Don’t Try To Finish Unhealthy Foods Before Starting A Diet
Everyone likes to try to finish unhealthy foods before starting a diet. It feels like it’s done and the temptation is gone, so we can now focus on our diet 100%.
It doesn’t work that way.
And here’s why.
The Problem With Trying To Finish Unhealthy Foods Before Starting A Diet
Have you ever said to yourself, you’re going to start a new diet, but before you do, you’re going to finish all the unhealthy food in the house? Because you’re not going to be having it again for a few weeks or a few months, and you want to make sure it’s out of the way and you’re not going to be tempted by it…
So you basically binge just before starting a new diet.
I have done that more than once. Probably every time I’ve started a new diet in fact.
And I think at my worst, I ended up bingeing on probably three and a half thousand calories in an evening, just because I wanted that food out of the way because I said I’m going to start my diet on Monday or start my diet tomorrow.
The 2 Problems With This Strategy
What I’ve realized that does is it’s two things and neither is particularly beneficial for you.
It’s going to make you feel ill on the day you’re starting your new diet.
And you’re also going to end up stigmatizing or demonizing these foods, which increases the chance you’ll turn to them if you feel any cravings, which increases the chance that you’ll end up bingeing.
Because you’re going to go through that cycle again of saying, “Okay, I’ve messed up. I’ve given in to my cravings and now I just need to finish it again and then get back on the diet tomorrow.”
And even if you don’t have them in the house, you feel that craving, you can still go out and get them.
Some Food For Thought
So rather than me sitting here and telling you that that’s wrong and not to do that, let me give you a few things to consider.
Long Shelf Life
Chances are that in most cases, these foods have a long shelf life of weeks or months. So even when you’re coming off your diet, or even when you’re taking a break from your diet, they’ll still be good.
So you didn’t need to binge them to avoid wasting them or something.
You’ll Want Them Again
If they’re foods you enjoy that do tempt you, then chances are you’re going to want them again at some point.
But because you ended up bingeing them to finish them, when you have those cravings again, and you go out and get them, you might end up with a fresh packet and then think, “okay, I need to finish this again.”
So you end up in the cycle of saying, okay, I need to finish all this certain food in the house, not have it again, have a craving, go get some more, finish it again. And you repeat.
Not Trusting Yourself
And the thing is that where you’re trying to be perfect with your nutrition plan or whatever eating plan you’re on, and you have these tempting foods in the house, you’re not trusting yourself to have control over those cravings.
I completely get where you’re coming from.
I’ve done it pretty much every year at the end of the year.
And that was even before I really had binge eating disorder, it was just kind of like my thing to say, “I’m not happy with the results I got with my fitness this year, but January is ‘new year, new me’ time so let me just finish all this food, get it out of my system, and get it out of the way.”
And then from the 1st of January, I’m a brand new person.
I’d wake up on the 1st of January or maybe the 2nd of January (because I would be a little bit lax on New Year’s Day and say, “That’s it, I’ll be super strict from now on!”.
January is a time of year that kind of sucks anyway, but when you kind of make it worse by having a super strict and really boring diet, it is a lot to try and process.
So if this is something that affects you or you’re considering how to handle tempting foods, when you’re about to start a new diet here are a few alternatives to consider.
Some Alternatives To Finishing Unhealthy Foods Before Starting A New Diet
Ask Yourself Why
Ask yourself, why you don’t think you can trust yourself to keep in control of your temptations. You know, there might be a reason for that. What is that reason or what is your relationship with those foods that are causing you to not trust yourself around them?
And a lot of the time we don’t actually have an answer for that.
Find A Coping Mechanism
Next up is to find a coping mechanism that’s going to help you with your sense of control. So when I say coping mechanism, I’m going to give you this example, which is what I use.
I like to run, it took me a few years, but I enjoy running now. I like the way it makes me feel physically. And I really love the endorphin high I get from it.
The thing is that if I feel heavy, if I feel bloated, if I feel that I’ve got food in my gut, then running is a lot harder.
I don’t get that endorphin high and it puts me in a worse mood. So when I’m starting to have cravings or temptations or feeling that urge to eat a little bit more or rather a lot more, what helps me is to remind myself of that endorphin high.
It slows down my thoughts, slows down my thinking and lets me sort of get control of my temptation and get control of my cravings again.
And it just gives me back that sense of control, which I might not always feel like I have enough of.
Or even if it’s not giving me that sense of control, it’s swapping that urge for satisfying something now with satisfying something tomorrow when I go for a run. So it’s that trade-off and if I can stop myself at that moment, then I’m going to give myself that runner’s high the next day.
Stop Trying To Be Perfect
Next is that you also need to get your head around the idea that a less-than-perfect diet or nutrition plan that you can stick to and that you can sustain is going to be better for you in the long run than a super strict diet, which you’re going to crash and burn on.
In moderation or in isolation, no foods are especially bad for you. Some have more nutritional value than others, but there’s no reason unless you have an allergy or have been advised by a medical professional to need to eliminate any specific foods from your diet.
So it is okay to allow yourself a less-than-perfect diet.
Going back to my January example, I can be super strict and I will probably end up slipping up on my diet by the 11th or 12th. So nine, 10 days.
If I allow myself some flexibility, and some leeway and don’t try and be perfect, then that diet I can probably maintain for months.
And if you think about your goals and what you’re aiming for, yes, you might make more progress in whatever period of time you go super strict.
But then what happens after that? Do you want to go back to what your starting point was, which might happen or do you want to find a way to make it sustainable and make those results last and make it part of your lifestyle?
That’s a very long-winded way of saying stop aiming for perfection, aim for sustainability.
Sharing Is Caring
And even with all that, if you’re still struggling and just want that food out of the house, rather than eating it yourself, share it with other people.
It has a couple of upsides in that you don’t put your body through that extreme level of intake and feel sick the next day.
You’re also building connections with other people in the process. And it’s just a much more fulfilling way to handle these foods, which you might not want in front of you or that you might not want around you.
Stop Trying To Finish Unhealthy Foods Before Starting A Diet
So to wrap this up, you don’t need to devour all the unhealthy or tempting foods around you if you’re planning on starting a new diet. Aim for sustainability rather than perfection.
The idea of needing to ban these foods suggests a slightly disordered relationship with these foods in the first place.
And it may be wise to look at an alternative approach that you find more fulfilling that shows yourself some kindness, and that allows you to build a little bit more trust and a little bit more confidence in yourself.