As much as I hate to admit it, classes started yesterday here at WKU, and that means I have to go back to a much more challenging schedule . . . getting up earlier than I want, showering every single day (can you imagine?!), squeezing in exercise whenever I can, and—most importantly—eating on the go.
To be honest, it's a recipe for disaster.
And, because of all the stress, I can't help but find myself longing for the quick fixes—fast food, hi-cal carryout, frozen pizza and other meals that come in a box.
But if I start eating like that, we all know what will happen—my body will retaliate, and the scale will go up, up, up, and up some more
No, I can't give into those very strong desires, and there are two ways I'm avoiding doing that.
The first way I'm overcoming my stress-fueled desire for junk food is a trick you can read all about in my "Nothing beats a home-cooked meal" post. Suffice it to say that when school is in session, Dave and I try to cook all of our meals for the work week over the weekend. We have to be at school Monday through Thursday this semester, so we each cook one meal on Sunday and make enough that those two meals will last us four days.
The second way I avoid junk food when I'm this is busy is by making sure that I eat healthy snacks all day long--a snack between breakfast and lunch, another between lunch and dinner, and then sometimes a little one later in the evening.
These snacks don't have to take much preparation either—anyone can put a piece of cheese and and an apple in a bag or grab a container of yogurt—but I love making gourmet snacks so they are even more appealing. Last night I spent ten minutes making homemade salsa (tomatoes, red pepper, jalapeno pepper, onion, lime, and red vinegar), and I ate a half-cup of that this afternoon with a few tortilla chips this afternoon. (The homemade salsa makes store-bought salsa taste about as appealing as motor oil.)
I've also been known to repeatedly make cottage cheese dip to eat with raw vegetables like red pepper, cucumber, and carrots. (If you're interested, the cottage cheese dip—modified from Moosewood—is made by simply blending cottage cheese, feta, dill, and green onion.)
The result of eating little snacks like these all day—about every two hours—is that you'll never really feel hungry and, therefore, find it much easier to avoid unhealthy temptations. I put this theory into practice today, and by the time I left school, I didn't have any desire to pig out, which is usually the case with me after a long day at work.
By no means am I the first person to advocate this technique—we've all heard of it before—but it really does work. And it's especially effective when you're dealing with an unusual amount of on-the-job stress and fatigue.