Rituals. I love them. They bring order, routine, and reduce my stress level tremendously.
As a matter of fact, I credit my success in portion control in large part to having created a satisfying post meal ritual.
Keep in mind, I am not promoting my rituals as the end-all be-all of rituals and that following exactly what I do will amount to your success. In fact, I believe that if you try my ritual exactly as is, you will hate it and find it very unsatisfying. This is my PERSONAL ritual based on my palette. I offer you my rituals in hope that you will set out to discover if creating a food routine will provide you with as much self control and satisfaction as it has provided me.
Ritual #1- I eat every 3 hours. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing, I need to eat at the 3 hour mark. If I do not and wait closer to 4 hours, I find myself famished and unable to control my appetite. If I eat too early, I’m not hungry for a meal, will eat too little and then am unable to make it another 3 hours without a snack.
My friends laugh at me b/c I am a grown woman with a lunch box. I pack my meals with as much thought as I would packing my daughters diaper bag. I need to be prepared because when I am hungry and my blood sugar drops, I find it very difficult to think clearly, I get irritated by very little, and I become stressed over nothing. I avoid hunger by being prepared for it. I don’t wait for it to punch me in the face anymore. It always wins! My lunch box will always have a lean protein, an easy to carry vegetable, a small fruit a whole grain or Greek yogurt.
This brings up Ritual #2- All 5-6 meals throughout my day end by either a serving of my favorite whole grain, oatmeal, or a serving of Greek yogurt. Both of these items are crucial in triggering my brain to understand that meal time has ended. The kitchen and my mouth are closed for another 3 hours.
The important thing to note here is that I LOVE both of these items and that is why this strategy is so successful with me. I have no problem forgoing whatever carbohydrates I have fixed my family for dinner in order to save my whole grain for last. In fact, I look forward to my oatmeal no matter what time of day it is! (It’s really not a normal love affair I have for oatmeal!) Both the oatmeal or the Greek yogurt are accompanied by a tablespoon or two of almonds, cinnamon, and often times some berries to add more natural sweetness. I view these items as my (nutritionally sound) desserts.
I realize that to many eating every 3 hours sounds daunting and that oatmeal and Greek yogurt are nothing but flavorless, mushy foods. I don’t expect that my two strategies are the missing link for everyone, however the idea is that Ritual #1 allowed me to discover my natural eating pattern. I make no apologies if I break out my lunch box in the middle of line at the bank or in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. Hunger creates a hard to control binge pattern for me which I am now equipped to avoid. Ritual #2 has allowed me to find a way to balance my need for sweetness at the end of a meal while maintaining fitness goals.
I encourage you to find rituals that provide the same for you.