You burst in through the front door on a Friday night and get hit up the face with the delicious smell of a freshly baked pizza and brownies.
What else feels this good right after a long day at work, and hard gym session?
The warm plates are sitting out, the food is on the table and your family (or better half) mumbles with a half-eaten piece of pizza in their mouth, ‘Sit down and have a few pieces, there’s got dessert too.’
You really wish you could, but there’s one big problem…
You are 2 weeks into your new fat loss diet and want to be in the shape of your life for once.
You know this type of food isn’t going to help you. It’s one of the reasons you need to lose weight in first place.
Add to that, you know this food and diabetes don’t get along. You’re anxious about the amount of insulin you are going to inject for the massive blood sugar spike you are about to experience.
But, in the famous lyrics of R.Kelly – Bump N’ Grind. Your mind is telling you no, but your body is telling you YES!
See, our food environment is a pretty big deal.
As humans, we make hundreds of decisions about food every single day1. This tends to get more challenging when you start dieting and get ‘hangry.’
When you live with your family, a partner or friends you are exposing yourself to their way of eating. This can be a problem…
Like I say in my book if you live with three other people who eat crap and don’t value a lean healthy body. There is a high probability that you will become the fourth person in the group.
Cooking and eating food has a massive social element that many people overlook. This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to food environment.
Just think of how awkward the following circumstances can be when you are trying to diet.
- Being asked out to a buffet meal with friends and family.
- Cuddled up on the couch for a movie with a brand new date who brought you a share size bag of M&M’s to enjoy.
- Eating at a restaurant with a group of friends and the breadboard comes out.
Then there are other factors like convenience and prevalence of junk food in your fridge or naughty cupboard.
IT’S EASY TO FEEL GUILTY
When you turn down someone’s cooking efforts, the surprise pizza order or that share size bag of M&M’s.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed, give in and say, ‘I’ll start back on the diet tomorrow.’ Which rarely ever happens.
Willpower Has a Fuse
It can run out, especially when you are under stress, and have to make hundreds of decisions about food on a daily basis.
When you’re tired and running low on calories, you are much less likely to exert willpower and far more likely to jeopardize your fat loss efforts by indulging in excess calories. Especially, if they are ‘offered on a plate’ or just down the stairs.
This relates to the model of behaviour known as “Ego depletion” 2
A large amount of scientific evidence (meta-analysis) by Hagger et al in 2010 showed that:
- Ego depletion significantly affected self-control task performance.
- Ego depletion was significantly affected by the degree of effort, perceived difficulty, perceived negative effects and subjective fatigue.
- Low blood glucose levels effected ego depletion negatively.
Given the fact, willpower is a limited resource.
It makes sense to elevate your food environment and improve it by removing unhelpful food choices that are contradictory to your end goal or not putting yourself there in the first place.
Changing Your Environment Can Help
Let’s take the same situation you were in earlier on. But, this time you don’t smell pizza or brownie, nor get tempted to ‘have a piece’ because you know your family, or better half sits down at the same time every single week to eat a takeaway.
Eating a filling meal before you arrive home grants you permission to use the, ‘I’ve eaten already’ excuse.
Or, if you live with a partner, you could tactfully plan your daily calories around the takeaway meal using an intermittent fasting style approach. Backloading your calories into the evening. Another solution would be to ask your better half to find a friend round to eat with.
Losing body fat is s a process that requires food restriction.
Sacrifices have to be made if you want to look a certain way or want to hit a target bodyweight. If your friends and family can’t support your goal, educate them on why you’re doing it and how it will improve your quality of life. In turn, letting you live life to the fullest.
If they can’t accept that, stick to your guns.
No one needs to eat pizza and brownies to fit in.
Having competed as a bodybuilder for many years I know too well how to enhance my food environment for muscle gains and fat loss.
Try any of these tactics if you suspect your environment is holding you back
- Empty your naughty food cupboard of sweets and confectionary. Out of sight, out of mind. Just make sure you keep some fast-acting acting sugars for hypo prevention. Sports drinks are perfect as they are the least likely food product to be consumed when you are bored or hungry.
- Diet soft drinks are great for killing a sugar craving and support fat loss due to their zero calorie content.
- If you use flexible dieting as an eating strategy, keep all junk food in opaque tins at the top of a cupboard so they are hard to see and reach.
- When the share board comes out, excuse yourself and nip out to the toilet. Tell the table to “eat away” and by the time you get back most of it will be gone.
- Avoid going shopping when hungry.
- Avoid hoarding junk food when it is on offer at your local supermarket. Before you place it in your trolley, ask yourself, ‘Do I need it?’
- Don’t walk down the sweetie isle when dieting. That’s just torture.
- Don’t watch Man Vs. Food or any form of bakery program when dieting. It might push you over the edge and cause you to say, ‘F**k it, let’s eat!’
- Increase your protein, and Fiber intake when dieting to keep hunger under control.
- Coffee (pre 5 pm) can help suppress appetite.
- Master your insulin dosing. Be mindful that a hypo will require you to eat. Keep your food environment in mind and do your best to consume straight sources of glucose rather than cakes and crisps which contain a lot of excess calories.
- Sugar-free jelly is ultra-low in calories and provides a temporary fill me up.
- You can also use the good old diabetes excuse and tell people that junk food doesn’t have a place in your diet. Obviously, make sure your friends and family know what a hypo is and what foods are best to treat it.
There are many other strategies you can use, but these are great examples. While you are here, make sure to check out the Diabetic Shred Guide a 112-day fat loss system for men and women living with diabetes. It contains everything you need to know about eating, training and living to get lean. You get weekly meal plans tailored to your metabolism and over 50 challenging workouts.