Does this sound familiar?
You go to the grocery store, and with the best of intentions you load up on fresh produce – all those beautiful, shiny, misted fruits and veggies. You get home and joyfully put them in the fridge and on your countertop. A week or so later… you throw most of it out. Those salad greens are mushy, the veggies wilted, the fruit went bad.
I know… I’ve done that too. It sucks. And worse than the waste of food, is the feeling that I failed at something _good_ I set myself out to do. It’s not that I didn’t want to eat all that produce… it’s just that… well… I’m busy. Life got in the way. I was tired. It was late.
You know how that goes.
Today I’m going to give you 3 tips so that you can ACTUALLY follow through with your goal of eating healthier. Let me point out right off the bat that I am not going to tell you what you should or should not eat, I’m showing you ways to optimize your space and mindset to support your goal of eating better. If you want tips about food itself, here I give you a great guideline, and here I give you more details on nutrition itself.
Let’s jump into it.
1. Have a Plan
As much as winging it has its appeal, we rarely wing the most important things in our life. Whether we plan months in advance or hours in advance, our lives follow some sort of structure, framework or routine. It’s important to know WHAT you want to do, and be specific. Don’t use words like “more or less”, be specific and plan for it.
Instead of: Eat more vegetables
Try: Eat 2 servings of vegetables with at least 1 meal every day
Instead of: Eat less sugar/desserts
Try: Substitute one dessert for fresh fruit per day
Instead of: Cut all processed foods
Try: Eat more minimally processed foods, and limit highly palatable ultra processed foods to once or twice a week.
These are just EXAMPLES, but each rewrite is showing you a more clear and objective plan, this is something you can organize yourself around. So when you have all that beautiful food around you, you know that your goal is clear, and it’s easier to move forward when you have clarity.
Experiment with meal planning
Another way to have a plan is to plan your meals. This is done in many different ways, and there will be something that appeals more to you. Some meal planning techniques are:
– Make a weekly or monthly list of the meals you will prepare/eat
– The night before, plan your meals for the day
– Have a group of healthy foods you always have on hand and prepare your meals using these in your day-to-day life
– Order a catered meal or meal in a box
These are a few ways you can meal plan. The plus side of having some type of meal plan (how flexible is obviously up to you) is that you take the guesswork OUT of the meal. When you’re hungry you will always choose convenience, if you planned your meals and you have a clear goal, you’re more likely to follow through.
2. Always be Prepared
Being prepared is what makes or breaks you, it’s the difference between follow through and giving up. This is where you need to experiment to see what fits best in your life, and what you prefer, but it is imperative that you be prepared in advance. My personal goal is to never take more than 10min to prepare a meal for myself, and there are many ways to do this. If you’re unsure what will work best for you, just try a few different things for a few days at a time, you’ll land on something that fits for you.
– Prepare several meals in individual containers, one for each day/meal
– Freezer meals. Freeze completed or only needing a few steps to finish and defrost/finish when it’s meal time
– Batch prep. Prepare double or triple of a meal a few times a week and eat leftovers during the following days
– Make a huge salad every 3 days and add that to whatever else you are eating (or just eat that!)
– Chop veggies in advance and simply have them ready to create a meal in minutes
– Have fruit washed, and when applicable, chopped and portioned
– Prepare chicken/meats in big batches and refrigerate or freeze. Take what you’ll eat for each meal, and add to the above chopped veggies or salad.
These examples will set you up for a meal in minutes, and you can do a little of both. For instance, I always have chopped veggies and grilled chicken on hand, and whenever I make soup I make a huge pot and freeze it to eat for a few weeks.
3. Reduce Temptation
Our environments directly impact our actions, I talk about this in more detail in this post, but the jist is that your environment sets you up for your choices. For instance, if you have a candy bowl by your front door or a snack drawer in your office, you will reach for these foods without even having to think about it. On the other hand, if you choose to reduce these temptations and add the choices you want to make… well, you guessed it, you will make the healthier choice. If you are hungry and you have a stocked cookie jar on your counter, you’ll probably reach for one, even while you’re prepping those veggies. If you don’t have that cookie jar… well, you won’t eat them.
YOUR temptation is exactly that: YOUR temptation. So what you need to tweak in your environment depends on what triggers you, what sets you up for poor choices, what you want to start replacing with better options.
For ME personally, chocolate is my downfall. After many years I am so much better at resisting the chocolate binge (because one piece is NEVER enough), but it’s HARD for me, so I simply don’t keep it in the house. Candy, on the other hand, I could not care less. You can leave a bowl right in front of me and I don’t care for it, so I don’t eat it.
You figure out what would serve you to have less around you, and work with that.
Include your tribe
This is a BIG one. Your spouse, your family, the people you live with… these people play a HUGE role in your environment. If you are choosing to make some changes, or to make some reductions or additions to your eating habits, talk to them. Not everyone will be on the same journey as you, and that is ok. You are responsible for you.
That being said, the people who love you will support you and you can find ways to compromise. As an EXAMPLE, my husband likes to have dessert. Even though I practically don’t eat sugar, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t. I do me. He does him. Our compromise? We have the desserts that he likes and I don’t. That way, we both get what we want, and no one feels burdened by the other person’s choices.
Have the conversation, find the middle ground. You might be surprised with how much you can inspire someone to join you, and how many times people will _want_ to do something together.
The whole point is to make eating healthier EASY. We tend to think that the healthier meals will be costly and overly complicated. They don’t have to be. If you don’t like to cook, have very little time, or just aren’t interested in creating different meals all the time – find the simplest solutions! If you love to cook, if you enjoy creating something different each day, have all you need on hand and ready to go, so all you have to do is give yourself the joy of creating.
Enjoying food is something our culture tends to frown upon, as if actually enjoying to eat were something bad. Kick that diet mentality to the curb. ENJOY what you eat, have a wonderful experience every time, and if you keep it simple and apply the 3 tips above, you will most definitely walk the path of eating healthier… and the longer you journey the easier it becomes.
Keeping it simple,