You’re lazing on the couch watching a movie and who should call? Another Tim Tam, a third glass of wine or a salty packet of chips? Giving in to those urges once in a while is fine but if they become too regular you’re setting yourself up for bad diet and lifestyle habits. How do we stop that penchant for indulgence becoming a permanent part of our lives?

Emotional triggers

Our emotions can be triggers for overindulgence, often motivating us towards the confectionary aisle.

“We know the sugar will give us an almost instant surge of energy and temporarily give us a boost of ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, ” says nutritional counsellor Nikki Heyder from NOOD.

“But when you overindulge, your body is literally shocked, with the sudden intake of high sugar, high salt, high processed foods, and it leaves us feeling bloated and sick and lethargic before long.”

Similarly with wine, alcohol is an escape from reality and dimmer of stress or emotions, but it is not a long-term solution.

“The key to long-term healthy eating and weight management is being able to enjoy food but knowing when to stop, ” says Camilla Bibby, from Camilla Bibby Wellness Specialist.

“The best way to do this is to make a decision on exactly what you are allowed before you sit on the couch or walk into a restaurant.”

Plan ahead

Ms Bibby suggests removing yourself from environments that tempt you.

“If you’re eating in a household where others are indulging, this will have an influence on your eating habits too, ” she says.

“Plan your day the night before and decide on what you’re eating before cravings have the chance to affect your decisions.”

Ms Heyder says deflection is a great tool.

“If you feel a binge coming on, call a friend, go for a walk or read a book, ” she says. “A simple distraction will often result in us forgetting we even had a craving.”

Find an alternative

If we knew what was in many foods we would think twice about putting them in our bodies, so become educated on labels.

“Certain additives and preservatives may be seriously damaging your health; if you know what they are doing you probably won’t want to eat them anymore!” Ms Bibby says.

She suggests healthy alternatives for when those cravings hit.

“If you must have chocolate make it raw chocolate, or make up energising cacao balls of raw cacao, dates, walnuts and linseeds, ” she says.

“Pop it all in a food processor and roll into balls for a sweet treat.”

Ms Heyder suggests trying the natural sugar hit from fruit before you reach for the sweets.

“The fibre content of the fruit means you won’t get a rapid blood glucose spike and you will also get the added benefit of vitamins and antioxidants, ” she says.

Breaking bad habits takes time

It’s estimated that it takes about 12 weeks of practice to break a habit and instil a new (good) one.

Recognise that you may slip up and think about what you can do to avoid it.

Don’t punish yourself if you have a ‘bad eating day’— recognise the mistake you made, learn from it and have a fresh start the next day.

© The West Australian

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