After a yet another month of mindful eating, I’ve come up with six tips for eating healthy.
Being busy definitely helped me stay on track. It is much harder to eat right on the weekend when there is no set schedule, but lots of fun activities. In some ways that’s a sad statement. It is almost like saying I eat when I’m bored. But there is one tool I’ve always used that sometimes works and sometimes does not. If I want to eat and I think it’s just for the sake of eating, I take a walk or start doing some exercise. If afterward I still want the food I can have it. If nothing else, at least I’ve added more movement before eating something I perhaps should have skipped.
Planning & Prep
Having healthy snacks ready and on hand makes all the difference in the world. Junk food is very easy to grab. The good news is if pressed for time, there are locations that we can buy premade healthy options. For me, nuts was an easy snack to have around. But if you are a cheese lover maybe you want to always be stocked with cucumbers instead of crackers.
I found that if I was disappointed in my meal, I wanted to hunt for something tastier. But the better my meal, the more satisfied I was and the easier it was for me to stop eating. That meant that sometimes I meal included options that we don’t think of as healthy—a little bacon, for example. I’m not the greatest cook, but it was definitely important that I have what I like. If I had to sit down for chicken, broccoli, and a plain baked potato, I’d be miserable. A little fat, a little salt, and honestly a little sugar is all okay as long as we moderate.
Supposedly we can feel hungry when we are actually thirsty. There are times throughout the day when I feel like eating something, but I know I’m not hungry. Now I try to have a glass of water to see if that helps. The effectiveness of the water is directly correlated to how strong the craving is. This may also tie into the art of distraction.
If I don’t sleep well, I’m searching for a quick burst of energy all day. So for me to have any shot of eating healthy, I must attempt to attend to my sleep. This can be a tough one, but it helps with more than just our food choices. Some tricks I’ve been using lately are to get into bed earlier to decompress. I use a lavender aromatherapy (not sure if that helps, but it does feel relaxing when I take deep breaths).
Perhaps is easier to suffer together than alone, but doing this challenge with a group of people every year makes a difference. Knowing that other people are trying to do something good for themselves makes me feel less alone on the journey, and I find that is always a good thing. You and a friend may pick different goals. Maybe you need to cut back on sugar and she needs to cut back on alcohol, but you are in the challenge together. It can be hard in a world of Big Macs and chocolate shakes to say no to the things that mess you up, especially if you feel like you are the only one resisting temptation.
For me the real challenge always starts after the challenge. I could give up almost anything for a month, especially the shortest month of the year. It is living the balance. How do I eat some sugar and not eat all the sugar? Making something a lifestyle choice versus a diet is the hard part. I’m still working on that. For me personally, part of that is having rules. In the past, I’ve allowed myself one dessert a week or no sweets/desserts Monday through Thursday. I can run with that for a long time. Usually it’s a vacation that sets me off when I get out of my regular routine.
To read Maggie rant about portions click here.
To read about the Mindful Eating Challenge click here.
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