Keeping a Safe Food Environment is one of the most important things you can do, not only to lose weight, but also to maintain your weight. There are a few key things to keep in mind to create a safe food environment.
You need to think about your food environment in your home, your office, and even your car. We live in country where there is high calorie food everywhere we go. We should be able to let our guard down in our own food environments and we can if we plan in advance to make them safe, meaning we have already stocked them with lower calorie, healthier options.
Keeping a safe food environment means calculating the Maximum Potential Damage of the foods that we purchase. Costco- and Sams Club-type of stores are great to buy things like toilet paper, but we should not be buying giant bags of chips and cookies in those sizes. The bigger the bag we eat out of, the more calories we will take in. That’s the bottom line.
Calculating Maximum Potential Damage is easy to do, just multiply the calories per serving by the number of servings in the entire bag. Sure, you never sit down with the intention of eating the whole bag at once, but it happens sometimes. It could be in the course of an evening, or even a few days. If you know there are 3,000 calories in that big bag of pretzels, hopefully you won’t buy them in that size, and will buy a safer portion size instead.
Ideally our snacks would be primarily fruits and vegetables, 0% Greek yogurt, 1% cottage cheese, low-fat cheese sticks, and veggies dipped in 100 calorie cups of hummus. But we all know that sometimes we just need something chocolate, something sweet, or something salty that doesn’t exactly fall into the “healthy” snack category. This is where the 100 calorie, individual-portion sized packages can be really helpful. You are giving yourself a chance to have access to the right amount of calories without having to count things out and be tempted by the rest of the bag.
For example, most people do not scoop out the right amount of ice cream. Even if its fat-free, sugar-free, slow churned, etc., most people taste it while they are scooping, and have another taste on the way back to the freezer. And then you always get to that point where there is not really enough to put back in the freezer, so heck, you might as well eat it! Individually portioned pops, like Skinny Cow Truffle Pops, take away this temptation. You take one and you move on. There are no decisions to be made in terms of portions.
I think it’s okay to keep a supply of 100-calorie size snacks around (and they do have those in bulk at Costco type of stores) but the key is not to buy too many or in too many varieties, because you don’t want them calling your name when you are not hungry.
Sometimes people ask, “What’s to keep me from having two or three?” My response is that with individually portioned treats, you will at least know you are at 200 calories, at 300 calories and so on. And when you go to open that third bag, hopefully you will feel bad and stop! Whereas, when we eat from a larger size bag, it’s impossible to track what we have taken in.
Elizabeth DeRobertis, MS, RD, CDN, CDE