How You Can Overcome Temptation and Not Miss Out

Temptation is Everywhere

We are constantly bombarded by temptation every day, all day long, and in many different ways.  Unless you lock yourself in your room and hire a personal chef, living without temptation is unavoidable.  By breaking down the different forms of temptation and understanding how it affects us, you can overcome it.

Tempting Environment

We live in an environment that further facilitates our daily struggle with temptation.  Nearly 70% of TV commercials advertise unhealthy food or alcoholic beverages.  The majority of billboards today, between 40% and 60%, advertise cigarettes and alcohol.  Marketers use beautiful actors in their advertisements to appeal to your desires, which further increases temptation.

grocery store checkout temptation
Grocery Checkout Line Temptation

Next time you go to your local grocery store, pay attention to product placement.  You will notice, grocery stores place the most tempting foods at eye-level or in very accessible locations like isle end-caps or sale displays.  Last minute, impulse buys, like candy, drinks and snacks, are always situated near the checkout line, which limits the time to rethink the purchase.

Driving to and from work, how many fast-food chains do you pass?  With one on every corner, you easily loose track.

Forms of Food Temptation

The best way to overcome the many forms of temptation, is by breaking it down into its original form and examining it.  By understanding how each form of temptation affects us fundamentally, we can finally overcome it.

Food temptation can be broken down into three main forms – physical, social, and emotional.

Physical Temptation

Physical temptation is the easiest one to identify.  It simply means that you’re hungry.

When you’re hungry, you’re liable to reach for the most accessible food only to satisfy your hunger.  90% of the time the most accessible foods are not healthy options.

You’ve heard it before:

Never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry.

Hungry grocery shoppers end up with a basket loaded with unhealthy foods.

Suppose you’re out running errands all day.  You had a big breakfast at home, but now it’s way past lunch time and you’re famished.  You see or hear an advertisement for a big, juicy burger, and you start craving a double-stack with bacon.  How many places would serve you that big burger?  A number, I’m sure.  Even if you wanted a healthier alternative, they are not readily available.  If they are then they are probably out of the way, require more time, and definitely cost more money.

Overcome Physical Temptation

The first part in overcoming physical temptation is body awareness.  Seems rather simple actually.  All we have to do is realize you’re hungry.  Silly, I know, but often times when we either forget to eat or haven’t eaten over a long period of time, we don’t realize we’re hungry until it’s too late.  By then, we’re ravenous little gremlins.

Hunger affects everyone differently; so figure out how hunger expresses itself in your body.  It could be a simple headache or it could be a total mood change, but whatever it is, the first step is realizing it so you can give yourself a head start at making the right choice.   Once you do that, it’s a simple fix.

In the beginning stages of hunger, I feel a slight headache.  Upon ignoring my headache, the hunger affects my mood – turning me into an agitated, impatient mommy, which is not good for anyone.  My husband usually notices the signs before I do and politely suggests a little bite to eat.  This usually does the trick for me.  Now that’s love.

Realizing you’re hungry may often involve the help of others.  Just like you know when your children are hungry, I guarantee your family knows when you are.  Even if you don’t realize it.

The difficult part is over.  All you have to do now, is have a quick Paleo-approved snack, which will remove the signs of hunger, help clear your mind,  help you choose healthier alternatives, and finally, overcome physical temptation.

Okay, where’s that Paleo-approved snack when you need it?

The second part to overcoming physical temptation is to always, always, always have a Paleo-approved snack, or multiple snacks, with you at all times.  Tuck them away in your car, your purse, your gym bag, your desk at work for emergency late-nights or if you forget your lunch.  Have them with you, always.  Then whenever you feel hungry, reach for these easily accessible Paleo-approved snacks.

My favorite Paleo-approved snacks listed below will hold you over until you can find a healthier option.

Social Temptation

Paleo Dining Out
Temptation During Social Events

Social temptation is the most common form of temptation and occurs every day in some way or another.

You feel social temptation when your friends invite you out for happy-hour after work.  It tempts you while attending parties surrounded by snacks, sweets, and enough food to feed an army.  Even a quick birthday celebration at work can be a source of social temptation.

Holiday Dessert Temptation

First, you’re in a social setting, surrounded by people doing the same thing.  No matter what it is, you’re tempted to do the same thing just because everyone else is doing it.  You’ve probably heard this described before as the bandwagon effect.  Even if you don’t really want a slice of cake, you take one anyway because you don’t want to be different, singled out, or catch the “evil-eye,” as Armenians like to say.

We’re all celebrating with cake, come celebrate with us by having a slice too.

It’s our human nature to want to fit in.  Rejecting that slice of cake or going out for drinks and not ordering an alcoholic beverage makes us feel awkward, which is a big reason we ignore our initial judgement and take that slice of chocolate cake or order that rum and coke.  It happens over and over again and we regret it later, yet we don’t do anything about it.

Overcome Social Temptation

When overcoming social temptation, it’s best to, first, understand that leading a Paleo lifestyle is a hard choice.  The Paleo lifestyle has gained some traction over the past few years, but it’s not, by any means, a popular lifestyle.  With that in mind, the minute you chose a Paleo lifestyle, you are automatically set apart from the rest of the population.  You are now, by the very definition, different.

This is good, though; very good – like, stand up straighter, walk a little taller, and strut-your-stuff good.

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2 out of 3 adults are considered overweight or obese.  Coronary heart disease is the number one death in the United States affecting the typical population.  Americans are packing on the pounds and getting fatter every year.  By choosing a Paleo lifestyle and removing yourself from the typical population, you will positively improve your health and future vitality.

Isn’t that worth more than a piece of cake?

While celebrating a co-worker’s birthday one afternoon at work, I was the only person who didn’t grab a slice of cake.  Instead of hiding out in my office, I joined the rest of the department so I, too, could celebrate.  Several people tried giving me a plate and seemed perplexed that I didn’t take it.  I had to answer each one with my reason for not wanting it.  Overtime, my family, my co-workers and my friends began to admire my choices, my willpower, and eventually, stopped offering me various plates of food because they knew I would say no.

birthday temptation
Birthday Party Temptation

In your continued effort to overcome social temptation, practice and become comfortable with saying, “No.”  This is very difficult for some people; practicing it over and over again will certainly help.  Work on that answer ahead of time, become comfortable with your choice, and just say, “No.”  My response usually goes something like this:

“Thank you very much for the offer, but I’m trying to avoid *fill in the blank* for personal reasons.

The awkward feeling of saying “no” will become less and less awkward, and overcoming social temptation will become…wait for it…a piece of cake.

For more on overcoming social temptation during the holidays or parties, check out my post on Conquer Holiday Cravings for more great tips that will help you enjoy the holidays while still staying true to your lifestyle.

Emotional Temptation

Emotional temptation, involving your brain, is, by far, the most difficult form of temptation to overcome.  You can certainly argue with yourself, I’ve done it several times, but who actually wins this argument?

When you combine your typical routine, your treasured memories, your sense of practicality, and your hormones together, emotional temptation becomes very powerful and difficult to overcome.  So let’s take a deeper look at each one.

Typical Routine

Prior to your new Paleo lifestyle, I’m sure you did many things that weren’t necessarily healthy, like skipping breakfast, snacking on cheese and crackers while cooking dinner, or eating way too much dessert in the evening.  Doing the same thing, the same way over time creates a routine that becomes so automatic, it becomes a habit.

A friend of mine has been eating his noodle soup the same way for a very long time.  He starts out with a big bowl of noodle soup, loaded with vegetables and meat.  Once the noodles, vegetables and meat are gone, he adds rice to the remaining broth and continues eating the broth and rice mixture until the broth is gone.  He does this, regardless of his hunger.  It has become a routine because he’s done it that way several times before.

I did it that way before so I should do it that way now.

We are creatures of habit.  Our routines, whether good or bad, establish our future decisions and mostly go unnoticed.  Our subconscious mind acts on what it knows, even before we can logically think it through.  When you give in to routine, you loose the argument and emotional temptation wins.

Treasured Memories

Ah, memories.  Hopefully, happy ones.  What are some of your most treasured memories?  A majority of mine involve family, food and friends…and probably in that order.  I guess I was always a foodie and never really knew it.  Good, happy memories are very powerful motivators and extremely strong sources of temptation.

That memory gave me so much joy, I want to feel that joy again by recreating that event.

Certain events in your life make certain memories more powerful than others.  After my Dad passed away, my memories of him were always in the forefront of my mind.  As most of you know, I write a lot about my Dad.

One of my favorite memories was when we drove his Ford Mustang convertible through the tree-lined side streets of New Hampshire to the local ice cream stand.  My Dad sped around the curves while I stared up into the sky and watched the beautiful green trees hanging over us, with glimmers of pure white clouds and perfectly blue sky shining in occasionally.  We enjoyed our ice cream, together, as a family then got back in the car and headed back home the same way.  This joyous memory will always be associated with ice cream.  I find myself wanting to take Wyatt for a drive and get ice cream with him like my Dad did for us.  I find myself wanting to recreate these memories with my family and recreate that same feeling of joy and happiness.

My mom would often make me butterscotch pudding when I wasn’t feeling well.  So today, when I’m not feeling well, I’m tempted by the memory of that butterscotch pudding.    I’m obviously not thinking clearly, and the dairy alone will make me feel much worse.  However, the emotional temptation is there.  It’s driving my thoughts and emotions.

Sense of Practicality

As humans, we think things through, we’re very logical and practical.  Okay, how does this play into emotional temptation?

Let’s look at this example.  On the way home from work, you stopped by the local grocery store and picked up a few things for tonight’s dinner.  After dinner, you realize there’s only a little bit of food remaining.  It’s certainly not enough for another meal, but your practical side doesn’t want to waste the food either.  So, you end up eating the last few bites.  I know we’ve all done it.  Your belly could be full to the top, yet you still finish off the last little bit of food so it doesn’t go to waste.

No sense in wasting perfectly good food.

The practical side of your brain wants to manipulate a situation so that it becomes okay to follow through.  The more you reason with yourself, the more it makes sense.  If Tanya argues with Tanya, then Tanya usually wins.  Does that mean Tanya was right?  Oh my, this makes my head hurt a little.


Your brain is wired a certain way and your hormones make it next to impossible to win an argument with yourself.

Instead of me trying to explain to you, my cherished reader, I shared this great video, which describes it perfectly.  This video focuses on sugar, since that’s usually the origin of most of our food temptations.

Overcome Emotional Temptation

I caution you; it takes good, old-fashioned hard work to overcome emotional temptation, but it can be done.

Start by creating new routines, which after 21 days becomes a habit.  Our old, past routines are strong, but we can break the habit – break the routine – and overcome emotional temptation.  After a month or two, you will be well on your way to developing new habits and new routines that benefit you and your new lifestyle.

When it comes to arguing with yourself, you certainly can’t argue with the past.  Treasured memories from the past are powerful.  Let’s use these powers for good.  Let those memories live in the present as modified new versions.  Instead of taking my son out for ice cream like my Dad did with us, I’ll honor that memory and take him out to play miniature golf or make Paleo-approved ice cream at home instead.

When my son is sick, instead of making him butterscotch pudding, I’ll give him my love, attention, and make him special, Paleo-approved Fudge Brownies.  You can still honor your treasured memories and replicate the same effect even as you make slight changes that fall in line with your new Paleo lifestyle.

It’s important to remember this is an actual life – style.  It’s not a fad diet or a 30-day challenge.  This lifestyle is a way of life that must, and should, continue on.  I’m not saying you won’t eat another hot dog, a slice of blueberry pie, or a warm homemade roll ever again for the rest of your life, nor do I encourage you to do that.  Restricting yourself to forever is not realistic.  It only takes the right recipe *cough* Experience Paleo Recipes *cough* and your brain will create new memories and associate those memories with these Paleo-approved foods.

Remember those memories and enjoy them.  Then make Paleo-approved versions of the food that brought you so much joy and will continue bringing you joy again and again.  Plus, this Paleo version is much healthier.  Not to mention, all this without the nasty after-effects of giving into temptation and paying for it later.

Paleo Hot Dog with Bun
Paleo Hot Dog with Bun

If we want to appeal to our practical side, then we have to get practical.  Is your body a refrigerator?  Most certainly not.  Is your body a trash can?  Absolutely not! Then stop treating it like one!  Throw the food away or put it back in the refrigerator.  Don’t blindly eat it just because you don’t want to waste food.  That will win that argument every time.  Guaranteed.

Finally, if you’re not going to drop-dead from exhaustion or faint due to lack of food, then it could be your hormones trying to trick you into eating more sugar, salt, or fat so it can reap the reward of dopamine.

I still struggle with this form of emotional temptation involving my hormones.  Nuts are my arch-nemesis food.  Just picture a walnut with a mask and cape crushing me with a single blow.  I can’t seem to control myself after eating nuts.  No matter what I tell myself – that I’m full or I’ve had enough – I still find myself sneaking back for some more.

Distraction works best for me when dealing with my hormones.  If I can redirect my thoughts, then the cravings slowly disappear.

Paleo lifestyles are constantly changing and evolving.  We will find a balance…eventually.

Put Everything into Perspective

By breaking down the various forms of temptation and examining it, we can finally overcome temptation.  If all else fails, remind yourself why you chose a Paleo lifestyle in the first place.  Write it down and put little reminders all over the fridge, the pantry and your kitchen cabinets.

Each time you face a tempting situation, take a step back, and look at your temptation through the eyes of a third-party observer.  Remove the physical, social and emotional temptation, and look at the situation for what it is.

I remind myself why I chose this Paleo lifestyle almost every day.  I do it for my kidneys, for my family, so I can be the best, healthiest version of myself.  This means more years to live, more time with my husband, my son, my friends, more experiences, more vacations, more holidays; the list could go on.

When I put my life into perspective and stack one side of the equation, I realize the cookies, the cake, and the cheese and crackers pales in comparison.  The temptation no longer seems worth it.

Nothing is worth more than your life.

We must overcome this temptation – live by our own desires, our own will, and on our own terms.  I’ll stare temptation in the face, knock it down, and keep walking.  I hope you will too.

Before I get into some of the best Paleo menu items, I would love to hear from you.  How do you experience temptation throughout your day?  Are you tempted more by physical, social or emotional temptation?  Do you overcome it; how?  Please add some comments below; I would love to hear what you have to say.

Tempting Paleo-Approved Recipes

Here are some great Paleo meals and sides to serve at your next party, get together, or when your tempted by the less-healthy alternative.

Chicken Wings
Chicken Wings
Asparagus Poppers
Asparagus Poppers
Texas Chili
Texas Chili
Paleo Pizza Almond Meal Crust
Pizza with Almond Meal Crust
Baba Ghanoush - Eggplant Dip
Baba Ghanoush – Eggplant Dip
Bread Rolls
Bread Rolls

4 Comments Add yours

  1. meloheart says:

    It’s really difficult to have control over such tongue watering food items

    1. Tanya says:

      It truly is! I try to come up with paleo alternatives so I don’t feel as deprived. The worst for me is sweets. What is the most tempting food for you?

      1. meloheart says:

        I think I have a sweet tooth and fried foodies

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