So… it’s Monday afternoon and I’m craving custard doughnuts: soft, squidgy, lightly dusted, freshly cooked on the premises, 5 for 50p, custard doughnuts from my local supermarket.

But, I’m on a healthy food & activity plan (diets don’t work!) and have done well so far – losing 13lbs in past 11wks. So how do I resist taking a brisk walk (or more likely, a very short car journey) to said supermarket and indulge in my craving??

Is it really a treat?

So often I hear myself say “I’ve done well this week and I deserve a little treat”.  Or, as in the case of today where I’ve only lost 0.1kg in the past week “Sod this healthy eating lark, it’s obviously not working, what the heck, I’m gonna eat the doughnuts anyway!”

But are they really a treat?  The Oxford English dictionary definition of a ‘treat’ is: ‘to have something which gives you great pleasure’.  So yes, eating five fresh custard doughnuts would give me momentary great pleasure… but that’s just it, the pleasure is purely momentary.  Within ten minutes of eating the whole packet I would be beating myself up, thinking in a catastrophic way, feeling guilt & shame, planning (but never doing) some compensatory exercise, and thinking a great deal of negative thoughts about who I am: useless, worthless, pointless, stupid, selfish, lacking discipline etc.

On a nutrition basis (and I’m NOT a qualified dietitian or nutritionist) according to My Fitness Pal, each doughnut has 202 calories – so a box of five equals 1010 cals,  which is 2/3 of my daily intake.  There’s also a total of 21g fat (10g being saturated fat).  There is 2g fibre and 4g of protein in each doughnut, but there are much better ways of obtaining both macronutrients! There is no Vitamin A & C present, no calcium and no iron.  The 26g of carbohydrate in each doughnut – so a total of 130g per pack – would quickly spike my blood sugar levels and cause my body to produce insulin to remove the sugar from my bloodstream – either into my muscles (stored as glycogen) ready to be used for exercise / activity, or into my fat cells which will then produce hormones which mess up the homeostasis of my body.

To burn off this energy with exercise, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (who provide a great calculator for personal use), I would need to do:

1 hour 37 minutes of leisurely swimming (and end up looking like a prune) OR
1 hour 18 minutes of cycling (possibly a bit less in hilly Wakefield, W Yorkshire!!) OR
1 hour 46 minutes of badminton OR
2 hours 46 minutes of walking OR
2 hours 56 minutes of vacuuming (that’s beyond comment!!!!!) OR
2 hours 33 minutes of gardening (I’m sure James my landlord would appreciate me doing that!) OR
1 hour 46 minutes of lawn mowing (I don’t have a lawn, and my neighbours have artificial grass) OR
5 hours 23 minutes of ironing (hmm…!!!)

Other strategies

So if that’s not enough to deter me from eating the five delicious custard doughnuts, what else can I do to prevent a lapse?

Pray! As a committed Christian I’m very grateful that I don’t battle these difficult decisions on my own.  I can ask God for help and He promises to do just that.  It really does work.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.  1 Cor 10:13 (NIV)

Phone a friend! Which thankfully is what happened this afternoon – I had a great 15 min catch up with my friend Maggie, who just so happened to ring when I needed something to take my mind off of the doughnuts.  Support networks are vital when you’re doing behaviour change of any description.  Friends, family, work colleagues, support groups (like Overeaters Anonymous in my case), a good GP / nurse or hospital consultant – they all play their part in encouraging me to keep going, stay committed to the cause, and make right decisions in tough situations.

Visualise! One of my best strategies when tempted, is to visualise my reasons for wanting to lose some weight and get healthier.  I always carry with me photos of my various Physical Challenge achievements that I’ve done over the past six years since losing 10st.  Things that I couldn’t have done before losing my weight and getting fitter.  I also carry with me a photo from 16/8/17 of me, unconscious in ICU following my heart attack.  I really don’t want to go back to that!!

Journal! I’m a strong advocate for journalling – just the action of getting thoughts out of my head and down on to paper really helps me to focus on what I can change, what I can’t, and to come up with an action plan to turn things around.  Alternatively, write a blog about your situation.  This blog article has kept me happily distracted for the last hour!  It’s now time to head out for my brisk evening walk – and I can do so with a smug smile on my face, knowing that I’ll be burning stored fat, not the 1010 excess calories from five custard doughnuts!!

So I hope that this has helped you – or at least provided you with a short distraction from your own food craving!

Until next time…