A Cheatsheet for Making Healthy Eating Easy (Hint: It’s Not Willpower)

I’ve resisted chicken tenders and french fries, rice and beans, homemade pasta, caesar salad and chocolate mousse this whole month. But put a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc in front of me and I am powerless. I do love wine.

Yes, I fell off the wagon. A few times. It’s no wonder I wasn’t feeling amazing after a week. Oops.

It’s okay, I’m not giving up. I never claimed to have superior mental toughness. But this little setback did get me thinking about my own habits – how my willpower alone isn’t going to get me through this crazy diet. I need to put checks and balances in place to make sure that this does not happen again.

I realize now that when you set out to change a habit, you inevitably encounter obstacles which, when you hit them, make you more likely to quit.  No, willpower is not enough to get you through this change, especially in the beginning. You have to remove willpower from the equation as much as possible by anticipating any obstacles and triggers, and then making a plan for how to overcome them.  With the right systems in place, it becomes that much harder to quit.

Make the Commitment

I fall into this trap all the time. Read a book, get excited about whipping myself into ageless beauty, and dive in without really thinking it through.  This is step one. Before you make any kind of commitment, make sure you think about why you want this change and what aspects of your health you want to improve.

And write it down. With an actual pen and paper. Write exactly what you are going to do and for how long and hang it up somewhere you can see and be reminded to it every day. At home, at work, next to your bed – set up lots of visual reminders. Constant reminders will help you stay on track.

eat real food

Get Support Find people you trust and respect that you can turn to for support and encouragement when things get difficult. Fellow busy moms, your spouse, coworkers or even an online community. They’ll help you stay motivated. This is where I went wrong. I sabotaged myself by not telling anyone but my family what I was working on. And even then, I was highly vague.

Another popular behavior changing mind hack is making your goals public. When you announce to Facebook, Twitter and all of your coworkers what you are doing, you make it that much harder to cheat. Especially when you have people admiring your commitment and asking you how your diet is going. It’s in our nature to do what we announce we plan to do –  and to not let people down. Food Art Don’t Give Yourself Opportunities to Cheat You have to avoid situations that make you weak. Think about what circumstances you frequently find yourself in that makes you make bad food choices and find a way to deal with them. For example:

  • Throw out the bad food – don’t keep anything on your “do not eat” list in your house. Yes, even the kid’s treats if you think it’s going to be a problem for you.
  • Clear your schedule for the week and force yourself to eat at home while you’re adjusting to your new habit.
  • Plan all of your meals in advance so that you avoid situations where you are scrambling to make a diet friendly meal with no idea of what to cook or ingredients to cook with. It’s so much easier to heat up a frozen pizza than to pack the kids into the car and drive to the store.
  • Keep a healthy snack in your purse at all times, just in case.
  • Make the same things over and over again – you don’t need to impress anyone here. You’re just trying to make it through the week.
  • Cook in bulk – consider making some lunches and dinners on Sunday afternoon and keeping them in the freezer for easy access.

And remember, take it one day at a time – one meal at a time – one bite at a time. If you mess up, don’t sweat it. Figure out what the trigger was for your screwup and make a plan to deal with it next time.   Get free new post updates here:

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