How to Get “Back on Track” and Stay on Track
1.Understand that learning how to eat healthy is a process. It takes time and practice to overcome a lifetime of poor food habits. You can’t expect to something you’ve done over years to change in a week, but you can chip away at it little by little. Most of us eat 3 meals a day and every meal is a chance to make a better choice when faced with temptation. You can view it as a challenge. Can I challenge myself today to choose the spinach over the romaine? Or can I challenge myself to get no cheese on my hamburger? The small changes add up and over time, they won’t become a challenge any more but a habit.
2. Start now, not tomorrow, or the next day. People have a tendency to self sabotage. If you mess up at one meal, it doesn’t mean you messed up for the entire day, entire week, or even the entire month. Hit the reset button at the next opportunity you get to eat. If you went out and had Belgian waffles for brunch, well, there’s always dinner to have a better meal!
3. Practice balance. It’s unrealistic to ask yourself to eat rigidly 100% of the time. You don’t have to cut out foods from your life or avoid social settings. Here are examples of being balanced versus unbalanced during a dinner out.
Example of being unbalanced:
Appetizer: Fried calamari
Entree: 16 oz porterhouse steak, side of whipped mashed potatoes, and side of vegetables
Dessert: Chocolate lava cake with whipped cream
Drinks: 3 cocktails
Example of being balanced:
Appetizer: Sautéed calamari, salad with dressing on the side, or raw oysters
Entree: Split a 9 oz filet mignon, baked potato + small pat of butter, and a side of vegetables
Dessert/Drinks: Choose between drinks or dessert. Which one is more important to you? OR split the chocolate lave cake with no whipped cream and enjoy 1 cocktail
You can see here that practicing balance allows you to still go out and indulge but not over do it. You’ll leave the restaurant feeling proud of yourself, satisfied, and not deprived.
4. Be realistic. Studies show that people can underreport how much they eat by about 25%. So if you think you’re eating 1500 calories each day, you could actually be consuming 1875 calories daily! Practice reading the serving sizes on labels. You may be surprised at how much you usually eat versus how much you actually need to eat to feel full. Another tool you can use is, using a calorie tracking app. I like the Fat Secret or My Fitness Pal app. Logging helps you stay on track by keeping yourself accountable. It’s kind of like having your own checkbook for calories. Just like how you shouldn’t spend more than you make, you shouldn’t eat more than what you’re body needs.
5. Set an intention. Right before you go to bed, think about what you’re going to eat the next day. Make a mental checklist of what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and perhaps, snacks. You can do this while you’re brushing your teeth or as you doze off for bed. I promise, it will take only 1-2 minutes! If you have a meeting at 12pm the next day but usually eat lunch at that time, decide if you will eat lunch before or after the meeting. If you decide to eat lunch afterwards, will a snack be beneficial to help off-set your hunger and to have a more productive meeting? If so, what snack will you have? Let’s say you plan to meet a friend for dinner later that evening. Think about some healthy menu options that you can order at the restaurant. Now, whether or not you will choice that menu item when you arrive, who knows. But just setting an intention beforehand helps reduce any bad temptations when you arrive to dinner. Setting an intention has more to do with thinking than doing. It’s not about meal prepping or food shopping. It’s just an attempt to make better choices that are not impulsive because you’re deciding on these choices in a clear state of mind.