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What Is Your Achilles Heel When It Comes to Food?

September 20, 2010 · 98 comments

in Health & Fitness

Everyone knows that we should eat healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables. However, many, if not most, people ignore suggestions by the FDA and eat whatever they want.   Not only that, but many also do not exercise.

So, what is the reason you do not eat healthy?  (C’mon, everyone has a lapse now and again. Well, most everyone.)  I am going to divulge my excuses, and I want you to share yours too.

  1. Time.  Life is busy.  I usually have a meal prepared either at home or I have something in the cooler for dinner.  But, sometimes I just run out of time, and I have to eat out.  I could go eat a nice salad with a tiny bit of dressing, but sometimes I crave salty fries once in awhile.  That leads me to my next point…
  2. Cravings.  I crave certain things.  I think I was born to be a carb-hound.  I love carbs in almost every form, except crackers.  Crackers could be wiped off the face of the earth and I would be just fine.  However, I love chocolate, and all baked goods.  I confess that I have even opened a can of frosting just to eat frosting, there was not a cake in sight.
  3. Socializing.  I am usually watching a sporting event each school night, so my socializing usually happens during the day.  The perfect time to socialize is lunch.   Sure, I could go walking with my friends, but I love having a chat while eating.  Plus, I really get kinda lonely eating at home all the time during the day.   The problem is, I don’t always make the wisest choices when dining out.
  4. Willpower.  This somewhat ties to number 2.  Some people can ignore cravings, other people can’t.  Some days are better than others for me.  I have found though if I eat a healthy breakfast and exercise, I have stronger willpower.  Or maybe the healthy breakfast and eating right curb my cravings.  Either way, I end up eating better when I start my day right.

So, what keeps you from either losing weight or eating healthy?  At this very moment, as I sit on the couch, I am promising to work on my shortcomings and truly try to eat better.  I will report back in one month on how I am doing.  I am hoping that now that I have identified my trouble spots, I will be able to find ways to conquer them.

Feel free to join me in my quest.  I would love the company!

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole September 20, 2010 at 8:15 am

If there is tasty stuff that is bad for me around, then I will eat it.

So we have zero junk food in this house, except two things that I don’t actually like that much: pretzels and gummy candy. I can resist those. Avoiding it at work is harder. Luckily I can only force students to give me one cheeto, not the entire bag.


Kris September 20, 2010 at 9:52 am

Nicole, I too try to keep temptation to a minimum around the house. My family loves Goldfish and such, which I dislike, so that is never a problem. I really need to avoid baking, because that is my downfall for sure. But I love to bake, and I like to make cookies for the kids periodically.


Nicole September 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

With homemade cookies, I stick a bunch of them in a ziploc in the freezer as soon as they cool down.


Kris September 20, 2010 at 6:42 pm

You are better than me. Homemade cookies don’t last long here…


Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 20, 2010 at 9:38 am

The cravings one has been a big challenge for me. At times, it feels that my sweet-tooth is insatiable. Like Nicole, I don’t keep this stuff in the house to preempt any temptations. I’m good around food with socializing usually (unless it is really, really, really good).


Kris September 20, 2010 at 9:54 am

Roshawn – My sweet tooth is like a demon on my shoulder. I have found that if I keep myself somewhat full with healthy items, my cravings are not as bad. In other words, if I am hungry, I look to satisfy it with things that are easy, and usually bad for me. Especially if I am out running errands, that is when I am tempted by the salty fries or a bakery item!


Mrs. Accountability September 20, 2010 at 10:56 am

I’m doing the http://www.gapsdiet.com and by sticking to the full GAPS foods I have eliminated 99% of my carb cravings. For years and years I vowed I would never diet and never restrict my eating and certainly NEVER EVER go low carb but after reading the GAPS book to help my husband with his diagnosis I realized maybe I could help myself to recover from depression and fatigue. I have gained back a lot of energy, have almost zero depression and anxiety. It’s been 9 months, oh and I’ve also lost over 50 pounds. I’m at 187# so I really needed to lose weight. I am so grateful I gave GAPS a chance. It was kind of hard at first, but my family continues to eat crap all around me and I am totally okay not eating it. It is wonderful not having to deal with cravings and never being able to stop eating until my belly is aching. I tried for over a decade to stop overeating and could not do it until I gave up most carb foods.


Carol@inthetrenches September 20, 2010 at 11:12 am

The definition of healthy keeps changing. I grew up on the 4 food groups and think they make a lot of sense and take food availibility into consideration. This means that I can still LOVE my butter and other things now considered unhealty. If I see the words “Fat Free” I steer away because it annoys me. I still think that the balance between food and excercise is important. No physical activity, no desert. Food that has no nutritional value is still “junk food” so I try to stay away.


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff September 20, 2010 at 11:56 am

The way we think alike is a little spooky. I just wrote a post about food expenses for Sweating the Big Stuff this Wednesday and I named off two reasons why we eat out – time and cravings. Weird. 🙂

I also enjoy fulfilling my cravings, so we have a ton of junk food at our house. Luckily, I only have specific cravings and can usually limit myself to one treat a night…otherwise I’d probably look like that blueberry girl in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory…


Suba @ Wealth Informatics September 20, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I just love food, that would be my main excuse :). My other main excuse is time. I cook most of the week’s food during the weekend, so that helps a bit. But during mid week I lose interest in eating food from the fridge and I start craving for fresh, hot food. We have zero junk food in the house on purpose, because I have a problem controlling myself to eat just one 🙂


Kris September 20, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Hi Suba – I know what you mean about craving fresh food. That is one thing about vacation – after a few days I am just dying for a home cooked meal. I cook similar to you. Sunday is a huge dinner, and then I pack leftover variations into the kid’s lunches, or create dinners out of leftover chicken or whatever. My kids have been so busy lately that I have been packing a lot of cold dinners to take on the road. I need to get out the crock pot and cook some chili, but it is supposed to be 87 tomorrow, so I am not super motivated.


Invest It Wisely September 20, 2010 at 3:24 pm

All of the above? One good way of combating this is by not buying that food in the first place. You can’t eat it if it’s not in your fridge or cupboard… 😉


Kris September 20, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I agree with you Kevin. However, some of my cravings hit me when I am out and about. I have found that I have to leave the house on a full stomach or I might be tempted to run in somewhere and grab something unhealthy, just because it is quick and easy.

Plus, I have kids, so I do have some snack items around for them.


Sandy L September 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm

My fatal combo is being in close proximity to food, while being sedentary (ie, working in home office or surfing). I graze and it’s BAD. Best thing for me is to be busy while not near a refrigerator or pantry.


Kris September 20, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Sandy – Ironically, I ate better when I worked in an office too. I packed a healthy lunch (usually) and didn’t have easy access to food. When my kids were little, we went on baking binges and all those baked goods would beckon me. Cookie and milk for breakfast? Sure! (That was in secret, couldn’t let the kids see that!)

I agree, being busy helps, as does staying somewhat full on healthy foods. If I am hungry and walk by a cabinet, then I am much more likely to grab something convenient and not as healthy.


Nicole September 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm

… and I had 3 pieces of pretty bad domino’s pizza (regular crust, so quite awful for me) because it was free and I forgot my lunch next to the door this morning. Hopefully I will still power through my 3 hours of teaching tonight without totally carb crashing in the middle.


Kris September 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Nicole – well there are worse things in the world than pizza for you eat. Not to mention free pizza is even better!

Hope there was no crash!


Rebecca September 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Hmmm… I think you all just need to trade places with me for a while and gain a tad bit of perspective.

About 20 years ago I was diagnosed with multiple severe food allergies. I’m allergic to a variety of spices, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, yeast, seafood and certain kinds of meat. This means that 90% of what’s sold in grocery stores and restaurants is off limits for me, and I pretty much have to make all of my own food from scratch since the FDA does not require spices to be listed separately on the label. Plus, anything that causes my blood sugar to fluctuate (like sugar and refined carbs) gives me terrible migraines. I used to see it as a terrible curse, but now I’m grateful because it’s given me a whole new perspective on food, plus I pretty much have no choice but to eat healthy.

There have been several times when I wasn’t allowed to eat anything but brown rice and split peas for weeks on end (while trying to sort out what was triggering my reactions.) It really wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I guess your motivation to change your diet gets a bit stronger when the price for not eating “right” is excruciating pain, or a trip to the emergency room with your throat closing.

I admit that I sometimes have a hard time feeling compassion for people whose only issue with food is will power. My advice is… next time you feel overwhelmed by the desire to scarf down a pile of junk food, try the brown rice and split pea diet for a week. I guarantee it will change your outlook on food!


Kris September 20, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Hi Rebecca! Yikes, I cannot imagine being in your shoes. Not only do you lose some enjoyment of eating the food, but you have to spend so much time preparing everything too.

I guess everything is relative. You are obviously in a much worse situation than me. However, I do sometimes have cravings that I think about and wish would just go away. No matter how lucky I may feel for having no major issues, my mind still says ‘eat something salty, now!’.

For me, I really think the biggest problem is eating enough small meals in a day so I am not food, and tempted to eat foods that are easy and bad for me. It is more as a result from lack of time than lack of self control. However, I obviously cannot complain about that considering what you have to go through everyday.


Rebecca September 21, 2010 at 3:26 am

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the whole cravings thing. Sometimes I think I’d kill for a good pizza! Here’s an example of the lengths my brain goes to in order to fantasize about getting to eat some of the forbidden foods: http://open.salon.com/blog/the_almighty_beckster/2010/02/01/what_would_you_eat_at_your_last_supper

The truth is, I’m sort of grateful for my “issues” because they forced my beyond the cravings. Not that it was easy. For years I had chocolate dreams. I’d dream that I was eating the most delicious chocolate, and it was just beyond delectable… like total melt in your mouth ecstasy. Then suddenly I’d realize that I wasn’t supposed to be eating it, and I’d be like “Oh NOOOO!” But then at some point I became aware of the fact that it was just a dream. That part totally rocked, because I could indulge in the chocolate without any repercussions!

But then a funny thing happened… Every once in a while I’d give in, and sometimes I’d even get away with it (especially with the sugar and headaches, the allergies are harder to trick). But when I did cheat, it never tasted nearly as good as I imagined it would! I suddenly realized that this is how cravings and psychological addictions work. The anticipation of the taste is much better than the reality. That’s sort of what I meant about the perspective thing. It’s not “stop your whining, look at how bad I’ve got it,” it’s the awareness that our minds and bodies can really play tricks on us when it comes to cravings and junk food. Getting beyond the physical addiction to sugar didn’t hurt either! Seriously, I once read that sugar is more addictive than cocaine! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/irene-rubaumkeller-/is-sugar-addictive_b_217115.html

Anyhow, sorry if I came off as “woe is me,” I guess sometimes it still just doesn’t feel fair. And I don’t mean to belittle the struggles that normal people go through, because I used to have those struggles too in the “before time.” I still miss pizza, but I am truly grateful for my perspective. I sometimes feel like I’ve been given a rare gift (well, rare in this society anyhow.) I’ve had the opportunity to experience what food really is.


Kris September 21, 2010 at 7:59 am

Rebecca – I totally get where you are coming from. Finding food that works with your system isn’t an easy process, and I cannot imagine the extra time and even money it must take for you to plan meals and such. I would be frustrated if I were you too, because it isn’t fair. I wonder why the allergies struck you later. (Not sure how old you are, I just know you said 20 years ago. I just usually associate allergies with little kids.)

You weren’t ‘woe is me’. You were just educating us on your situation!

Feel good!


Money Reasons September 20, 2010 at 6:22 pm

My problem, is lately I lack desire to lose weight. I keep starting, but something is keeping me down, perhaps it’s some type of mild depression.

I have loss weight in the past, but I was hardcore, weighing myself multiple times a day. It worked great and I looked good!

Flashforward to now. This may be the heaviest I’ve every been. I truly believe if the economy picks up, it would help alot. Silly huh… 🙂

I think I need to work out with weight (which helps slow the effects of aging as a side benefit!). I’ll start out slow but with a journal this time!


Kris September 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Money Reasons – maybe you just need to shift your focus to eating healthier instead of losing weight. Whenever I really think about how food is truly fuel for the body, I tend to eat better. Just like I wouldn’t buy the cruddiest gas from a shady gas station from my car, I shouldn’t be willing to put garbage food into my body. The problem is, I truly enjoy foods that are bad for me.

It is hard to find what works, as each person is different. I just want to eat healthier and exercise, and I am sure weight loss will come along with it in time.


Money Reasons September 20, 2010 at 10:08 pm

You’re right, I do need to eat better! Yogurt (vanilla) for breakfast and some vegatable for lunch (spinach, or something green!).



Kris September 20, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Money Reasons – quite often for lunch I have vanilla yogurt, covered in berries and granola. Surprisingly filling, and also good for you.


Squirrelers September 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm

It’s time and willpower that do it for me. Being busy (like many of us are), I tend to lose willpower when stressed or pressed for time. It goes together.

As far as socializing goes, I find that I’m able to do better in those cases than when alone. Maybe it’s the need to feel accountable, or wanting to assert myself by not going with the crowd….I’m not sure:)


Kris September 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Squirrel, we are in the same boat regarding time and willpower. However, I am getting a good routine that seems to be working out well and I am rarely eating out, unless it is with a friend.

My friends and I always split a cookie at lunch, so we are bad for each other!


The Biz of Life September 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Cookies and ice cream at night before bedtime….. the worst time to indulge.


Kris September 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Biz – cookies and ice cream would be wonderful. If I did that every night though, I would be giant. My desire for cookies ironically is first thing in the morning!


Ken @Spruce Up Your Finances September 21, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I’ll say for me it’s #2 craving. I’ve been eating healthy foods the past few months but when I crave for a food that I have not eaten for a while, I really won’t care if it’s healthy or not.


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