Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Diet Creep

No, I'm not a creep on a diet. Although I can't speak for everyone so if you think I'm a creep I'll have to square with that. My meaning is more the slow change in something from it's original position; similar to a slug moving in a garden or weeds propagating through a lawn.  Program managers know creep more frustratingly as schedules get pushed back due to various delays.

It seems that diet, or other healthy habits, can experience creep as well. One big difference is that this creep occurs from making attempted alterations to ones' lifestyle. Initially the change is easy, it's relieving to feel you're on track for getting healthy. Then the craving happens. The want for a little something else. Then craving, convenience or comfort come calling and chip away at the resolve. Eventually, you are back to the old ways and perhaps wondering what went wrong

So why am I writing about this?  I guess I'm just in a mode of noticing my choices a little more vividly. I tend to believe in moderation as opposed to abstinence for eating. Portion control and trying to make choices that put better things in your body are the focus of this. It's me trying to take a more realistic approach to food and looking for progress, not necessarily perfection. A bavarian creme doughnut is going to happen on occasion and as long as it's on rare occasion I can feel okay about that, but it's important to not let it creep into even a weekly occurrence. If that starts happening, then it becomes not a far stretch for the coffee to become a mocha. Oh and throw in a sausage biscuit because it's important to eat protein too.  It's okay, I'll have a piece of fruit for a snack and all will be forgiven.

I noticed a little food "creep" happen to me today at lunch. I have to admit I have a hard time staying away from Taco Bell. One of the good things about the local TBs is they do put the calorie count on the menu. so I know that a chicken power/cantina burrito comes in at just under 500 calories. I'll have just that and a water, or a small soda (half diet Pepsi, half Cherry Pepsi) and not feel too bad. Today I ordered that and at the last moment of the order threw in an order of nachos. As soon as I paid I felt that tinge of, "Joe, you really didn't need that". On a whim, I added something completely unnecessary to my meal letting my typical TB order morph into something less comfortable for me by the end.

So is there a way to prevent this creep before it gets started?  When I'm paying attention like this it will surely be easier to make the right decision next time. Although, in hindsight I think the creep started before I went to lunch. In fact, I think it started on my way to work this morning. I had bought some salad kits to make for lunches this week. Heading out the door this morning and half way to work I realized that I had forgotten my lunch. I was irked, but figured I could just run out and get something for lunch so no big deal. The nice part about the salad is that when I add some protein (usually pre-cooked chicken) I come in at around the same magic number 500 calories for lunch. I get water from works fancy new reverse osmosis system and everything is excellent.

There is something in the "I can just go get lunch" that puts the attempt at healthy, or at least moderated eating on hold. Almost as if I gave myself a free pass on lunch and that having the extra few hundred calories was okay. The reality is if it doesn't get reigned in quickly the options turn to even more consumption. Perhaps a post lunch frosty as Wendy's looks like it could use a little extra business.

I think awareness is the best prevention method for diet creep. That's why concepts such as Weight Watchers can be effective as they keep the focus on diet at the forefront. They can also provide alternatives when you really find yourself creeping. It's also important to be willing to be a inconvenienced. If I would have turned around and driven the extra 10 minutes to grab my lunch I would have saved time by not having to leave work to get lunch and would have felt better overall.   Not to mention the ~$7.00 spent on food. My home prepared lunches are typically half that cost.

In conclusion, diet creep is a real thing. It's mindfulness that can minimize its reach. Finally, it is important for me to realize that working to be healthy is a journey full of challenges and setbacks. Hitting a stride and seeing some marked progress is great, but having small amounts of adversity is what keeps me moving in the right direction.

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