Quitting is a moment to moment effort. Eating foods that you are in the process of quitting is a decision you make in the moment. Deciding to eat a sugary dessert is a decision that needs to be made ahead of time. For instance, if you make a half gallon of deluxe home made ice cream for a birthday party, you might decide that when the time comes, you are going to enjoy a taste of it with the rest of your guests. Eating sugar that way, mindfully, and intentionally is never going to be a problem for you. If you are serious about cutting habitual sugar consumption out of your family’s menu then you will have to make these decisions in this way.
Your main problem is going to be cutting the sugars out of your diet that you do not put in. Buying reduced fat milk is a perfect example of this. You are trying to cut sugars out of your diet and you are buying low fat milk thinking that low fat is a laudable goal for your family, and the maker of the milk has included sugar to replace the flavor that they took out when they reduced the fat. Think about it, if the label on the milk carton said, “sweetened milk” instead of “2% Low Fat” would you be more or less likely to purchase it? It would in fact be the most accurate label you could put on it, “Sweetened 2% Low Fat Milk”.
In fact every reduced fat product out there contains a corresponding increase in a carbohydrate, so you have to be ever vigilant when making your purchases, and you have to be mindful not only when making mealtime decisions, but when making menu decisions at the store. There are a great number of moments in the market when you have to be on your toes to avoid bringing hidden sugars and starches into your diet from there.
Yesterday I had to make decisions based on a change in my work schedule. Suddenly finding out that you will be at work for sixteen hours when you went to work ready for eight is a big change to the day’s eating plans. Now I would not be eating at home, but I would be eating from food that I had at work. Sometimes that involves getting a carry out sandwich (bread), sometimes it involves eating canned or bagged food from a vending machine (mystery), and sometimes I am ready with leftovers from home, which is in fact what happened yesterday. The leftovers though included rice, and sweet baked beans from trips to restaurants from last week and weekend. It was a lot of starches and some sugars, but my choices were severely restricted, due to the rural area I work in. I decided that what I had on hand was the least bad choice of a range of bad choices. In order to be more prepared for this eventuality, I need to be mindful of this need when I am making buying decisions at the grocery store my next trip. I have let my stock of reduced sugar and starch-free foods dwindle and yesterday I paid for that with restless sleep due to carbs burning off in my system.
The absolutely most important thing to do if you find that you have to violate your eating principles is to renew your commitment to your principles. If your plans fail, make new, improved plans as soon as possible. If you know that you unintentionally ate foods that you didn’t cook, that you had to by circumstance, or that turned out to be bad for you, then you need to think about how you came to be in that situation. Any time your plans are proven to need correction, then this bad outcome can be turned into a great outcome by providing you with an occasion to change your mind. Changing your mind for the better is what smart people do when they figure out they are not as smart as they thought they were. Who among us really is?
A Sample of the decisions I have to make. This just showed up for us to decide to eat or not at our morning coffee break.