Last week I talked about the indications that a backslide is starting or in full swing in managing your weight loss. This week, we are focusing on part of the solution… getting healthy eating habits back on track. I broke it up a little because just like anything else when it comes to weight loss and our health, there are many factors that come into play.
So how does one regain healthy eating habits that seem to have been lost?
Many people, including myself at one point, believe that it is as simple as just making the decision to get back on track and go back to where they were before they fell off. Unfortunately, for most of us, it isn’t that simple.
Whether it has spiraled into eating too much, eating unhealthy foods, or both, chances are, your body has begun to adapt back to that style of fueling and while going about it “cold turkey” may work, for many it only creates a period of misery followed by giving back in to the unhealthy habits.
What I’ve found to be the secret sauce in reestablishing (or even establishing) healthy eating habits is a lot less painful and way more effective…
“Crowding Out” is adding in healthy foods without necessarily restricting unhealthy foods. It is the golden ticket that began my initial journey to lose over 100 lbs. Every time I wanted to run through a drive through or buy something in a convenient store, I either carried an apple with me or bought one. (I really didn’t care for apples at the time, but they were easy to carry) I began adding in other fruits, and then vegetables. It slowly spiraled into healthy ingredients in meals, and without a ton of effort, my eating habits cleaned up.
Make it Convenient
Change is difficult enough without making it harder by being completely inconvenient. (This is why I initially began “crowding out” with apples) This is especially important if you are an impulse eater. Little steps like pre-portioning foods and snacks, meal planning, and keeping something healthy handy makes it a lot easier to make better choices. When traveling, I bring a shaker bottle, greens mix, and protein powder, that way if I am not in a place where there is a healthy option I already have one. The same can be said with meal bars, however I am big on eating real food and some bars are just glorified candy bars so make sure you do your research.
Sounds easy, but most of us don’t fully chew or food or give eating our full attention. Enjoy your food, savor the flavors and textures. If you have a hard time remembering to eat slowly while you are actually eating, experiment with safe-gaurds that force you to slow down. You might only take a small amount of food at meal time and if you finish it, wait a few minutes. If you are still hungry, then go have another small portion. Some people put their fork down between bites, for a while I only used chop sticks to eat with. Find what works for you until it becomes second nature to eat slowly.
Give Yourself Some Flexibility
You aren’t dieting, you are creating eating habits that will last a lifetime. Be realistic. In and of myself, I can be a huge sugar junky. When I started out I allowed myself one single serving bag of Fizz’l Skittles every day (they don’t exist anymore). If I decided to swap it out for something else sweet, that was okay. But I knew every day I would have a sugary treat. Over time I was able to let go of the daily treat, but you don’t need to even worry about that right now.
Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
Focus on the day you are in to prevent overwhelm. When you focus on how well you used to eat compared to your current eating habits, or that you’ll never be able to let loose and eat x, y, or z, it is so self-defeating. Where you are at may not be where you wanted to be, but that’s okay because it is where you are at. You can learn from it so next time you start to feel a backslide coming on you can nip it in the bud.
New habits take time, even if they used to be easy for you. You are human. If you make a decision that doesn’t align with your goals, accept it, learn from it, and move on. The more you focus on your perceived “failure”, the more likely you are to throw in the towel and bounce to the opposite end of the spectrum.
Whether it be a coach, a friend, a group of friends, or a counselor, having others there to support you along the way makes the journey a lot easier. It can be a professional, someone who has been where you’ve been, or others going through the same process. Accountability to someone other than yourself can drastically improve your success at making the changes. I have a free community available to those who need support too.
If you need some help cleaning up your eating habits, grab my Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating. It will help walk you through the steps of cleaning up your eating habits as painlessly as possible!
Do you have any tried and true secrets to getting your eating habits back on track? Share them in the comments below!
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