappy. I'm not satisfied physically or emotionally.
I don't like that feeling. I want to make choices that leave me happy today and happy tomorrow, too.
I have been in both places--food-hangover-ville and panza-llena-corazon-contento land (full stomach, happy heart). I'd rather be in the latter. Here's what helps me get there.
1. Planning ahead. Granted, it takes a little work ahead of time, but the payoff is worth it, for me and my family. Going to a day-long conference? Skip the predictably sticky pastries and processed muffins offered mid-morning. Bring your own nuts, cheese, or beef jerky. Going on a business trip? Avoid the pricey (and mediocre) airport food by taking some trail mix or hardboiled eggs with you. I went to see "Interstellar" this week (it's mind-blowing--go see it) and I packed homemade popcorn for me and the fam (click on link for recipe) and, of course, kombucha. What I prepare is tasty and nutritious---a far cry from the aforementioned sno balls.
2. Eating at least three meals a day. I know it happens; people skip meals all the time. Work can get overwhelming and you hardly feel you have time to breathe, let alone grab a bite. My daughter Cristina and I were in NYC recently (see vid for the big picture, literally) and we stopped in a little bakery around 6 p.m. just to take the weight off of our feet. A man in a business suit seated next to us was eating a pastry and swearing to his colleague that it was his first meal of the day. I felt so sorry for him! Not only was he only just getting around to eating but he was eating mostly sugar and refined flour. I make eating regularly a priority so that I won't get so ravenous that I'll make poor choices.
3. Getting the biggest bang for my buck. There are moments when I'm out and about and I'm unprepared. Hunger strikes and I'm getting that H.H. feeling. At work this week, we were celebrating a coworker's birthday. On the cart were cupcakes alongside cups of fruit. Either could easily immediately gratify a sweet tooth. But I knew only one would satisfy on a deeper level. I went for the fruit. Whenever I'm faced with a choice like this, I "upgrade." I go for what's closest to real. I'll choose seltzer with lime over the Sprite, cheese over the cheese-flavored Doritos, etc.
Following these tips makes me feel like this:
Sometimes we get selective amnesia and forget what a poor food choice will do to us. That sno ball is whispering your name and you succumb to its charms. Hey, it happens! Whatever you do, don't condemn yourself. That only makes the hangover worse, emotion-wise. Healthy habits take time to build. Just breathe, forgive yourself and move on. And remember for the next time: