Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Combating Diet Saboteurs Wherever They Lurk

Diet saboteurs may look like your friend on the outside, but don't be fooled. Look closer. Photo from Dreamstime.

BY JANET COOK, NYC Healthy Chick

As you create healthier habits in your life, you are sure to encounter the diet saboteurs.

They are in every crowd waiting to derail you every minute of the day. Some are harmless and some are just downright malicious. Dant Dah Dah Da ... have no fear, NYC Healthy Chick is here to save the day kinda like Underdog

So what do these saboteurs look like? They are disguised as coworkers, church members, significant other/spouse – even best friends and family. Isn't it crazy to think that they are capable of such a vile act? Unconsciously, they behave this way because they don't want you to change. The changes you are making force them to look at themselves and their own health. Remember the old saying, "Misery loves company"? People hate change and want others to stay stuck with them. They will do whatever they can to stop your from becoming empowered over food and unhealthy habits.

Add cayenne pepper and parmesan cheese to give low-calorie, nutrient-rich kale chips a little zing. Photo from AllRecipes.

What are some ways they sabotage you? They offer you junk food or an extra helping of food. Put a stop to this behavior immediately! The first step is informing offenders how important it is for you to make the necessary changes for a healthy lifestyle. Some will need constant reminders. Trust me, the payoff is worth it.

As new healthy habits give you increasingly more power over food, you will begin to inspire others to make small changes that will have a major impact on their health and quality of life. Take me, for example. Here I was out partying like a rock star, eating rich foods and drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Upon reflection, it was a lot of fun and exciting at times. It was also completely reckless. I suffered from bouts of depression, emotional highs and lows, lots of drama-mama moments, poor health, toxic friendships and relationships. Whew! … I'm exhausted just reminiscing about the good old days.

What changed for me? How did I go about addressing these saboteurs? Well, the change was gradual. I determined that my habits were not conducive to the lifestyle I wanted. I stopped going out with my drinking and eating buddies – I went cold turkey. Eventually, I explained that I was creating healthier habits and until I could form a solid foundation from which I wouldn't be derailed I was taking a timeout from everyone.

As I got stronger and more confident with my lifestyle changes, I began to hang out again with my old pals. I discovered that they didn't support my desire to change and be healthier. Eventually, I let these circles of friends go. At first, it was hard for me, the par-tay girl. But I would go on to create a space to attract healthier, happier more joy-filled individuals. For some cold turkey may be too drastic, but it worked best for me.

Oatmeal cookies are a healthy snack on their own or with additions such as nuts and raisins. Photo from AllRecipes.

If you feel you aren't reaching your health goals, check out NYC Healthy Chick's Quick Check List to Identify Your Diet Saboteurs:

1. How do they attempt to derail your healthy lifestyle choices;
2. Immediately disclose to family, friends and colleagues your desire to be healthier and how you would like to be supported;
3. When your diet saboteurs are slipping into old behaviors, kindly remind them that you need their support to fulfill your goals;
4. If diet saboteurs do not support your wishes, it's time to make a decision whether you can continue to be around them in the presence of food.

If you’re in a relationship or married this can be a delicate matter. A client recently disclosed that his girlfriend is his diet saboteur. It was her habit when they dined out to load him up with junk food or put her uneaten portions on his plate. We created a gameplan to put a stop to the unhealthy behavior without blame or shame. For example, when they sat down to dinner, he would gently remind her that he didn't want any extra helpings. It took some time and a lot of positive reinforcements, but he did it with great success. Plus, they improved their communication with each other.

Recently, I was asked by a client, "NYC Healthy Chick, how do I deal with the office saboteurs?" Offices are well-known saboteur sites. Everyone is under stress, and most use food and caffeine to numb or distract themselves from their emotional dis-ease. I suggested that this client ask everyone to limit or eliminate unhealthy food choices during office hours. I also gave her a healthy snacklist to share with colleagues. This inspired her to coordinate a mid-afternoon walk around the block instead of a 4 o’clock raid on the vending machines. Viola! This client experienced a shift. She was inspired and empowered to make changes for herself that had a ripple effect on her colleagues.

It's important to remind a diet saboteur of your goals, especially if the person in question is a signifcant other or spouse. Photo from Dreamstime.

While diet saboteurs are as inevitable as death and taxes, they don’t have to be the source of a downfall. We all have weapons to combat them and should use these weapons when necessary. One is to offer healthy snacks and/recipe ideas for home, work and social events – wherever saboteurs are.

And never fear, like Underdog, NYC Healthy Chick is here with a couple of crowd-pleasers:

Upgrade those played-out old party chips with baked kale chips ( Add your spin with a little sprinkle of cayenne pepper or parmesan cheese.

Everyone LOVES cookies at a get-together. Be heart smart & healthy with good old-fashioned oatmeal cookies. ( With each soft, moist, chewy bite, they are to die for.

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