During an early morning airport connection, I found myself wandering around my gate looking for a clean breakfast option. I stumbled upon an organic breakfast spot, but to my surprise, I found myself continuing my hunt for a “low-calorie” “low-carb” option. My weight loss attempts had stalled, so I decided to do something very unusual- something in complete contradiction to my healthy lifestyle philosophy. I decided against clean, minimally processed foods and had an eye-opening experience.
At the organic breakfast spot, I took my time looking over the menu. Despite interest in a few of the organic menu items priced around $12 (ie: organic beef burger with a fried egg on a sprouted grain bun… or…. Sprouted grain avocado toast with a fried egg on top) and the lure of an organic roasted black coffee, I had a few TRIGGER THOUGHTS pop into my head.
TRIGGER THOUGHTS are powerful thoughts that work hard to sabotage your success. [We go deep into TRIGGER THOUGHTS in the 12 week weight management workbook].
As I was considering my clean breakfast options, a few of my TRIGGER THOUGHTS were:
- It’s too expensive
- I’m going to seem high-maintenance when I modify some of their meal options
- There’s probably a ton of unhealthy oil / grease in their dishes
- I’ll have to sit down to eat it
After I hm’d and ha’d in line and started letting people pass in front of me, I decided to skip the entrée and instead grab a quick drink until I could find another spot for food. I ended up buying a grapefruit flavored “Hi-Ball” energy drink stashed in their refrigerated open cooler by the cashier. The can read “sparkling water, unsweetened,” and “caffeine”- three of my favorite adjectives when it comes to beverages.
It also read; “natural flavors,” which is actually a deceptive marketing claim for artificial ingredients[La Croix is guilty of this too, so beware!].
Knowing this was an artificially flavored drink, I bought it anyway for ~ $6…! (Oy. Airport pricing…)
As I sipped and walked to my next destination, I paid close attention to how the beverage made me feel. Mentally, I filled out one of the charts from the 12 Week Weight Management Programworkbook:
Grapefruit Hi-Ball Energy Tolerability OK Sensitivity Mild Side Effect Bloating and slight abdominal discomfort
Notes Artificially sweet after-taste on my tongue. Poor thirst quencher. Ended up throwing the can away after only drinking 30% of it.
I dumped the drink into the recyclables and continued walking toward my gate looking for a food option. Shortly thereafter, I eventually stumbled upon a generic “convenient store” shop. I came across a protein bar stand and noticed RXBars, Cliff, and Quest bars displayed nicely in an array of flavors. I was tempted to grab an RXBar knowing that these bars were filled with simplistic ingredients and were the cleanest option. However, my TRIGGER THOUGHTS returned as I contemplated picking up the RXBar:
- The dates have too many grams of carbs
- The sugar content is too high (from said dates)
- The cookie dough Quest flavor sounds more appealing because…well, chocolate chips and cookie dough…!
- There’s 21g of protein in the Quest bar (vs 11g in the other bars)
I let the TRIGGER THOUGHTS take the lead and ended up buying the chocolate chip cookie dough Quest Bar for an additional $6 (outrageous).
I waited until I was seated on the plane to savor every bite of that expensive Quest bar, and then took mental note of how it tasted:
Cookie Dough Quest Bar Tolerability Fine Sensitivity No Side Effect None Notes The texture of the bar felt like chalk. I was left with the same artificial sweetener taste on my tongue that left my mouth salivating.
No significant improvement in hunger.
Evaluating Your Hunger
Honestly, I finished the bar and was shocked to feel NO substantial improvement in my hunger level after a full 20 minutes of patiently waiting for the satiating effects to kick in. I started feeling uneasy, now that I was trapped in my plane seat without access to food anytime soon.
I couldn’t help but regret letting my TRIGGER THOUGHTS take over my food and beverage selection. Had I just stuck with the whole, clean foods from the original store, I would have had:
- Paid the same amount of money
- Consumed > 20 grams of protein
- Enjoyed the nourishment of quality micro & macronutrients
- Felt satisfied
- Eaten less calories overall
Despite my immediate feelings of food guilt and shame, I re-wired my thoughts to consider this moment as an experiment with useful feedback.
Avoiding Food Guilt
In the future when tempted by a highly processed protein bar with convincing marketing labels- or an energy drink that pretends to be void of artificial ingredients- I’ll know EXACTLY how these items make me feel.
I’ve learned that it’s personally not worth the expense, side effects, nor overall dissatisfaction in taste and satiety to prioritize these items over clean and minimally processed foods.
If you struggle with TRIGGER THOUGHTS, cleaning out your diet, or emotional eating, I highly recommend the 12 Week Weight Management Program.You’ll gain access to an accountability workbook that breaks down the program into bite size accountability assignments. Each assignment parallels the content curriculum.
Stay healthy, Habiteers! Join the crew on Facebook and continue the conversation online!