It's now the middle of February - you won't be on your own if you've started to falter on your New Year's resolutions.
Sticking to a healthy eating plan can be a challenge because there’s temptation all around, especially with Easter coming up. To help you through, you should focus on why you wanted to make a change in the first place and utilise those feelings to encourage yourself to push on.
Here are 10 tips to help you to stick to your healthy-eating plan.
1. Stop thinking of it as a diet
You don’t want to feel restricted by the food that you are not allowed to eat, you want to feel empowered by all of the delicious food you can eat! Diets are associated with all sorts of negative feelings, so replace the word diet with “new healthy lifestyle” which is much more positive and refers to a continuous nourishing lifestyle.
Instead of saying “I can’t eat that, I’m on a diet”, you need to think of all of the fantastic dishes and snacks you can create with healthy ingredients.
2. Make a meal plan
One of the main reasons that we fall off the wagon is down to convenience. You arrive home from work so hungry that in a few moments your better judgement has gone out of the window and you automatically grab a huge bowl of cheesy pasta. Eliminate the thought process to cheat on your healthy-eating plan by making those decisions in advance by creating a meal plan. Write down 7 dinners, lunches and breakfasts you would like to eat over the next week and only buy ingredients for these meals so that you can’t be tempted to stray. You could either make a chart and decide which days you are eating what, or give yourself more freedom and decide as and when you fancy something. You’ll probably save a bit of cash too, as you won’t be buying produce that you don’t need.
3. Don’t go food shopping when you are hungry
Once you know what you want to eat then it’s time to hit the supermarket, but don’t even set foot in the door if you are hungry. Your willpower will be reduced and suddenly all of the food that you have been avoiding will be irresistible and you’ll end up with a trolley full of guilt. Instead, why not do your shop online? You will be able to take your time and pick exactly the right ingredients, plus as the food won’t actually be in front of your eyes, it will be easier to say no.
4. Prep your meals at weekends
If you don’t have time to cook meals from scratch every night then dedicate a couple of hours on a weekend to cook and prepare the majority of your meals for the following week. This will help you to stick to the set meal plan because the food will already be there for you to grab and reheat whenever you want. Make meals in large batches and freeze in separate portions for maximum time-saving.
Take your lunch to work with you every day so you aren’t tempted to stray from your plan. If you are going out for a meal, try and browse the menu beforehand so you can make a logical decision on what to order before pressure takes over and you choose something you might regret in the heat of the moment.
5. Surround yourself with lots of fresh, healthy food
One of the wonderful things about healthy eating is that you can pretty much eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you like. Treat yourself to exotic fruit that you haven’t eaten for years, have fresh grapes on hand as a snack, and keep huge containers filled with bite-size peppers, carrots and celery to consume. Whenever you feel hungry, you can turn to these types of food without any feelings of guilt.
6. Drink lots of water
Often when we feel hungry our bodies are actually thirsty, craving water for essential bodily functions and processes. Make sure that you are drinking water as soon as you wake up, before meals and before you go to bed at night, as well as topping up your hydration levels throughout the day to replenish fluids.
7. Strengthen your resistance muscle
Think of your willpower like a muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it will become. Everytime you say no to a craving you are strengthening your resistance muscle, building it up so that soon it will be so strong you don’t even realise it’s working. Yet every time you give in to something unhealthy you are weakening your willpower, so that the more you give in, the less strong you will feel.
8. Curb cravings with exercise
Cravings come in waves which don’t last long, but man are they difficult to control! While eating a healthy alternative is one way to curb cravings, it won’t eliminate the urge in the first place, so occupy yourself with something non-food related to banish cravings once and for all. Try doing some quick circuit exercises like squat jumps, press-ups and burpees for five minutes or until the cravings have subsided.
9. Eat at specified meal times
Create healthy eating habits that don’t include snacking, which is where you may fall off the wagon. Set yourself specific meal times to have breakfast, lunch and dinner and make sure you stick to these. Choose five or six smaller meals if you feel as though you’d rather eat little and often.
10. Be accountable
You are less likely to stray from your eating plan if you have to be held accountable for your actions. At the end of the day email a list of everything you ate to a friend, tell your partner, or write it down and stick it on the fridge so you can see it the next day. In addition to this, write down how it’s made you feel so that if you do have the occasional setback you can learn from your mistakes and move on.
These are just some of the tips that you can use to stick to your healthy-eating plan, but you can use whatever tactics you wish as long as it works for you. Diet is only part of a healthy lifestyle, exercise is vital too.