We don’t believe in traditional, painful diets at Chicken Soup for the Soul because we don't think they work in the long run. In our diet and fitness books, we encourage our readers to change the way they approach food, not to be afraid of it. And we follow our own advice here in the office. Almost everyone who works here has lost weight while on the job. I think that is partly because when you are surrounded by fit people you feel motivated by their success, and I also like to think it is partly because our office is a happy place.
We know that a big component of eating is emotional hunger, not physical need. One of our regular writers, Rebecca Hill, made a big impression on me a few years ago with her story "Are We Full Yet?" from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You in which she describes how she learned to differentiate between physical hunger and emotional hunger. She recommends the "apple test": if you aren't hungry enough to eat an apple, you aren't hungry enough to eat.
That was a game changer for me. I started buying all kinds of apples, eating one every day, and having fun "taste testing" different varieties. I still felt that I was in control and I satisfied my emotional need for choice, even though my snack was always going to be an apple.
Speaking of variety and choice, another tip for painless calorie control comes from my friend Jennifer Quasha, also one of our regular writers, in her story "The Decaf Coffee Bar," also from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You. Here's Jen's strategy:
"Every night I give my kids some sort of dessert. While they attack it like pit bulls, I open my decaf coffee cupboard and choose between regular, hazelnut or vanilla coffee beans. I open the fridge and choose between milk, hazelnut-flavored milk, or vanilla-flavored milk. Finally I pick out a sweetener packet: pink, yellow, or green. Every night my options seem endless." What a wonderful way to fend off emotional eating, by actually giving your emotions a real treat: sweetness, variety, and choice.
Choice is the name of the game. Those strict diets that we have all tried that eliminate our choices are bound to fall short when it comes to satisfying our emotional needs because we are no longer in control. Instead, those diets control us and don't allow us to establish a healthy relationship with food and our bodies. So, this season, as you work toward your personal goal, try to satisfy your emotional eating needs and give yourself the gifts of choice and control. Make small, reasonable changes to your diet, and make sure that they give you something to look forward to each day.
Read a similar story from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You, "Taking Action."
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