I know...this may seem a little strange for a health site. It may seem much too light-hearted and frivolous - different from the usual content of this website, but humor me for a few minutes and hear me out.
Chips...they defy healthfulness. They laugh in the face of unadulterated whole foods. They go against everything I believe about health. Bottom line is, they are purely fat, salt and empty calories. Did you know that in one serving of chips (now, by the way, that's only 13 chips...how many people eat 13 chips?) there are approximately 10 grams of fat and 160 calories. Do you know how hard you have to work to just burn off the calories for those 13 chips? You'd need to walk for 42 minutes, jog for 18 minutes, swim for 13 minutes or cycle for 22 minutes. That's an eye-opener! That many added calories on a regular basis will certainly lead to not only weight gain but also many other health concerns associated with extra fat and calories.
But for this girl who is crazy about health, chips are a stumbling block. I am totally embarrassed to admit that I love chips. There is something about the salty crunch that entices me every time I see them - and there are not many unhealthy foods that tempt me even a little. Now I don't love all chips - in fact I have no problem staying away from many brands and varieties but if you place plain tortilla chips or wavy salted potato chips in front of me, my very strong convictions about health tend to melt away. Like I said, this is hard for me to confess - someone so purposefully health conscious just shouldn't love chips. Plain and simple. But the fact of the matter is, I do.
I have gone through phases in which I have abstained for weeks and weeks at a time. There have been times I go to the grocery store and resist the urge to buy a bag of chips to have on hand. But I haven't been consistent and if I'm not careful, this love for chips is going to get me in trouble! So here I am writing a pretty silly post about them. And you're probably wondering "What's the point?" My point is, everyone struggles with something. Everyone has a weak spot or a guilty pleasure. Everyone. So, my hope in writing this short missive is to encourage you in your own health journey...to empower you to make needed changes toward better health...whatever your stumbling block or hold-up may be. It is not hard for me to live a healthy lifestyle. I love to eat healthy food. I love to get exercise. I love to make purposeful health decisions. But even I struggle - so listen in for a minute. Hear me when I say that some days are harder than others. But please, if you take nothing else away from this, please understand that change is totally possible. Change is totally worth it. And change is necessary for all of us. So don't give up on your health journey. As you form new habits, they become easier and easier to follow. So keep plugging away.
Here's my strategy and my battle plan. And before I begin, please understand that I realize this small change is just that: small. Many of you may be struggling with significant health challenges or the need for weight loss or other addictions. So I am not trying to say my struggle is the same as yours. But change is change and for each of us, it carries challenges with it.
The best thing to do when faced with a situation in which we crave something we shouldn't have is to keep it out of the house. Plain and simple. If it's not readily available, we won't be able to hop up and grab it. So I'm choosing not to have my favorite chips in the pantry.
The next step is to realize that oftentimes all or nothing thinking leads to personal rebellion and let me explain what I mean by that. When we tell ourselves we can never have X, Y or Z, we have the innate tendency to defy that. If I said: "Dessert is not good for me, therefore, I will never eat dessert again as long as I live", the likelihood that I am going to carry that out is next to none. It's not realistic in most instances. Our subconscious mind doesn't like to be given those kinds of orders. However, there are much more productive ways of going about this. Instead of all or nothing thinking or rules, come up with an action plan that contains clear parameters but does not encourage personal rebellion. So instead of the "I will never again...", create something like: "I will only have dessert on special occasions (ie. Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, Easter)". We automatically respond better to those sorts of decisions.
Create health goals that are challenging, attainable, and sustainable. In my counseling practice, I am constantly talking with my clients about the necessity of setting challenging yet attainable goals that encourage success rather than failure. That seems ridiculous, right? Of course I want to set myself up for success...why would I set myself up for failure? But don't we do that all the time? We set goals so high that they automatically encourage failure? "I will exercise for an hour a day for the rest of my life", "I will lose 10lbs a week until I lose the extra 100lbs I carry", "I will never eat snacks again". If we look at our current health picture in this country, those types of promises rarely result in fruitful outcomes. That's why diets don't work - the parameters and rules just aren't sustainable. They set people up for failure.
Closely connected to creating challenging, attainable and sustainable health goals is not choosing too many goals at once. Don't fall into the trap of saying: "In the next month, I am going to start drinking 10 glasses of water a day, exercising an hour a day, eating 12 servings of fruits and veggies a day, not having any dessert and cutting out all calorie-dense foods". That is a mental and physical overload that most likely won't be sustained. Start with 1-2 health goals and have a plan for gradually and consistently building on those health goals. This week, start with drinking adequate water and beginning to exercise. Maybe in 2 weeks you'll be ready to cut out dessert except for special occasions and the month after that, increase your fruit and veggie intake. Doing it all at once is rarely the best route to take.
And finally, don't get in the rut of thinking: "I'm pretty healthy. I don't need to change anything". Regardless of our health status, regardless of how many healthy changes we have made, regardless of how focused we are on health, we can all benefit from change and improvement in our health journeys. It's important that we are always willing to make adjustments and to work diligently at achieving and maintaining optimal health rather than getting comfortable and believing it's "good enough". I'm preaching to myself here!
So that's my case against chips. Or really, I guess it's my case for continuing to choose health-promoting practices, regardless of how hard it might be. I can overcome a silly little craving for the sake of my health. And more importantly, I am willing to do the work...willing to take on a new challenge of cutting out an unhealthy habit. I won't believe that what I'm doing is "good enough". Like I said at the beginning of this missive, my hope in writing this is to encourage you in your own health journey...to empower you to make needed changes toward better health...whatever your stumbling block or hold-up may be.
Here's to better health💚