Chinese food – General Tso’s Tofu in particular – is one of my favorite indulgences. During the weekdays I follow a plant-based, dairy-free, meat-free, low processed food life plan. On the weekends I sometimes add an indulgence as long as it stays within my core program, such as Sunday morning waffles made with oat flakes and plant-based milk; or perhaps a vegan pizza made topped with dairy-free cheese. Once a month I order Chinese food. While it doesn’t have meat or dairy, the fried tofu and the heavily-laden sodium content places it in the once-a-month indulgence category. But that’s okay, I can handle that. What I realized I had to change was my compulsive habit of eating meals of my three or four item Chinese food order everyday until it was gone.
EXTENDED CHEAT DAYS? NOT GOOD
In his book, “Self-Disciplined Dieter,” Martin Meadows gives a thumbs up to having a cheat day or a cheat meal. In fact, he believes it aids the dieter in reaching their goals. But what he believes hurts our weight loss goals is allowing the cheat meal or day to continue to the next day or the next meal, and the next. This was exactly what I’d do when I ordered Chinese food. After that first meal I’d refrigerate the leftovers. But every time I’d open the refrigerator I was tempted to eat it again and again because it was soooooo good or “I don’t want it to go bad.”
One reason I rationalized that it was okay for me to keep indulging was because the rest of my diet is totally healthy – no deep-fried foods or high-sodium content foods. The second reason is because I’ve never believed in cheat days. I regarded cheat days as a negative and guilt-laden action that my mind did not need. I don’t normally eat potato chips, but if I decided that I wanted some, I’d go get some – with no intention of calling it cheating and, (I finally realized) no sense of discipline with my eating plan.
CREATING A NEW HABIT
So, I needed to get into the habit of doing something different to stay disciplined with my eating plan.
I still hesitate to categorize my Chinese food indulgence as a cheat meal/or cheat day, but regardless of what it’s labelled, I realized I need to discipline myself with some control and I had a couple of options:
- Order less food: Makes sense right? But I like a few of the vegetarian options, so when I decide to order, I want to be able to taste my faves.
- Only order when I’m socializing: That would work if Chinese food wins the coin toss.
- Freeze the leftovers: Yes!
Freezing makes sense for me. The leftovers are out of my fridge; no more easy access; and I’m not sabotaging my eating plan by indulging the next day and the day after that until the Chinese food is gone. And of course, my wallet is happy because next month when I want Chinese food again, all I need do is thaw it out rather than place another order.