For me to be successful, I had to re-learn all of my food habits. I’d been eating one way (the wrong way) for all of my life so I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t know how to eat and what to eat. And I really didn’t know how much to eat. The Weight Watchers program helped me learn. But you don’t have to sign up for a fancy weight loss program (although I highly recommend it to everyone I talk to…) to be successful. Tracking what you eat in a notebook, on an app on your phone, or with something like My Fitness Pal is a great habit to start. Realizing what and when I ate was a huge wake-up call for me.
Once I figured out better things to eat, I got more adventurous in my menus and things I was willing to try. But I pretty much have a routine for my eating. Figure out what you like to eat, what fills you up the fastest, and work within that, especially in the beginning. Always have fruits and vegetables around for snacking and make sure you’re eating from one of those groups–something from a garden–at every meal. Make it a habit, a regular part of your meal.
This would also be the time to tell you to drink lots of water, but truthfully, I’m not very good at that. I have, in the past two months, started drinking more water because I’ve noticed I can’t run as long if I’m not well hydrated. But I do so begrudgingly. I drink a lot of diet Mt. Dew. I know it’s bad for me. And I have no intentions of stopping. Moving on.
What’s worked the best for me with my eating is having a consistent grocery list. I grab the same staples every time I’m at the store and then add other things based on what meals I’m making for my family or what my kids need. But having some things always available helps me make better choices because there’s always something I can make. And sometimes I make dinner for my family and then make something else for myself. I know that’s probably not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. I could eat breakfast food for all meals. My husband and kids could not. I could eat turkey sausage and sauteed veggies every day. The rest of my family could not. So I do spend more time in the kitchen than I used to, but it doesn’t bother me and I like to cook. And the results have been worth it.
Don’t let your family be an excuse to not eat healthy. Make some dinner component that you can all eat and then make a slightly different variation of the rest for yourself. I don’t care what others tell you, if you want to be successful you’re going to have to change your eating habits whether the rest of your family is on board or not. It’d be great if they were, but if they’re not, it’s not an excuse for you. End of story.
Here’s what I always pick-up every trip to the grocery store (I shop every two weeks).
Making healthier choices at the grocery store is expensive, I don’t have any tips for that. Junk food is cheaper to buy, unfortunately. But my health is worth it and so I’ve just had to come to terms with it. Even though I do cringe every time I check out. Any secret money-saving tips for that would be appreciated, for sure.
Now that you’ve figured out what healthier things you like to eat, get into a routine. I prep foods for the week on Sunday afternoon, making sure I have food for breakfast and lunch ready. If I don’t have something ready to grab in the sixty seconds I give myself to pack my food for work, I’ll grab something I shouldn’t be eating or buy lunch from the school cafeteria which is never a good idea (for a number of reasons…). Be prepared! Bag snacks, separate breakfast items, and fill Tupperware containers with lunch options. I eat turkey bacon every morning on my way to work. Then I’ll have fruit an hour later during my prep. I try to make room at the end of my day for a little chocolate snack. It just gives me something to look forward to.
Figure out what routines work for you. Have enough time to make breakfast every morning? Perfect, do that. Know that you need something sweet every day around 3:00? Be ready with a snack. I love to snack on Special K Vanilla Almond cereal so I have it portioned out in baggies so if I have the munchies, I can just grab a bag, not the whole box. Set yourself up for success with food. Not planning or waiting to make something when you’re “starving” is a recipe for disaster.
You can’t avoid food when you’re trying to get healthier so make sure you’re stacking the odds in your favor by filling your kitchen with nutritious (and delicious) options and have a plan for when you’re hungry. Plan for success! Remember, this isn’t a diet. You’re learning new ways to eat and this is for life, not just for a moment. Think long term in your planning.