Diet Traps are situations that get you into dieting difficulties over and over. Use this quiz to help you find yours. Check all answers in each category that apply to you.
1. I eat most junk foods when:
A. I’m watching TV or at the computer.
B. I haven’t eaten enough earlier in the day.
C. I’m out, or at a party.
D. I’m stressed out or alone.
2. I can’t resist:
A. A bag of chips.
B. A large fast-food burger on the run.
C. A bucket of movie popcorn.
D. Chocolate or bowl of ice cream.
3. The first thing I usually do after work or at the end of the day is:
A. Watch TV or go online.
B. Eat dinner; I work late.
D. Try to relax; I have very stress-filled days.
4. My friends would describe me as:
A. Scattered, but focused.
B. A go-getter. I’m always juggling a million things.
C. A social butterfly. I’m always with my friends.
D. A drama queen or king. I stress out a lot.
5. At work I typically:
A. Snack while answering e-mails or talking on the phone.
B. Skip lunch (no time).
C. Am the first one to indulge when someone brings in food.
D. Eat at my desk – it relaxes me.
Scoring: See which “diet traps” you’re dealing with, so you can learn how to cope.
If you picked two or more A’s, your diet trap is: Unconscious Eating
You’re sitting at your computer, tired and bored. You open a drawer and pull out a box of cookies. Before you know it, they’re gone. Sound familiar? Or you sit in front of the TV and consume a large bag of chips without even noticing. You can put away thousands of extra calories by eating without thinking.
Zap this Trap:
* Figure out your danger zones. TV, computer, video games, etc. … You might want to post a notice: “Think Before You Eat.”
* Drink more. A low- or no-cal beverage can fill you up and keep your mouth occupied, without filling out your waist.
* Have low-cal options around. Always keep calorie bargains available, and avoid having unhealthy food in the house. Portion your food in advance, not when you’re in a trance, so when you grab food you know it’s in healthy amounts.
* Stay mindful. Enjoy the smell, taste and texture of anything you’re eating. Never eat anything with more than 100 calories without taking at least 10 seconds to decide if it’s really worth it.
* Don’t snack, have real minimeals. It’s more satisfying to have half a turkey breast sandwich than a box of cookies.
* Eat in volume. Pick snacks so low in calories it doesn’t matter if you eat a lot, like air-popped popcorn, low-calorie cereal.
If you picked two or more B’s, your “diet trap” is: Delayed Feeding
How often do you skip breakfast because you’re on the run, your kitchen is bare, or you’re not that hungry? Before you know it, it’s 2 p.m. and you’ve had nothing but coffee. You’re primed to eat the first thing that crosses your path. Typically, in that situation you don’t sit down and think of what would be healthy, you just eat whatever’s there.
Zap this Trap:
* Make time to eat. Don’t skip meals or wait too long between meals; keep healthy snacks like a small handful of nuts, some cut-up veggies, or low-cal cereals in your pocketbook or briefcase just in case.
* Set it up. Find healthy fast-food breakfasts by looking online at the menus and choosing the better options, like an Egg McMuffin, at 300 calories. Create a standing order at the local deli for breakfast to be delivered to your office.
* Make your food choices in advance. The evening before, decide what you’re going to order for breakfast, or stock up on healthy convenience breakfast foods, like Egg Beaters. Bring your own healthy lunch or scout out healthy choices at the eateries in your. Know the best choices at the vending machine, cafeteria or your neighborhood restaurants. Stock up on healthy frozen meals — like Healthy Choice, Kashi and Lean Cuisine — and soups with less than 120 calories per cup.
If you picked two or more C’s, your “diet trap” is: Social Eating
You’re having so much fun that you’re not worrying about calories. Hey, you only live once.
Zap this Trap:
* Keep track of what you’re eating when socializing.
* Eat with a plan. Know what you’re going to eat before you get in the thick of it.
* Learn to spot the low-cal options. Make it a game.
* Eat before parties. Don’t go starving.
* Don’t feel obligated to eat a bunch of snacks just because someone offered them. Learn to say “no” with style.
If you picked two or more D’s, your “diet trap is: Stress Eating
Whenever you’re stressed, irritable or depressed, you know food will cheer you up. However, most experts recommend maintaining control over your internal environment despite the fact that external factors may be unstable.
Zap this Trap:
* Avoid sugar crashes. Junk food could leave you feeling tired and unsatisfied. For a better carb boost, have anything with 100 percent whole grain.
* Keep stress under control. Use nonfood related methods. Take a walk, a bath, call a friend, go to a movie and bring along healthy foods, blog (www.blogger.com), read a good book or listen to music.
Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public-health advocate, author of The Diet Detective’s Count Down (Simon & Schuster, 2007) and founder of DietDetective.com, the health and fitness network. Copyright 2007 by Charles Stuart Platkin. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www.DietDetective.com.