Watching television exercises our eyes but nothing else. Unfortunately, it doesn't require us to do anything with our hands which leaves them free to grab something to eat. Then there are the food and restaurant commercials where everything is colorful and perfectly cooked. Don't even think about watching a cooking show: the temptation to snack or get up and cook is totally irresistible.
How can we break this self-destructive cycle? Any diversion may work for a while but loses its strength with too many repetitions. The secret is to have multiple alternatives available. If one doesn't work at any given time, try another. Mix and match as your likes, preferences, and moods dictate.
KEEP YOUR HANDS BUSY
When your hands are involved in a task, it is difficult to eat. Finger foods and dull television are inextricably bound together like flies in a spider web. Some activities to tie up those hands include: sewing, knitting, giving yourself a leisurely manicure (wet nail polish is a sure fire defense against eating), water the plants.
Turn the television off and try such pursuits as model making, card playing, videogames (that require both hands on the controls), sending e-mails, embroidery, and all kinds of crafts.
PREOCCUPY YOUR MIND
To bar thoughts of food from entering our heads and whetting our tastebuds, we have to keep our minds engaged, and our attention focused, in other directions. Clear away snack foods and dig into a riveting novel -- you won't want to leave the story for anything as mundane as fixing a snack. Start a daily journal and write about your thoughts and feelings and aspirations. Tackle one of those time-consuming chores you skip in your weekly clean-up: clean out drawers, work on the car, clean the BBQ, set aside stuff to go to Goodwill or storage, restring broken necklaces or re-organize your closets. All will help to keep your mind off food and no mental image of food means no consumption of food.
PRIORITIZE THOSE AROUND YOU
Play with your kids or help them with their homework. Go for a walk with your significant other and really talk about what is going on in your separate lives. At a long, safe distance from anything edible, call your parents or an old friend.
Do these techniques work? Sometimes. With regular effort and multiple task changes to maintain interest, they can be effective. For those days when nothing seems to work and the food cravings are overwhelming, we need to bring in the "big guns" which we will discuss another time.
Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker's Edge, she recently completed a psychologically-based weight control book: Diet with an Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook. She can be reached at http://www.DietWithAnAttitude.com
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