Junk food. It's everywhere! I can't avoid it at work because part of my job is to keep our kitchen clean and it's there, on the table. I can't avoid it at home unless I forbid all junk food period! Even if it's out of sight, I know it's there and I'll find it. It's not as difficult when I'm prepared and have healthy foods that I can eat, like fresh vegetables and lean sources of protein. But, even then I find it very difficult. I know what to do and what not to do. I have a food journal. I work out. Several years ago, I lost about 80 lbs on my own so I know I can do it. Is it just a matter of discipline? Is it that I need some accountability? I just feel powerless in restraining myself.

First of all, congratulations at being able to lose that much weight on your own! Losing weight can be hard work and you should feel very proud of yourself. Healthy weight management can be accomplished, but it sometimes takes a few things that you mentioned: accountability and discipline. For example, one of my co-workers reports to me weekly on her weight loss efforts. She does not expect me to offer words of advice and simply tells me that I hold her accountable. It can be helpful to have someone to report your efforts to…whether it is a friend, family member, or a dietitian. This way when you are faced with tempting “junk foods”, you may think twice about eating them, or at least choose smaller portions. You will know that this is something you have to report later, and this may assist you in asking yourself “is it really worth the extra calories?” You mentioned keeping a food journal. Sometimes the sheer act of recording everything you put into your mouth holds you accountable and helps you make healthy food decisions. For example, you may find yourself faced with mini challenges at work. A handful of M&Ms;, small piece of birthday cake, or the rest of a broken cookie will need to be added to the food journal. Knowing that you have to record these foods may help you to avoid consuming them.

Discipline is another word that you mentioned and can be defined as the “training that one gives one’s self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behavior”. If you have a weight loss goal in mind, then you will need to utilize discipline to consume a healthy diet that allows you to achieve your goals. As I have suggested in previous articles, a registered dietitian can greatly assist you in creating a healthy meal plan and helping you have “discipline” to stick to it. You will need to have discipline in situations where you are faced with a lot of unhealthy food choices. Some people have discipline by taking a small amount of your favorite food and chewing slowly/savoring it. Others feel that they have discipline if they avoid the unhealthy food all together. Discipline may be as simple as you telling yourself that you will always get the food you want, put it on a plate, and then sit down while eating it. This discipline will help you to avoid the hundreds of extra calories that you may consume while straightening up the work kitchen. I will say that following a healthy diet may require discipline at first, but it should still include food that tastes good, that is satisfying, and most healthy meal options can include some “junk” food as well.

Finally, in addition to accountability and discipline, begin using another word when thinking about your weight loss goals. That word is preparation. You mentioned that it was not as difficult to healthy when you have healthy types of foods around. If you are constantly tempted by sinful foods, start your fight at the grocery store. Avoid purchasing these food items and instead choose an improved counterpart. For example, if potato chips tempt you, either purchase baked chips or 100-calorie mini bags of popcorn. If you have trouble with ice cream, purchase sorbet or frozen fruit juice bars. Stock up on good-for-you foods that you can take to work. People are less apt to eat unhealthy foods if they feel full. Pack pre-cut veggies and hummus, fruit salad with yogurt dip, high fiber granola bars, low fat string cheese and flavored rice cakes.

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