If your fridge and pantry are filled with junk food, toss it

Clean eating is an absolute must if you are going to lose weight and keep it off.

The temptation to make unhealthy eating choices is darn-near constant in our society.

Every corner we turn, there’s a fast-food joint or coffee shop offering fattening meals, drinks and snacks. Supermarket shelves are lined with food we know we shouldn’t eat: processed garbage, refined carbs, high-fructose this, partially-hydrogenated that, and so on. Restaurant menus seduce us with oversized portions of fat, salt and, of course, more sugar.

Even worse is when our home pantry and fridge are filled with unwholesome foods we crave and have trouble saying no to. Is it any wonder this nation struggles with obesity?

When clients come to my studio to discuss weight loss, I assign each of them with a seemingly simple yet profoundly difficult task: Clear all the trigger food (any food that triggers overeating — most often sugary and fatty, or salty and fatty) out of the house.

Their reaction is generally a mix of fear, dread and a sudden desire to bolt from my studio and never return. It’s hard to let go of food we are so used to (and quite possibly addicted to) eating, but it is an absolute must if you are going to lose weight and keep it off.

Ah, I’ve heard all the reasons why you just can’t clear your kitchen of trigger food, and I will hereby debunk them. Here we go:

“I’m not going to throw food away. It’s a waste of money.” Most trigger food is junk food, and throwing it away does you and everyone else a favor, but I’ll meet you halfway: If the food is unopened, donate it. If it’s already opened, buck up and toss it in the trash. Better to lose a few dollars via chucking it than to gain several pounds by consuming it.

“My husband will throw a fit if there’s not a half gallon of ice cream in the freezer and chips in the cupboard.” Ah, yes, a motto I lived by (unhappily) for many years: When in doubt, make it someone else’s fault. I choose to believe that your family members love you and will support your weight loss endeavor.

Ask him to indulge his ice cream craving outside of the house, or perhaps by buying the single serving portion at the grocery store (which they do sell). You can also encourage him to switch to a low-fat, higher protein frozen Greek yogurt, which you can both enjoy for less than half the calories of ice cream. And the chips? He can hide them in his pick-up truck so you are not faced with temptation each time you open the cabinet. Compromise is a perfectly reasonable request.

“If I cook healthy food, the kids won’t eat it.” Oh, yes, they will. Sure, they’ll initially squawk their disapproval that there’s no pizza or hot dogs for dinner, but hunger will win out. Added bonus: The earlier you get them on the healthy-eating train, the less likely it is they will have to suffer through the pain and frustration of obesity. You are doing them an enormous favor.

“I go berserk if I don’t have sugar at 4 p.m. It has to be available to me.” Great! I’m a big fan of sugar in the house — in the form of fruit. It might not feel as satisfying as a Twix bar, but you’ll still get your sugar fix, only without triggering overeating. Think about it: When’s the last time you ate an apple, lost control and wolfed down five more apples?

As for the grocery store, if you are tempted by all the fattening goodies strategically placed in your face in the aisles, I encourage you to take advantage of your grocery store’s pickup option. Most grocery chains now allow you to shop online via their website, then drive to the pick-up area where your groceries are brought out to your vehicle by an employee. It’s a fantastic service, eliminating not only the temptation to grab unhealthy items off the shelves, but also saving you time and aggravation.

I do my shopping this way every week and have always been happy with the quality of produce, fish and deli items picked out for me. Give it a try.

Bottom line: The less trigger food in the house, the better. A clean pantry and fridge equals clean eating, which results in fat loss.

Now get those Ding-Dongs out of my sight.

Catherine Bongiorno is a personal trainer, nutritional therapist and owner of Lift To Lose Fitness & Nutrition. Email her at info@lifttolose.com or visit www.lifttolose.com for more information.

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