Help! I’m surrounded by people who eat junk food

Reader Question: I know one of the key steps in weight loss (or even in living healthfully) is to keep junk OUT of the house. But EVERY night lately I have to watch my roommates eat things like cookie dough (OMG!), oreos, ice cream, and cupcakes! Every night. Honestly, it’s SO hard for me –my brain just lights up when I see it and then it’s just in my mind. My roommates are active and thin, so this is fine for them, but it’s hard for me to constantly have the stuff in the house. I’m usually okay resisting it for a few days, but then the temptation gets to be too much and I feel so sorry for myself for not being able to eat it, that I end up caving and eating more of it than I would have if I had just given in the first time. But I also know that I can’t lose weight and eat cookies every night, either. Do you have any advice for me? The roomies already know I’m trying to watch my weight. I’m sure this is also relevant for people with kids or spouses who aren’t trying to lose weight.

I guarantee 10 answers to any healthy lifestyle problem posed, so here goes…

1. HEY GUYS! EAT STUFF I HATE, WILL YA? One approach is to ask your housemates to buy types of treat foods you don’t like, so that you feel less tempted.  I love potato chips but really don’t care for Doritos.  If people were eating chips around me I would have a tough time resisting, but not at all if they were eating Doritos.  If there are particular foods that are tough for you to be around, maybe they can swap those out for others that make it easier on you.  Or you can just plead with them to not bring home a certain specific food that you have the worst time avoiding. I might have to tell them, “Ladies, have anything you want, but pleeeease do not bring potato chips home!”

2. OUTTA SIGHT, OUTTA MOUTH. Ask your housemates to keep the treat foods in a separate cabinet/area, or at least out of the common area. This will prevent you from stumbling across these foods at times when you are searching for something to eat.

3.  MIND YOUR HUNGER. An old Korean saying is, Hunger is the best sauce. Everything is more enticing when the belly is rumbling. Make sure you aren’t hungry at the times your housemates typically start the junk food party because hunger is the quickest route to a willpower fail.

4.   JUNK FOOD = JUNK.  Junk food everyday is not healthy no matter what your size or activity level.  Even a body builder or ultramarathoner is doing themselves no good by having an Oreo fest each night.  Our bodies aren’t garbage cans.  Living a healthy lifestyle means really changing the way you view these foods.  They are nothing more than garbage marketed in ways that tap our emotions and desires (as you say, to make your brain light up).  You need to mentally and emotionally turn against these foods.  If you can view them as garbage, maybe you will adopt a bit of disgust for them and for the sight of your roommates eating them.  Watching someone shovel cookie dough which is essentially greasy butter, sugar and flour, into their mouth IS disgusting.

5. YOU ARE KILLING ME, OK!? Even though they know you are trying to lose weight, do they know how hard these particular moments are for you?  Share with them how much you are struggling with these moments and they might back off.

6. BACK UP PLAN.  Be sure to have your go-to foods when the junk comes out.  What are your favorite healthy snacks?  When everyone is eating cookies and chips, stick with your healthy go-to snack and then notice how you feel at times when you stayed on the healthy side of the tracks.  It feels GOOD.

7. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE. Passively attempt to change the norms in your household.  At night when the junk usually comes out, preempt it by whipping together a huge fruit salad with a tasty light yogurt dip and other such treats to begin to move the needle toward health.  A lot of times people eat unhealthy snacks because they are easy.  If you are willing to put a little effort into throwing together healthy snacks for the group, you are not only doing yourself a favor, you are changing your housemates habits too.

8.  HEALTHY FEELS…GOOD. The more consistently you eat healthy, the more unhealthy foods will not sit well with you.  Get your body un-used to eating junk so that junk becomes less tolerated.  If you don’t eat fried foods for a long time, you’ll be surprised how heavy they feel in your stomach.  A lean, light diet is so much easier on the digestion.  Also, notice how you feel the next morning after you have had a healthy food evening compared to how you feel after you have had an indulgent evening.  It’s amazing the difference.

9.  OVERINDULGENCE IS NOT A PRIVILEGE. We live in a society where somehow indulgence has become viewed as a privilege, beautiful, or something to be admired.  We envy people who can pile Oreos into their mouths and not gain weight, the girl who has a gorgeous tan, the guy who is juggling three girlfriends, and the friend who stays up all night getting hammered and partying.  These are not privileges. They are forms of gluttony and unhealthy living.  When we overindulge it is usually to fill a void in our lives or overcome pain of some kind.  The true privilege is to live a long healthy life that you feel good about at the end of the day and hurts no one including yourself in the process.

10.  KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE. Nothing worthwhile is easy.  Always be mindful of your goals and how you want to live your life.  Get an object, picture, or some such thing to put up on the refrigerator or a shelf that symbolizes what you are striving to be.  I don’t mean in terms of body size, but in terms of a good and healthy life.  If you can always stay focused on the big picture, the small challenges will become smaller in comparison.  In life, don’t let a moment be your master;  instead, let your purpose be your guide.

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  1. Ankit says:

    Mate you gotta realise that there are different body types in this world. They are active and not getting fat even though they eat so much junk food. And i am guessing that you have the body that gets fat easily. I am the same as you but I have strong discipline because I plan my meals rather than decide on the spot. I have a friend why always stays skinny no matter what they eat. However when she went to a doctor for a regular checkup, she was diagnosed as being obese (over 30% body fat) with a ridiculously high cholesterol. Whereas I, who is slightly chubby, had well controlled cholesterol levels and also I had 16% body fat. Obviously i have to lose more weight but that is a long term goal and I am positive that I will achieve it. If you really think about it then you will realise that you really dont need all the junk food because nature has not intended for us to eat it in the first place. I have been on a really healthy diet for about 6 months now and I have come to the point where if I eat junk food I get really nauseated and just feel like dying. So my friend try to plan your meals and prepare all the meals (except dinner) before hand and you will not falter. Also dont eat outside at all, unless its a big occasion. if you are catching up with a friend for lunch or dinner try to pick a gourmet restaurant and eat some food before you get to the restaurant so that you dont over eat.

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