Every month, Nicky Forster will be answering questions sent in by our readers. Email yours to email@example.com.
Tandridge resident Anthony Woodley asks Nicky for help with a sweet-toothed issue:
"I struggle with my weight and have no willpower when it comes to sweets. With Halloween coming up, I know it will be hard to stop myself from raiding my children's trick or treat goodies when they're not around. What can I do to stop the temptation?"
This is a common problem for many who are looking to control calorie intake to lose weight. Kids’ food and dieting don’t go well together, with many of the foods aimed at children being high sugar, high calorie, poor quality food sources.
Although these are fine for children as an occasional treat, for us a ten-minute binge on them can undo any good work towards weight loss we may have done over the past few days.
But don’t worry, there are several tools we can use in these situations to help us stay on track.
The power of the mind
Firstly, the mind is a powerful thing, so to just say ‘no’ to yourself is probably not going to work. In fact, it’s likely to make you think about the treat even more, and ultimately result in you giving in. (And locking them away will have the same result.)
Instead, think about how you feel after bingeing on sweets: the physical effect of filling up, followed by feeling slightly sick. And picture yourself afterwards: you might feel guilty, annoyed and frustrated in yourself, which will lower your mood. If, prior to eating junk food, you can remind yourself that this will be the result, you are more likely to not do it in the first place.
Although thinking about success is a good motivator at the start of a new routine, thinking about what failure will look and feel like in the future can be a more efficient motivator. To lose weight we must be in a calorie deficit, so by regularly eating sweets you’re jeopardising the likelihood of that happening. Consider how you will feel in two or three years’ time if you haven’t lost any weight. You clearly want to make a change, so to still be where you are currently would probably not make you feel very good.
Both of the above are mental tools but, in many situations, the best way to control the mind is with the body. When you feel like snacking on something unhealthy, get up and get active instead. Go for a walk, hoover the house, mow the grass…it doesn’t matter what, just keep yourself busy until the urge fades.
Substitute poor foods with healthy options: an apple, some nuts and raisins or a rice cracker. The act of eating will in itself give some relief. It’s not the same as a bar of chocolate but you are swapping something that will destroy your weight loss efforts for another that won’t – a good trade off.
As with most things there is an element of resilience required, but the more you practice, the better you will become. Remember, if you fail on one occasion – or ‘fall off your bike’, as I call it – get back on and go again. One bad episode every now and then can be recovered from: after all, we’re only human.
Nicky Forster had a professional football career spanning over 20 years, playing a total of 721 professional games and scoring 221 goals for eight teams. He represented England at U21 level, playing alongside David Beckham and Phil Neville, and also managed Brentford FC. He now spends his time as a keynote/motivational speaker, and at The Spot Wellness Centre in Godstone.