It may be unrealistic to think that once you've reached your goal weight, you will never again overindulge again, but there are ways to minimize the damage.
Your trusted friends—the foods that are rich in protein and good fat and helped you reach your goal weight—are also your allies when it comes to dealing with maintaining your weight loss and binges. This is because protein foods are fundamentally self-limiting. Almost everyone has eaten 30 cookies at one sitting at some time in his life, and many carbohydrate addicts have done it many times, but how many people have eaten 10 hard-boiled eggs at one sitting?
Foods that have adequate levels of protein and fats satiate your appetite quite quickly. It really isn't possible to go on munching them endlessly, and hardly anyone desires to. (Nuts and seeds may be the exception, but they are still better than cookies.) That doesn't mean a chicken breast doesn't make a delicious snack, and that, combined with a few other things, it couldn't constitute a delicious minor binge. The crucial fact about protein foods is that they don't unleash a metabolic tidal wave in your body. Very few people get addicted to protein. Your blood-glucose level doesn't rise and fall sharply when you sit down to eat a cobb salad. It’s a different story when you chow down a slice of pie –which in turn, might lead to the need for another slice and then another.
Does this mean you can't ever eat another piece of Grandma's pumpkin pie? If you are following the Atkins Nutritional Approach and have learned how to eat right, then you might cautiously see if you can indulge occasionally without causing noticeable aftereffects.
Trigger foods—foods to which you are addicted and can't stop eating, are the very foods you should not add back to your dietary regimen. It might be peanuts, chocolate, potato chips or something else. If you find you are always planning when you can have your next portion of that food, cut it out altogether, or be sure to have it just once a week, perhaps as a Friday-night treat. Only you know whether the first or the second strategy will work better for you. Remember, it's about what works.
If you are not a carb addict, then you have room to maneuver. The occasional slice of pizza or ice cream cone just might be permissible. Such compromises are not recommended, but do recognize that human nature demands them now and then. But be careful: Remember that five pounds above your goal weight is as far as you want to go, then take yourself firmly in hand and get back on plan. A firm resolution to deal with weight regain immediately will serve you well. An even better idea is to hold out for sugarless, full-fat ice cream. Controlled carb foods can help out when urges become irresistible. Try Atkins bars or shakes to get you through those cravings.
After you've been off certain trigger foods for a while like ice cream or pizza, you might find that they go down nicely. But once you've eaten them you may notice a temporary return of some familiar and unpleasant old symptoms. The distress you may experience when you eat an old favorite may cure you of these urges once and for all. (For more see Protect Your Weight Loss).
The key to remaining disciplined while traveling is a combination of mental and physical preparation.
Whether you are traveling by plane, train or car, travel is inherently unsettling. Suddenly you're without your familiar routines and resources. Not only are you confronted with temptations you would never allow in your house, you're exposed to them precisely when you're most vulnerable. (Just think about those ubiquitous cinnamon buns that perfume every airport.) As if such factors weren't hazardous enough, traveling in and of itself can bring on stress, which in turn may cause cravings for unhealthy foods.
The following tips should help ensure that you don't leave your progress behind when you travel:
- Think "big picture." Don't use your trip as an excuse to go off the program. Remember, if you continually make detours from your planned route, you’ll never reach your destination.
- Take food with you. When you miss a flight or a meeting runs late, be prepared. Take along some snack foods that are low in Net Carbs. If you're traveling by car, consider taking a cooler packed with cold cuts and cheese. You can even bring along salad in a plastic bag with dressing on the side. And you might stow away a few Atkins bars and shakes to use as snacks or light meals.
- Eat first. Start out on the right foot by eating a well-planned, satisfying meal before you leave home.
- Go a little nuts. If you're past the first two weeks of Induction, you can snack on nuts and seeds. Macadamias, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds are all good choices because they're high in protein and fat. You'll feel more satisfied and in control of your appetite after eating a handful.
- Don't skip meals. Tempted to pass on lunch and make better time? Don't do it. Omitting a meal could make you ravenous, out of control and more likely to grab anything edible that's handy.
- Fly right. If you're on a flight where a meal will be served, call ahead and ask what's on the menu. You may be able to find a seafood salad or other dish that is acceptable.
- Drink up. When you're traveling, consume lots of water. Staying hydrated will help you feel satisfyingly full. Stay away, however, from caffeine, which can increase carbohydrate cravings.
- Pack your supplements. If you've gotten into the habit of taking nutritional supplements, congratulations! Now make sure you continue this part of your lifestyle when you're on the road. Once one element of your routine gets upset, other good habits tend to slide as well. Even if you make some mistakes with your food choices, staying on the vitanutrient program will help you focus on getting back to eating properly.
- Speed counts. If you do slip off the Atkins Nutritional Approach for a day or more, get back on ASAP. The longer you're off, the harder it may be to resume.
- Be ready to compromise without quitting. If you find that your food options on the road or in the air are all really poor, adhere to the program as closely as you can. For example, if you find that you need to increase your consumption of salad and other vegetables beyond your usual allowance, it doesn't mean you might as well eat bread and pasta. It's better to deviate a little than to throw the whole program out the window.