It’s that time of year! All of the camping, weekends away, frozen ice cream and popsicles, beers on the patio and drinking in the sun. And while I want you to enjoy your favourite summer treats, I also know that if you’re like most clients the sheer volume of extra opportunities can lead to mindless munching, weight gain, bloating and feeling off track. Here’s how to find the happy medium between enjoyment and healthy eating.
3 ways to set up your home environment for success
Research on human behaviour shows us two things.
- The more we have to see, walk by or think about a food, the more likely we are to eat it. I think of this as wearing out your “no” muscle. Every time you walk by those Purdy’s that live on the kitchen counter you have to use cognitive control to pass them up, and eventually your brain gets tired of saying no and says yes. With so many treats and extra social opportunities around, this can really add up over summer. Not to mention these mindless grabs rarely are savoured, so don’t add a lot to enjoyment or lowering cravings.
- The more VOLUME of foods we have on hand, the more we’ll eat. But here’s the catch – you will feel like you ate a normal amount. Tricky right? If you have tons of popsicles, beers, snacks for summer bbqs and beach days piled up you will eat more when you decide to enjoy them. It’s just human nature.
Here’s how to manage those challenges (without missing out on the good stuff):
Out of sight
- Keep cookies, chocolates, chips and other kids or party treats in the cupboard. If you’re particularly tempted, try keeping them in one you don’t look in often or up higher/lower than you usually have to access. You can still grab them when you want them, but you won’t have to constantly work and wear out that “no” muscle. My treats live in a basket in the highest cupboard. I can pull it down and pick something out when I’m ready, but because it’s opaque (and a little above my eyeline) it doesn’t cause constant cravings every time I see it.
Keep volumes low
Know thyself. If you munch more often or just more food when there’s lots around then find ways to limit the volume. Some strategies clients are using include:
- Freeze extras of desserts, baked goods, or heavier dishes you took to a BBQ o
- Buy just enough beer, wine, or white claws to get you through the week so you’re not tempted to crack one just because on a mindless Tuesday night
- Ask friends and family to give you less – most of us don’t need 24 of each cookie that Aunt Kim makes, or work friend Susan bakes. If someone routinely gives you huge amounts of food, just be honest and kindly let them know that you LOVE their baking, and you would appreciate a smaller amount so you can balance your eating.
- Having a structure for when and how you enjoy treats that are in the house can be super helpful! For some clients that may be X times per week, or only on certain days or with company. Decide what feels good for you – not too restrictive, but still supports your healthy eating, weight, energy and gut health goals. Here’s a few examples clients have come up with:
- Only bringing out baking for company or at Christmas events
- Cookies come out on Friday nights for movie night with the family
- Enjoy sweet treats 2 x per week
- Trade in their usual weekly pizza night for healthier takeout, and know you’ll have a few extra adult bevvies on a patio that week
- Skip office treats or take home so they can be eaten mindfully
- No treats during the week, but enjoy something delicious once a day on the weekend
Pick a structure that works for you, and be reasonable. Trying to avoid everything all summer is probably going to fail because you’re human, you’re better off to set the bar at a height you can actually have success with to stay consistent instead of falling into all in/all out patterns of dieting and overeating.
What strategies do you use to stay healthy around all the extra drinks, patio food, and travel eating all summer – I would love to be able to share all your clever ideas over on Instagram!
Need some help getting your meals for the week balanced and prepared? If you’d like to receive our free Meal Planning Getting Started Guide AND get in on our weekly emails about all things nutrition so you can get clarity and confidence on what you’re eating, join us here!