Ditch the Dieting and Meal Planning - What to do instead

It’s Monday and you’ve promised yourself that you’ll do better.  After a whole week of “bad eating,” you decide that Monday is absolutely the day you’ll get back on track.  You’ve mapped it out already - you’re going to pack salads all for lunch, stop eating sweets, and finally “get clean.

The first day isn’t too bad, the second okay, but by day 4, the sight of your spinach salad makes you gag.  You also can’t tolerate another green protein smoothie, after drinking the same thing over and over again. Your coworker asks you out to lunch and you simply oblige.

Sound familiar?  Yep, while I’m not saying that meal plans aren’t necessary (they can be useful at times), like dieting, they’re temporary and just plain suck after a while.  Then pretty soon you’re off nosediving back into the afternoon sugar pick me up, the afterwork binges, feeling like you’re back to square one.

So what can you do instead?  Here are some suggestions:

TIP # 1: Upgrade 1 thing/meal at a time - The reason most diet sucks is because they do nothing for creating new habits or changing sabotaging ones.  So pretty soon, your life gets busy or throws a curveball at you and because you were using willpower, you soon are back to where you started. So instead of replacing all or nothing, try upgrading one thing at a time such as:

  • Upgrade from processed foods to whole foods

  • From whole foods conventionally grown to organically grownFrom internationally grown to local grown

    Some other ideas include:

  • Upgrade your breakfast from processed foods to whole foods (e.g. Fruit Loops to Whole Grain Cheerios, or instead of 3 lumps of sugar in your coffee upgrade to 1 and some coconut milk)

  • Upgrade your sandwich for lunch to have 1 slice of bread instead of 2

  • Upgrade your after meal dessert from chocolate to a fruit

  • Upgrade your snacks from chips to a handful of nuts

  • Add a hand-sized portion of protein to each meal

  • If you eat out, order a salad instead of the french fries

TIP # 2: Honor your need for variety - Sometimes our efforts fail because simply we are bored with the food we’re having!  All eating is emotional. Let me repeat. All eating is emotional.  So if you’re finding yourself uninspired by the food you have, it’s time to get creative and experiment a little.  There are plenty of foods that are nutritious as well as delicious. Seriously, just google “Health nutritious recipes” and you’ll be bombarded with a plethora of options! Try one new recipe a week. Think of it as a new adventure into honoring your taste buds and your health.

TIP # 3: Focus on improving how you eat, instead of what you eat - So much of dieting gets us to label foods as good or bad, then we feel guilty for eating foods that are “bad” for us, which may set us up to binge on them again.  So instead of improving what you eat, focus on how. Eat slowly and mindfully. Listen to your hunger cues. In tasting the food, you honor the food and your soul by being fully present and focused on it.

For you overachievers, remember you don’t have to go for “all-or-nothing.”  Go for “good ‘nuff” and keep adding on each week. You’ll be amazed how far you go taking it one step at a time!