Sneaky, sneaky!

Anyone on a regimented diet program; like Medifast, Atkins or various others; quickly learns to read labels looking for hidden little diet bombs that will blow any hope of progress. One such item is sugar in its various forms.

Many people think, “Time to get healthy.” So, they switch to “fat free” and “diet” items. They also decide to eat more veggies and fruits. Changing what you eat to reduce your intake of fat is admirable, and expanding your diet to fill up on healthier options, like fruits and veggies, is also fine. The problem is what the food producers do to these.

Most “fat free” items have sugar in various forms added. This is because it’s the fat which makes foods so satisfying. Without it, they would be bland and unsatisfying. Of course, since our bodies crave the simple fast energy provided by sugar, they can fool us into thinking the food is still as tasty by putting in sugar.

The most surprising for me was learning that many “healthy” foods are doused with sugar as well. Most canned green beans, for example, have added High Fructose Corn Syrup. So here you are trying to get healthier by eating more greens and you get torpedoed by hidden sugar. And it helps no one to start eating fruit only to also consume it with sugary syrup. In this case it would be better to take a vitamin supplement and fiber instead of the fruit.

Look for fresh and frozen greens, and fruits that are either fresh, frozen or packed in water alone. Always check the label. It is that little unexpected addition used by the processor that can just destroy your diet. Their bottom line and your waist line have very different needs.

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The Dieter’s Challenge

Lamar's Donuts

Yesterday I faced a particularly strong temptation. It was Sunday, and every few weeks the ladies will bring in a selection of donuts for everyone to enjoy with coffee. I have always loved donuts—particularly the cream-filled, chocolate covered bundles of happiness.

Of course, on my program I avoid simple carbohydrates especially sugars. Usually such things hold no temptation for me, after so long on program. For example, for the last few days we’ve had a box of Christmas cookies on the counter brought home by my wife from a volunteer project at her work. I pass those several times a day and have not the slightest desire to eat a single one. Now, if they were Girl Scout Thin Mints that would probably be a different story. I’m probably the only man who would run away screaming if approached by a Girl Scout because I know those little chocolate mint cookies are like crack cocaine—try just one and you wake up surrounded by green boxes with a serious sugar hang-over.

Most Sundays when the church has donuts I am not fazed. However, for several reasons that combined perfectly yesterday I found myself strongly tempted to have one. I found them talking to me every time I entered the kitchen for a refill of coffee. Now, I’m no stranger to talking food. Food has spoken to me most of my life. Bacon often speaks to me and I am quite fluent in bacon. My wife will make a plate of bacon and give me three pieces—like that could ever be enough bacon. But then she leaves the rest there on the counter and the conversation begins:

“Hey Ken. Look at us down here.”

“No. I don’t want to look.”

“Oh. Come on. You know you want some.”

“No. I can’t. I’m on a diet.”

“Come one guy. Do us a favor. We’re lonely just sitting here.”

“Sorry. I can’t help you.”

“Come on. Please. Please eat us.”

“Well….maybe just one more piece.”

Then when my wife enters the room I hear: “Where’d that whole plate of bacon go?” To which I can only be honest and respond, “They were lonely and made a convincing argument that I should send them all to be with their friends in my belly.”

I speak fluent bacon, and yesterday I discovered that I am also conversant in donut. So what is a guy to do when faced with such a temptation?

I handled the temptation by approaching it as a challenge. I knew I would be faced with the donuts for several hours and would often be alone with the little tempting fiends. I decided to challenge myself to make it the whole morning without having a single one. I dared myself, if you will, to not have any. I saw this as a chance to prove to myself that I had changed and would not just resort back to unhealthy eating habits. The good news is that I made the whole morning without eating a single donut. When you find yourself tempted with foods you should not have, remind yourself of why you should not have them and then challenge yourself to not give in to the temptation.

Of course, bacon is such a superpower that it always wins the challenge. If challenged by bacon the only choice is to run, or surrender. I’ve actually had a piece of bacon forcefully open my mouth and jump in. Bacon suicide is not a pretty thought, but a real phenomenon. Don’t believe me? Neither did my wife.