Step Away From the Food!

blue light

Have you ever seen a police movie where the police officer tells the bad guy, “Just step away from the vehicle.” Every time I see one of those shows I am reminded of a funny thing I heard one of the many, many, many times I was a Weight Watchers member. I had rejoined for the 30th time, and since it was my first week (again) on the program, I actually stayed for the meeting. The leader was giving a talk and she kept saying, “Just step away from the food.”  I remember sitting there with my thighs hanging over the sides of the chair thinking, “How do you step away from the food when you love it so much?” Even though that was the only meeting I attended during that particular membership, the phrase has stuck in my head all these years.

When I finally got scared and frustrated enough to lose my weight I didn’t use Weight Watchers to lose weight, but I did use that phrase. “Just step away from the food, Diane.” (Note: WW is great!)

You see, I was always lingering near food. I spent a lot of my day in the kitchen preparing food, organizing food, and eating food. I loved buying food for myself. I’d stand in the candy aisle of the grocery store trying to decide which package called my name the loudest at that moment. Sometimes I’d buy the Rolos and the Hershey’s miniatures, rationalizing that because I bought two bags, I might could share a few pieces with the family. But I didn’t usually share. I usually stashed them away and ate both bags.

As a morbidly obese 300 pound woman, I couldn’t seem to step away from the food. When I started my journey, learning to step away was important for me. The hard part was that I couldn’t just turn my back on cooking, shopping for food, or eating. I really needed to change how I did those things.


Just because I wanted to lose weight didn’t mean that I could stop cooking for the family. On the contrary, I actually needed to cook more, because I didn’t want to continue eating out 3 to 4 nights a week, which had been our habit. We still ate out, but I needed to learn to cook healthy, nutritious foods that fit within my plan. So I made the conscious decision to step away from fried foods, high fat entrees, and making cakes several times a week. I began cooking more, and modifying our favorite recipes in a way that made everyone happy.


It was hard to step away from the candy aisle, the cookie displays, and the full fat chips. I still remember longingly looking at the big bags of candy, and packages of Oreos on the end cap displays, just wishing I could eat it all. But I resisted. If I really wanted a sweet treat, I bought something small, and shared it with the girls. I stepped away from buying large amounts of food just for me.


Obviously I couldn’t stop eating anymore than I could stop breathing. So stepping away from eating wasn’t an option. But stepping away from eating enormous quantities of unhealthy food was an option, and was a requirement for me to gain control over my food choices.

These changes didn’t happen overnight, but they did happen. Every time I stepped away from a bad food choice, I felt like I was one step closer to my goal. Even if I didn’t lose a pound that week, just remembering all the good choices I had made reaffirmed that I was finally on the right path.

Have you found things that you need to step away from? What has worked for you? What hasn’t?

I realize that I went “fast” over these three areas: cooking, shopping and eating. I really want to explore them further on another day!   Diane

31 thoughts on “Step Away From the Food!

  1. MizFit says:

    your stepping away sounds the same as my:

    does this get me closer to or further away from my goal??

    (and I did this with everything. from spending time with toxic friends to oreos)

    some days the answer was FURTHER AWAY (hello movie popcorn!) and I did it anyway but at least then it was an 100% conscious CHOICE.
    .-= MizFit´s last blog ..First Person Friday: my weekend. =-.

  2. 266 says:

    Great topic! Something else that runs directly along these lines is literally stepping away from what’s in front of you. I have walked away from chips, given my husband baked goods to take into work so they are not in the house, and averted my eyes when watching someone eat something I would like. I think the literal interpretaion of this phrase is important. Physically removing yourself or the unhealthy food you are wanting from the same vacinity can really go a long way.
    .-= 266´s last blog ..Keeping My Word =-.

  3. Bearfriend says:

    Hi Diane. Vigilance when I’m shopping is the main thing for me. I know I can’t for example go into the local deli and not buy a load of treats so I just don’t go there. Going to a supermarket is like going through a Mindfield, saying no to so many things. I have to train myself not to even look at those things I don’t want to buy. If I walk too close to that shelf I will then have a battle in my own head about whether I really want to buy it. I have to be like a guided missile going only towards those shelves that contain things I need. So for me it’s not so much stepping away from the food but not going anywhere near it in the first place!

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx
    .-= Bearfriend´s last blog ..Shame and Guilt =-.

  4. Kris S. says:

    For me, like Bearfriend it’s the shopping that gets me. And it’s not even like I go to the store hungry or anything like that it’s just that I love to think about the food I could eat and make. So shopping for sure.

  5. Diane, Incredible Shrinking Family says:

    For me because we are doing this as a family, it has become in some ways easier, and in some ways a lot harder. Easier in the fact that once we started all of the bad food went to the food pantry and bad food did not enter in again. Harder in the fact that in order to assure that good food will be here in the proper proportions,at three different levels of caloric needs, I have to plan and plan well. Planning saves money,in the long run saves time, and saves you from the 5 pm freak out where people are hungry and you stand at the fridge hoping divine intervention will make some good and fast idea appear ( fast food almost always wins when these times happen in my house).

    We shop as a family. My son and husband are with me,and it is actually fun. It became fun because we established a few ground rules. First, it has to be on the list. Second, NO item can be bought that has more than 11 grams of sugar per serving . Third, it has to be real food. We all go because this is the easiest way to avoid money fights ( why did you spend so much on groceries) , and every human being should know exactly how to properly feed them self- including shopping skills.We all know the rules and we all hold each other accountable to them.

    Eating- there is no such thing as family style anymore here. Plates are portioned out in the kitchen and we sit to eat at the diningroom table or our computer work stations for breakfast and lunch( the timing room table is filled with homeschool materials during the day , so that is why we eat at our work stations). The kitchen is where the measuring cups, food scale and so forth are, and they are used with every meal.

    These things have worked for a multitude of battles- not just weight loss. And you are correct. It is one step at a time !
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Must See Fit TV =-.

  6. Amy H. says:

    My biggest achievement so far has been not bingeing since I started my blog. Not once. I wish I could say I’ve stepped away from it forever, but I still feel as if it’s lurking around the corner, waiting for a stressful moment to reappear.
    .-= Amy H.´s last blog ..Tuna Melts on Pitas =-.

  7. Monica says:

    The biggest accomplishment I’ve seen is when I can pass by the candy counter at checkout and not pick up a bar to eat on the way home. It’s really hard, but I’m stepping away!

  8. Joanna Sutter says:

    I try to stay on track 90% of the time. I also avoid the ice cream, chip and cookie aisles because if I buy it, I will eat it.

    If I am going to indulge in some of my “off limit” foods, I usually take small bites, chew thoughtfully to taste the food, put my fork down between bites, and I’ll even eat with my non-dominant hand to make it a little uncomfortable. These little tricks help me to not overdue it sometimes.
    .-= Joanna Sutter´s last blog ..Granola & Spice =-.

  9. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    I think cooking healthy meals and not buying “treats” in bulk were key for me. I have always loved healthy food, but when there is other, not so healthy, easy to grab food around, it’s just often so much easier to eat something not so healthy than to make a veggie sandwich…

  10. Robin says:

    I have to step away from white flower, cereal and sugar. In fact, we don’t keep cereal in the house because i have so little control around it.

  11. Sharla says:

    First, we do not eat family style either, like you, plates are portioned then handed out. I got rid of the table 🙂

    If homemade baked goods are dropped off or given as a gift, they are either put I hubbys car to take to work (as soon as giver leaves) or I hate to say, thrown away. I will still eat a plate of cookies or several slices of banana bread.
    My dear friend makes the best pistachio bread and she will now wrap up one slice in a bow and bring that-I love her for that- she is the only one. I ever told.

    Also, I had to stop my daily-sometimes 2 times a day fast food meals.
    A key to that is having all veggies washed,precut and bagged in portions. I grill and shred, cube, or dice all my chicken ahead of time and try to have a batch of homemade veggie soup in the fridge at all times- Easy, fast, good foods prevent a trip to Taco B#lla!

  12. Sean Anderson says:

    I’m ready to post the our interview together whenever you’re ready! Thank you again for the interview. Very insightful and interesting. You’re a natural Diane!
    Great post here by the way! I think “step away from the food” should be changed to “go ahead and enjoy the food responsibly,—I said RESPONSIBLY—Portion control!!!”

    I e-mailed the info about the interview to your hotmail account.

    My best always
    .-= Sean Anderson´s last blog ..Day 375 A Vital Element To Long Term Success =-.

  13. Lori says:

    I have those things that I just have to step away from. Certain foods (damn you Reeses PB cups!!) I must actually turn my head from in the stores. I find I can’t linger in some aisles when shopping, but must just get what I need and move on.

    I find that I cannot completely eliminate something forever, though. That just makes me want it more. So, I have learned that I can buy a small amount of something and really enjoy it.

    There are those times when I overdo it, but I just dust myself off and keep going.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..7-miler and views of myself =-.

  14. Pam says:

    Wonderful post and three major issues!

    Shopping has significantly changed, and so has my approach to cooking, which I do just as much of, but with a lot less butter, high fat cheeses, and more veggies and fruits.

    We went from using about 1.5 dozen eggs a week to 3-4 dozen, now that all we eat are the whites! I love how I can sit out dishes of candy now and the wrappers actually get dusty! A bag of chips went from anything fried to baked ones, and instead of being opened and munched on until the empty bag hits the trash, they get a clip and last us all week.

    Its a great thing to see us transform!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Weigh In for September 25th =-.

  15. Babbalou says:

    I’ve found it helpful to change the way I shop for groceries. Rather than go down each aisle with my cart (I’m SO not a list person), I shop the produce area, buying whatever looks good, go down the meat & dairy aisles to get whatever proteins I want to eat and then only go down the other aisles (WITHOUT my cart) to grab other items I need (canned beans and tomato products, cleaning supplies). I cook entirely from raw ingredients, basing my meals around the produce so don’t need to see all the prepared foods and snack foods that won’t help me get to that healthy, slim body I want. And of course I enjoy shopping at local farmers’ markets and the Asian grocery for interesting produce.

  16. Tina says:

    That reminds me of a friend I have who’s a cop. He says to his kids “step away from the attitude” 🙂

    Shopping is key for me to step away from the food. If I’m eating healthy, I don’t have any reason to go down certain aisles in the store. If I don’t go down those aisles I don’t have that food in the house. Recently my grocery store rearranged and they keep the Oreos across from the bread. I try not to look at them as I grab my pack of Sandwich Thins and run away.

  17. Hadley says:

    Step away from the food is a great saying. It’s one I’ve tended to apply literally at parties and events by keeping myself well away from any buffet tables, or on normal days by getting out of the house and away from my kitchen, but it’s nice to take a look at the metaphoric applications as well.

    Nice post, Diane!
    .-= Hadley´s last blog ..It depends on what your definition of is is =-.

  18. Leah says:

    Great post. Stepping away from the large portions is an area I’m working on right now. I’m also working on stepping away when I’m not really hungry…even if my choice snack is a healthy one. 🙂

    I know that what you wrote is largely linked to what will be success in my weight loss journey. I look forward to the day when “stepping away” is a natural instinct.

  19. Sarah says:

    This is a great mantra to keep in mind!

    One thing I’ve found to be incredibly helpful is to step the food away from me by keeping it in my cupboards. Sometimes I’ll buy something snacky and leave it out on the counter and it’s so hard for me to resist it, even when I don’t want it. But if I just put it away so that I’m not seeing it all the time, it really makes all the difference. Such a small thing, but so helpful!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Awe =-.

  20. Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit says:

    Excellent post! It’s something I try to stress to people too, because so many folks want to lose weight, but want to enjoy their favorite junky foods while they’re doing it. Maybe it can be done, but I seriously doubt it. For me, eating crap just whets my appetite for crap. The only solution that’s worked for me is chasing it out of my diet.

    Or, as someone smarter than me once put it, “stepping away from the food.”
    .-= Jack Sh*t, Gettin’ Fit´s last blog ..Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy =-.

  21. Jody - Fit at 51 says:

    Ah, yes, I have used that phrase before! Me, anything that I really really really LOVE like certain flavors of cookies or believe or not I love the Kashi Go Lean granola cereal, well, I just DO NOT bring it in the house. The cookies, I have to go out & buy one when I want it. I don’t eat packaged cookies like Oreos. I buy a big ole bakery one.

    But things like the Kashi cereal, although it is healthy. eating too much of anything can lead to you know what! So, I just don’t buy it or bring it home. If I get a craving, I can always buy a little bit of granola from the bins at my local health food store.

    It is all about choices & what is best for you. Like you Diane, I have learned also to keep the portion size down. I know with all the foods in my house, what is about the right size portion. If I want more, I do eat more, but I always know what I am doing & it is a conscious decision. No mindless eating in this house for me!

  22. vickie says:

    I too took this message literally.

    I have gotten up and walked out of a room when I was done with food for the day and my husband plopped down next to me to munch/crunch.

    I was VERY particular about what foods I exposed myself to in my own home – for a very long time.

    As my food habits got much cleaner – so did my families. And so now there are very few things that ‘call to me’ in my own house.

    My own trouble spot (still) is rye bread. Calls to me BIG time. My husband keeps it in the upstairs refrigerator and doesn’t toast or eat it when I am around – so it is invisible to me.
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..I am not likely to play one of those scent games. . . =-.

  23. Taryl says:

    Well the only thing that really helps me ‘step away from the food’ is that I journal what I eat. By writing down the item/portion before I eat it, it MAKES me pause and evaluate my decision. Too many calories for my day? I can take a smaller portion or say no all-together. It also prevents me from just grazing on junk. Remembering that I want to choose foods that NOURISH my body, and that if it is going to be junk it must be portioned out and accounted for, those things really help me make better choices.

    Seeing it all on my iPod, lined up, as well as the nutrient percentages, daily weights, etc etc… that really holds me accountable every time I want to take a bite. It’s just something I have to do to control myself and it works well for me 🙂

    NOT writing it down, or ‘eyeing’ it, is a recipe for disaster. I swear I get food amnesia, especially with things like cheese, nuts, brownie batter…. it’s just not worth it, so I take a small portion and account for it, and that is my built in control/food siren.
    .-= Taryl´s last blog ..Wrangled my computer into submission… =-.

  24. MackAttack says:

    That makes so much sense, I realized that, for myself, I had to step away from the grocery store. The husband isn’t tempted by treats like I am, so he doesn’t bring them home, and out of sight out of mind. I am pretty lazy when it comes down to it. Not having to deal with tempting food makes it so much easier!
    .-= MackAttack´s last blog ..eating on the go: potbelly’s =-.

Leave a Reply