I’m not going to lie–making the change to improve your health by eating real, whole foods can be a struggle. For some people it takes a lot of courage, motivation, and preparation to make this change, and having to be around others who continue to eat sugar- and fat-laden processed foods that we once used to love (and maybe still kinda do) can be difficult.
Whether it’s donuts and candy at the office or cheeseburger and fries when you’re out with friends at the bar, you are going to be faced with making healthy food decisions ALL THE TIME. Does it suck that modern society makes eating nutrient deficient, delicious-tasting Frankenfoods the norm? Yes, it sucks. Big time. But like all good things that require patience and perseverance, you have to constantly remind yourself WHY you are choosing NOT to eat those foods. Keeping your eye on the bigger picture will help you stay on track.
Additionally, once your body has stopped consuming these crappy processed foods for a certain length of time you will no longer have those strong cravings. Even if you do indulge in them, you’ll often find that it doesn’t taste as good as you hoped it would, because your taste buds have become accustomed to the nutrient-dense, delicious REAL foods you’ve been eating.
With that being said, we are always going to face the decision of choosing something that makes us healthy and happy in the long run or something that maybe isn’t so healthy and really only will satisfy us momentarily. Here are some tips with how to deal with those choices.
1.) Don’t allow yourself a certain number of cheat meals or unhealthy foods to eat in a certain set time–this rarely works because we feel we aren’t satisfied with that set number or we feel we “have to” eat them–it ends up badly every time.
Instead, when you are out at a restaurant, party, or BBQ, make the decision in the moment and commit to it. AND DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT IT. The feelings of guilt we have when eating foods that may not be especially healthy for us just perpetuate the vicious cycle of dieting, falling off the wagon, feeling guilty, binging, then dieting again.
We should NEVER feel bad about what we put in our bodies. Instead we should just me more conscious and mindful about it. Ann Wigmore says, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” What we choose to put in our bodies should fuel it so it’s a fine-tuned, well-working machine. That doesn’t mean that at our best friend’s wedding we shouldn’t have that champagne and decadent wedding cake, or when we’re out for a special dinner with our loved ones that we can’t have our favorite dish even though it’s not totally healthy.
2.) Plan ahead of time. Know you’re headed on a long trip where healthy eating choices are few and far between? Prep your own delicious, healthy food at home ahead of time and take it with you. Going out with co-workers for happy hour? Check out places online ahead of time to see which ones have a healthy food option for you and ask that you all go there. Headed to a party, BBQ, or potluck? Bring a dish you know you can eat so if there aren’t many or any healthy options you know you’ll at least have something. You can also eat a high-fat, high-protein healthy snack or small meal ahead of time to help keep you full until you get home again.
Taking the time to plan ahead and prep for these events that take you out of your safe zone of healthy foods at home will allow you to navigate the “real world” so much better. Make the healthy choice the easy choice and you won’t have to worry when it comes time to eat.
3.) Own your healthy lifestyle with a strong, positive attitude and you can avoid the naysayers and people who try to peer pressure you into eating the crappy foods they are eating. Got friends or co-workers who don’t understand the way you eat or make you feel bad for missing out on eating delicious junky foods? Having a strong “why” will keep you from giving in or letting other people’s insecurities about their own eating throw you off your game.
You don’t have to “keep up with the crowd” to feel good about yourself. That comes from within, regardless of what you eat, weigh, or how you look. If you believe you are an awesome, good person then that’s all that matters. Other people’s opinions of you is their problem not yours, so just do your own thing and be happy!
Are these tips full-proof? No way. Nothing in life is certain, and we are only human. We will mess up, fail, make mistakes, and probably feel less than stellar about it; but, we need to learn from our mistakes and allow them to be a part of our journey instead of a hindrance.
What are some of your tips for continuing to eat healthy out in the real world?