Is It OK To Eat My Kryptonite Food?

by Kati Mora, MS, RDN
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Is It OK To Eat My Kryptonite Food?

Though it works for Superman, completely avoiding kryptonite foods may not be the best approach for you.

Everyone struggles with something. Even Superman has a weakness: kryptonite. Like Superman, many of us find certain foods are our greatest weakness, causing us to lose control or possibly even lose hope along our weight-loss journey.

However, complete avoidance isn’t in your best interest, as it is for Superman. It may seem like the smart play, but avoidance often causes us to want the food we “can’t” have all the more, eventually causing us to give in, eat more than we should and feel guilty for “losing control.” Identifying your kryptonite foods can be a great first step in figuring out what to do with them. Of course, you have to know what foods qualify.

What is a kryptonite food?

A kryptonite food is any food that you feel helpless to resist. Once you see it, smell it or bite into it, you are hooked. You can’t get enough of the savory or sweet treat that leaves you constantly wanting more. These foods tend to be more on the indulgent side and are often those foods we find ourselves classifying as “bad” or feel guilty about eating. Research indicates that certain foods, typically those high in sugar or fat, activate reward centers in the brain. This may, in part, explain why kryptonite foods are so hard to resist, but in some instances, even mere sight or smell can influence desire.

Should we avoid them?

In some instances it’s beneficial to stay clear of certain kryptonite foods if you don’t have a good relationship with those foods. However, your long-term strategy should incorporate action steps that allow you to work these foods into your regular routine. Not only will this help ensure you can approach all foods with confidence but will also help you, not the food, remain in control of your eating plan.

Although kryptonite foods may seem scary to incorporate, learning to live with them can help you better understand what it is about them you enjoy. Along the way, you may also discover you can enjoy these foods in ways that don’t derail your eating plans. You may even discover some of these foods aren’t really that important to you anymore. They just seemed special because you didn’t allow yourself to enjoy them before.

7 Tips to Incorporate Kryptonite Foods Into Your Routine

1. Set the stage for eating. When we eat sporadically or impulsively, we can set the stage for chaotic eating. Kryptonite foods may seem appealing no matter your level of hunger or fullness. However, eating balanced meals and snacks can often help us better approach them.

Meals and snacks also set the stage for balanced eating, allowing us to incorporate kryptonite foods into our routine instead of hijacking our plans. If you are ready to incorporate kryptonite foods into your day, consider adding them into regularly scheduled meals and snacks. This can help keep kryptonite foods in their place and reduce their forbidden appeal.

2. Don’t go out of your way for kryptonite foods. Conversely, you may be someone who is super sensitive to being triggered by your kryptonite foods. In this case, you can choose to skip them altogether. Kryptonite foods may show up unexpectedly at a party, work event or family function. In those instances, it is acceptable to give yourself permission to enjoy a small portion of those foods. However, don’t go out of your way to incorporate these foods into your day. These foods tend to find you, and you don’t need to spend your hard-earned money on foods that offer little to no nutritional value. Instead, look for reasons to incorporate foods that will nourish your body and focus your resource there.

3. Focus on what you can have, not what you can’t. Changing the way you eat is never easy, but your mindset can make an impact. A meta-analysis of 23 studies showed that when it came to helping people achieve their healthy eating goals, focusing on the foods you can add versus foods you have to give up could lead to better outcomes.

Unfortunately, when it comes to achieving a healthy weight, we often get stuck on the foods we can’t have. Instead, focus on the new foods you get to add to your meal plan. Perhaps there is a new-to-you fruit at your local farmer’s market or a healthy snack combination you look forward to trying. By focusing on the positives, you may find that the kryptonite foods in your life automatically become less appealing.

4. Eat slowly and savor. You may not need to eat as much as you think to feel satisfied from a more indulgent treat. In fact, you may find that even as little as three small bites of your favorite kryptonite food will do the trick. When these foods cross your path, choose to take a smaller portion and savor each and every bite. This will allow you to fully enjoy your favorite decadent treat without overdoing it.

5. Interrupt yourself. If you find yourself caught in a kryptonite food spiral, be brave and interrupt the behavior. According to research published in the 2011 journal of Appetite, our daily eating behaviors are impacted by habit. Although additional research is needed, it is possible that applying a jolt to habitual actions can make the difference! For example, if you’re in the middle of munching through a bag of chips, calmly pause and switch to a non food related activity or to a less-enticing, possibly more nutritious food. Interrupting the cycle can allow you to change your habit over time.

6. Keep guilt out of the picture. Treating yourself kindly is important, and no food should ever make you feel bad about yourself. Keep in mind that no food (no matter how bad you think it might be) can completely trash your diet. Guilt on the other hand can set you up for failure before you even truly begin. Let go of the guilt, and leave your food and food decisions at the table. A fresh start is only one meal or one snack away.

7. Know your limits. If you find that it is too difficult to incorporate these foods in a balanced way, it may be time to seek some help. A registered dietitian, therapist and your primary-care provider can work together to help you achieve not only a healthy weight but a healthy relationship with food.

Do you have a kryptonite food? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Related

  • Ken L.

    I love pizza, especially with a lot of toppings. I used to easily eat 3 – 4 slices plus bread sticks or bites. I would dip them in blue cheese dressing. Now I limit it it to 1 slice, and 1 bread stick or a few bites, and forego the dressing. Eating a salad with fat free italian dressing before hand helps me too.

    • Joey G

      Pizza is everyone’s kryptonite, I think. My weakness is anything with a white sauce. Or cream cheese. Best pizza for me hands down is the “Bullseye” from a local place here. Barbecue Chicken, jalapeños, and cream cheese with a barbecue sauce. It will be a while before I’m able to face that pizza with any control, let me tell you.

  • Joey G

    Taco bell is that for me. I decided to go there on an impulse today and then realized the amount of calories that I had consumed after logging each item. I then resolved to be a bit more active than I had planned for the evening (was going to skip the gym to rest, but instead did a half version of what’s becoming my “typical” workout) and then volunteered at an event that I ended up having to park about 5 blocks away from, so I ended up getting another 35 minutes or so of good walking in through my walk to and from the event and my walking and standing for a few hours as well.
    In fact I ended up getting so ahead with all that that I am still under even after a beer and another indulgent food this evening. I wouldn’t call today a victory by any means, but I am slowly learning to remove guilt from my eating, and focus of CAN instead of CAN’T.
    This blog really helps, even as early into my health journey as I am, because I haven’t yet had the opportunity to think about foods in this way yet, and I realized what I did today with Taco bell is just that. I got so caught up in it that I didn’t actually realize how much anything was. I used to eat there almost every day, and now looking at the actual nutritional values of some of their menu, I can now confidently go there and look my kryptonite items in the eye and choose less, or choose something alternative that is still a “treat” but maybe a bit less bad for me.

  • Elaine

    Peanut butter m&m’s. I’m not even a big sweet person, but I have been known to polish off the HUGE bag in a week. It’s crazy.

  • April Merritt (AprilM)

    Twizzlers and chicken Fingers.

    I have allowed the twizzlers in a controlled environment when I have a limited amt but I haven’t indulged in fried chicken fingers in years. I haven’t been able to get over the “can’t” feeling.

  • Elly K

    Ahh doughnuts!! As if they’re not enticing enough, most places have better prices if you buy by the DOZEN! Once, i stayed up all night just so I could get first-pick at the local doughnut shop in town. Of course, they were so fresh & tempting at 4am, that i bought a whole dozen. I intended to share them for breakfast, but I still ended up polishing off 3 before even going to bed! I started calling them “Do-nots” as a way to mentally remind myself how destructive these sweet rings are to me. I have gotten better about avoiding the local bakery, but it’s still a struggle when someone brings them to work. Baby-steps, i suppose…

  • Jennifer

    pizza. especially plain old pepperoni. i go to the italian restaurant and order the small size. bring it home and individually wrap each piece. they always cut the pizza in fourths. they stick them all in a freezer bag. then when the craving hits. thaw one slice and reheat. add a salad. and it’s lunch on. When I pick it up. I put it in the back seat so I’m not tempted to dig in on the way home. And I never order a pizza and attempt to just a slice at a restaurant. it triggers no control.

  • Jess

    I so needed this today. I have a couple of kryptonite foods, which some others have mentioned… doughnuts and pizza… neither one more than the other, I could eat them like a goldfish (forever until I die) and then once Ive had one of those things, it makes me crave other non-healthy foods like mcdonalds and arbys …with French fries and a large soda… since I’m just starting out I’m avoiding all my kryptonites and it may be a long while before I begin to incorporate them once in a great while.

  • Sandra Rankin

    Pizza, chicken enchiladas, coke. I was just diagnosed with diabetes and went cold turkey off sweets and sugary sodas. My daughter said, i could safely maybe give myself a treat, but Im afraid once I taste that sugar, or A Coke, Ill be back to bad habits!

  • Big D

    Pizza , pizza , pizza , pizza or any thing with lots of cheese .
    Have had to go on detox from it but planned to treat my self on Friday coming

  • Jocy

    Crisps, anything salty.
    If I buy a big bag, I will eat it all in one evening.
    I don’t have them in my home, when I eat them it’s from a small bag, and try to eat well throughout the day to keep myself full.

  • Aphasialady

    Pizza. The good thing is that I can make it at home, which satisfies the craving. I can make it with a healthier crust (whole wheat or 5-grain), my own homemade sauce (more veggies and less fat) and cheese. I can make it small enough so there are no leftovers.

  • Kathryn

    For me it’s really good bread (like a fresh sourdough) and sweet butter. Left to my devices I could polish off a loaf and a stick

  • Sheri

    Mine is ice cream. My favorite is a Dairy Queen blizzard (small is 800 calories)! I try not to go there. A great alternative for me are Weight Watchers salted caramel ice cream bars (80 calories). I can eat two and still not derail my goals.

  • Katey

    Ice cream. I even had a dream that I caved and bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s – I was mad at myself for caving even in my dream. Can’t have any at all because it’s a huge trigger for poor eating for me.