Temptation is probably the single most detrimental desire to one’s goals. Now of course there are positive temptations, but I do not think anyone is concerned about those. The negative temptations are the desires that make us veer from our “plan.” The strongest temptation for most of us is food. We are physiologically and psychologically driven to eat. However, regulation of our food intake comes with restricting what we often desire. Most of the time those foods are generally salty, high in sugar, and high in fat. Following a healthy balanced diet does not normally contain those foods in any satisfying degree besides salt. People might start out with good intentions and focus on following a diet plan to lose body fat, but their mind often wanders and hyper focuses on food that is not on their diet. Eating those foods would ultimately sabotage their progress. This thinking is relatively common but there is a way around it. Here are my tips to avoid temptation.
Unhealthy to Healthy Mindset
As noted earlier, there is a physiological and psychological drive to eat. We cannot stop the physiological need when dieting hard, but we can change our outlook so that psychologically it will become easier to avoid temptation. Personally, I have learned to view food differently over the years. When I first started competing in 2005, I had trouble learning balance after a show prep. I would eat on plan 100% and then would fall off hard. I had an all-or-nothing mentality. This caused me to form a poor relationship with food where I was always viewing certain foods as forbidden, which made staying on plan much harder. My mind was always racing when I was around foods that were not on my plan. Eating sensibly became very difficult when I attended parties, events, and holidays gatherings.
After a few years of this, I realized how detrimental and unhealthy this mindset was. I did not want to be controlled by food that way anymore. I wanted to reach my goal and learn to eat a balanced diet consistently without fighting my mind all the time. So I changed my outlook and started to view food as a tool to achieve my goal. Eating a certain way was for a purpose and not a restriction.
It was my choice and not forced upon me. I told myself I could have anything I want at any time. I just had to accept that it would set me back. It does not make any sense to willingly make a choice to eat off plan, go overboard, and then feel bad about it because I am further from my goal. I made a choice and now had to own it.
During this time if I wanted something I would have it. Yet when I did have it, I would end up being very reasonable and would not overdo it, not because I was forcing myself to a small portion but because my change in mindset dissipated that extreme mentality to overeat. Over time, I ate so rarely off plan that I would sometimes go two to five weeks without eating anything off my diet plan. I did not even notice it.
Discipline and Consistency
Although I stopped my mind from sabotaging me with frequent temptations, there is more to this than just viewing food differently. We also need discipline to prevail. Discipline is doing the things you need to do to succeed even when you do not feel like it. That is extremely important. If we acted only when we felt motivated to do something, we would never get anywhere. If you are truly serious about your goals, then you must exercise discipline.
That does not mean striving for perfection. That means striving for consistency. Striving for perfection creates guilt because nobody is perfect all the time. Everyone is capable of learning discipline. For example, look at your life now compared to when you were very young. You are more disciplined now than you were then. Becoming more disciplined takes consistency and practice doing the things you need to do when you do not feel like it. Learn to take immediate action instead of procrastinating.
Make It Your Own
There is still one more step in this process and that is your diet. Your diet does not have to be boring and repetitive. People often adopt a diet for ease and convenience, so they eat the same foods repetitively. They also do not put much thought or effort into the preparation of foods consumed on their plan. You must make the diet your own. Learn to prepare the food to your liking. Become your own chef and get good at cooking healthy. Get creative and work on forming a diet plan that you find sustainable. You will struggle much more if you dislike your diet. Temptations will be much harder to fight off.
Diet Plan and Moderation
Remember, temptations are created in our own mind. The more we obsess about them the more we have trouble withstanding them. It is all about changing your outlook and viewing food differently. It is not fun to be controlled by food and to be constantly fighting your mind not to cave in to those sugar and high fat food cravings. This does not mean you cannot have things in moderation. Since moderation can be defined very differently from individual to individual, I recommend 90% adherence to a diet plan.
This does not, of course, include preparation for a bodybuilding show. For that you will have to be 100%, but you can still adopt the change in outlook to help take the focus off the foods you cannot eat anyway. I personally never struggle in prep because I know those high sugar and high fat foods are not on my plan and will prevent me from looking my best. It is not an option, so why even focus on it. In prep, the focus should be all on the result, no matter what. Preparation is only as brutal as you make it out to be.
So change that outlook, practice discipline, and make the diet your own. Learn how to prepare foods to your liking. With these tools, adherence to your plan will increase and the constant mental effort to stay on plan will decrease. Food has a purpose. Do not view it as a restriction. Keep your goal in mind. If you do go overboard eating off plan, just accept it, move on, and get right back to work. No negative emotions.