Getting Back on Track Toward Healthier Eating
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
So, along with the whole “so, what’s your secret? How did you lose all that weight?” question, one of the other questions I am frequently asked is “how do I get back on track after days….weeks…months…maybe even years of not eating all that healthy?”
Let’s face it, even the most committed among us can’t be all good all of the time. I mean, we’re not striving to be canonized upon our death (preferably at a very old age…and by chocolate). We all have our culinary weaknesses and, if we aren’t always diligent in avoiding them, we can at least try not to fall into their deliciously dastardly traps for long stretches of time.
So, what to do if that batch of homemade cookies or that bag of potato chips got the best of you…
First, take a deep breath, step back from the edge of your urge to just give up, put the fork (or bag) down and put it all behind you.
There…it’s in the past.
Now, let’s focus on how to get back on track. Here are some of the tricks I rely on if I’ve had one-too-many friendly moments with foods I normally reserve for occasional indulgence.
- Start right now. No waiting for Monday, or for the first of the month, or New Year’s Day, or when the moon is retrograde and in Pisces. Right this minute is as good as any time to refocus on healthy eating or getting back into a workout routine
- Keep a food diary. I see you rolling your eyes…it’s so Weight Watchers ® 1985. But let me assure you, if you’ve never kept one, or haven’t in a while, it’s an amazingly effective tool for getting your arms around where you need to focus your efforts. And when I say keep a diary, I mean write down every morsel and drink that crosses your lips. Every. Last. One. That cup of coffee you called breakfast, write it down. The doughnut at the office that you finally broke down and ate half of (then the other half about 20 minutes later because for some reason it feels less wicked when we eat anything in halves–and spaced precisely 20 minutes apart)…write it down. The handful of candy you had as you raced out to pick your kids up from practice….write it down. If you’re feeling especially committed to using this tool to really help you understand where you’re at from an eating perspective, also jot down the time of day and a few simple words to describe how you were feeling at the time. I know it’s totally self-helpy, but give it a try anyway. The tricky part to this exercise is not judging what you’re writing down. This isn’t about giving yourself written weapons against your self esteem. It’s not about shaming yourself when you review all of the “bad” things you’ve eaten. It’s about identifying where your landmines are and finding ways to avoid them…or at the very least, minimize the impact they have on your overall commitment to eating healthier. After a couple of days, you’ll begin to see where you need to direct the most attention to getting yourself back on track
- Have a healthy breakfast. It’s amazing the momentum you can build for the day just by having a great breakfast. No need to over think this one…plain yogurt with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey, cottage cheese with a piece of toast, even a handful of almonds and an apple. One of my favorite ways to get myself back on track is to have a smoothie…they’re quick, portable and a great way to get in a couple of servings of fruit and veggies at the start of my day. You can see more of my healthy breakfast ideas in my previous post about healthy AM eating on the go
- Find some new recipes or foods to try. Or treat yourself to a new kitchen gadget. One of the biggest reasons for a rut is boredom. We find a handful of healthy recipes that we like and that are easy to prepare and we overdo them (I fell into a rut last summer with this amazing Greek salad recipe I discovered. So good the first twelve times I had it….and a total letdown the thirteenth time). It’s energizing to feel excited when we have something new to look forward to, so seek out something novel for you to try whether its a recipe, gadget or an intriguing ingredient
- Get some exercise. I am constantly amazed by how great I feel after I move my body…particularly on the days when I actively seek every excuse imaginable for not getting up at the crack of dawn (including one of my favorites: it’s raining (I live in the Pacific Northwest)). It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you embrace, just do something that you enjoy and that you might actually look forward to
Remember that every moment offers and opportunity for a fresh start. Breakfast include a certain famous cinnamon bun? Put it behind you and make your next bite or drink a healthy one. Couldn’t resist the kung pao chicken at lunch? Let it go and make better choices at dinner. So much of what will determine your success in getting healthier depends on resilience in the face of challenges (which usually take the form of a huge hunk of chocolate cake).
Getting Back on Track Toward Healthier Eating