The Runner’s Pantry—How to Avoid Temptation

One weekend morning, I came down to the kitchen to find my four-year-old frantically going through our pantry. “What are you doing?” I asked. He replied, “Daddy.” I came closer and realized he was quite upset, so I asked, “What about Daddy?” He turned away from the pantry and looked up at me with his sad little face and watery eyes. He whimpered, “Daddy ate my potato chips!”

I set aside my concern that potato chip breakfasts are definitely not one of our family rituals and did everything I could to suppress a smile. “Luke,” I said, “We will talk to Daddy and remind him not to eat your chips.” “OK,” he replied, “But why don’t you get Daddy his own bag?” I decided it wasn’t worth explaining that Daddy actually had his own bag of chips, but after those were gone, he had gone scavenging for more. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell my son that his father was a potato chip addict.

I have a saying for certain foods: “If it is around, it will be eaten.” My husband never craves chocolate, cookies, cake or other desserts. But if you step between him and a bowl of potato chips, you do so at your own peril. For him, chips are a trigger food. If they are around, they will be eaten—even if it requires stealing from a little boy.

Virtually everyone I know has similar trigger foods. Personally, I could care less about chips, but put some chocolate or Oreos in the pantry, and I can guarantee they will soon disappear. Over the years, I’ve found only one 100-percent foolproof method for avoiding random binges.

The solution? You must purge your pantry. The best way to avoid temptation is to remove temptation. I urge you to give your pantry and refrigerator a top-to-bottom review, discarding any unhealthy trigger foods.

Whenever I go through this exercise, I feel better mentally. Just knowing I have removed some unhealthy food has a positive impact. I consider the practice to be the healthy eating equivalent of “spring cleaning.”

Not only will this spring cleaning help you from acting upon the urge to indulge in unhealthy foods, but it will make space in your refrigerator and pantry for all the wonderful, more wholesome and nutritious foods.

Take 30 minutes to sort through the food in your house. If you find an item that will derail you from building healthy eating habits, get rid of or donate it now. (You can always add it back to your pantry later, if you choose.) I’m confident that a little pantry modification will leave you feeling good and running strong—and, more importantly, these adjustments will help you succeed with your healthy eating goals.

Dawna is a mom of two, author of ten books and founder of Women's Running magazine and the Virtual Women's Half Marathon series. She is also a certified health coach and motivational speaker. Dawna has appeared on the Today show, MSNBC and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna has launched and sold two wellness companies and loves combining her passion for health and wellness with her love of running. Learn more about Dawna Stone.

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