FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – has reached epidemic proportions in our modern digital age, and it seems no part of our lives is exempt – not even when it comes to making healthy food choices! I posted on my Facebook page a little while ago (while I was still in Europe) that I was struggling with avoiding over-indulging at hotel breakfasts. Breakfast has always been my favourite meal, so when I’m confronted with a range of breakfast options – particularly if they’re novel or a little bit ‘naughty’, the glutton in me just wants to sample everything and everything I know about the benefits of eating healthy can fly out the window. Arrgh!! The temptation can be realllly hard to avoid. Especially if my usual go-to healthy food options aren’t available, it’s too easy to just think ‘oh f*ck it’ and dig in.
FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is the best way I can think to describe this. Psychologically, I think that if I don’t take advantage of this ‘free’ food, I’m missing out, or depriving myself, which is silly really because:
- This is NOT the last time in my life I’ll have the opportunity to eat a croissant if I really want to. The world’s supply is not going to suddenly dry up.
- I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am what I eat. Healthy eating is critical to my healthy living values. Eating food that doesn’t suit me will always always always make me feel rubbish and if I don’t start the day well, it’s more likely to unravel.
- I’m living proof that the satisfaction of living in a healthy fit body is worth every single minor ‘deprivation’ I’ve willed myself to endure along the way.
It’s a constant battle though. Sometimes this mental dialogue is sufficient for me to sail past the pastry table with an iron will.
Other times, the script runs a little more like this:
(Talking to myself) “I don’t care how amazing that breakfast looks today. It’s going to be a great day! I’m going to ask for an egg white omelette with ham and spinach and coffee with no sugar and I’ll feel both completely satisfied and the whole day is going to rock. You got this, Gen!”
Walks into the buffet…
(Folds like a pack of cards)
So, knowing that FOMO can be an issue for me, here are some of the strategies and mind games I use for making healthy food choices to try and avoid a breakfast binge, and that I think could work for almost any food FOMO situation.
Strategies for avoiding Fear of Missing Out and making healthy food choices
1. Never drink juice. Just don’t. There are better ways to get your fibre. Most fruit juice these days is just sugar water and empty calories. Same goes for any soft drink or soda. ‘Eating right’ means making the nutritional value of what you eat and drink top priority.
2. Remember it’s breakfast, not dessert. It’s not unusual in Europe to see cakes and sweet biscuits available at breakfast time. No. I don’t think that belongs in a healthy breakfast and it doesn’t belong in YOUR body, or mine. If you must, find some other way to indulge – cheese maybe, or sugar in your coffee.
3. Think about the glycaemic load of what you’re eating. How’s this going to impact your blood sugar in a few hours’ time? There’s more advice about how to hack your blood sugar here.
4. Just have a tiiiiny amount of something naughty, like a corner of a slice of bread with the butter on nice and thick, or one bite of a chocolate pastry and pass on the rest.
5. Don’t linger over any buffet meal. Get The Hell Out. If you stay, you might graze.
6. Try the ‘not today’ approach. Just avoid temptation today and deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. With any luck (and some good management) when tomorrow comes you can ‘not today it’ again, and you’re winning the war. Plus over time as you experience the benefits of eating healthy food, this mental reframing becomes easier to do.
7. If you’re traveling, don’t book accommodation with breakfast included. Ordering off the menu always gives you more control than a buffet scenario. Or inquire in advance as to whether the breakfast is a buffet or a la carte.
8. Set yourself just one rule, and stick to it. No bread, is usually mine. So I will load up on the bacon and the eggs and although it may not be the healthiest choice, or fit within my calorie/macro goals, I’m not doing as much damage as if I added bread to the mix, and all that protein and fat will keep me fuller for longer. Try it!
9. If you’re with friends or family or a partner, enlist their help. Making it known that you’re serious about your new commitment to healthy eating and healthy living. Suggest that either they also don’t eat the food that you’re trying to avoid in front of you, or you sit at different tables (I know that sounds pretty antisocial) OR even choose a table that’s far away from the food and you sit with your back to it.
10. If you’ve tried the above strategies and it’s still too hard, forfeit the free breakfast. Go elsewhere and order off a menu. Remember we eat with our eyes and if you can’t see it (or smell it!) you’re less likely to want it.
If you’ve been at this a while, you’ll know that the benefits of eating healthy FAR outweigh these ‘sacrifices’ and that it does get easier over time. You got this, GI!