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Tossing the Junk

One of the things I have had trouble with while dieting is avoiding snacking rather than eating meals. In September I changed my diet to be three meals a day, doing away with snacks in order to save my calories for a really filling meal.

To keep myself on track, I threw away all my snack food.

You know this stuff: it's the mac-n-cheese boxes you bought on sale, brownie mix, cookies, a candy bar or two, crackers and cheese, even bowls of cereal that you can pretend are actually healthy. When you're ranging around the house wanting to chew on something, this stuff is right there, and before you know it you've eaten 350 calories of food you didn't need to eat. A week or so of that and you've gained a pound without really trying.

So I threw it out. All that snack food. It was an enormous waste of food (actually, not so much because I had eaten most of it, but I filled one trash bag). But then it was gone and I made a decision to stop bringing it in the house (if you have a partner who brings this stuff home and won't stop to help you out, I have no help for you; if you have kids, remember that you're the parent, and you're the one who gets to decide what they eat). When I only had food for my three meals, I found myself snacking a lot less. I would feel a little hungry, and check the fridge. There would be makings for a whole meal, but that seemed like too much effort. So instead I would have a glass of water and walk around a bit, or take a break from what I had been doing to read a book or do some knitting. Usually feeling hungry was just being tired of doing work I was not enjoying, or being bored with something tedious.

I also got rid of snack food I used to keep on my desk. I'd find myself eating that all afternoon instead of having lunch and then dinner, so I dumped it and made a ritual out of going to have those meals instead. It actually didn't work out to fewer calories to eat that way, but my digestion improved and I was eating much healthier foods than I had been.

Christmas is the worst. Everybody gives you chocolate and cookies and cake, and you go to cocktail parties with trays of food lying around to graze on. So I set a deadline: anything left after January 6 (the Feast of the Epiphany, and the official end of Christmas) goes in the trash or gets given away to somebody who wants the calories. I don't need it, and I don't want the consequences of eating it.

You'd be surprised how easy it is to throw away food. When you make the decision, it feels so freeing, as if you've thrown away some of that body fat. Better, of course, is to not buy the stuff in the first place, but we're not all perfect all the time. Instead of eating your way through your grocery store mishaps, give them to a food bank (now that Christmas is over they will need your donations) or throw them away.

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