A little over 60 days ago, I went on a 60 day quest to healthier eating. Then I went on a three-week vacation/eating extravaganza and now I am caught somewhere in the middle with the holidays quick on my heals. As I am trying to get back into all of my good habits that I had started during my quest, I came up with a few guidelines for myself and I thought I would share them with you.
1. Piss Poor Planning Prevents Proper Nutrition: When left to my own devices, I will not make the best decision. Let’s face it, it is easier and faster to get junk food then to stop and put thought into where you can get a healthy meal. The more thought I can put into my week the better off I will be. That is why weekend trips to the farmer market or grocery store are so important. I need to make sure that I have breakfast, lunch and dinner covered for the week. That the ingredients purchased make sense together and that there is something fun in my grocery cart to look forward to. It is starting off on the right foot.
2. H2O you are the love of my life: All my life I have been told that if you are hungry, drink water, chances are you are dehydrated. Turns out, its true. I started making it a challenge seeing if I can drink two Nalgeen water bottles before lunch and two after. I felt so much better throughout the day. I stopped getting headaches at the end of the day. I ate less throughout the day because I wasn’t hungry and I was too busy focusing on drinking water. It was the easiest change I made to promote a healthier lifestyle.
3. Loose the Guilt: “Hi, I would like a hamburger and fries with a side of guilt please.” I am human and there were days during the 60 days where I over-indulged. The problem was the moment I finished and the day after. I would either beat myself up eating super restrictive the next day or the pendulum would swing the other way and I would keep on indulging. I realized that I was not benefiting in the slightest degree by serving up guilt. Instead I need to enjoy that moment of a hamburger or milkshake or whatever it may be for exactly what it is. By making it into more than just a dish, it takes away from all of the other amazingly delicious healthy food there is out there. By enjoying my quinoa stir fry as much as my burrito I am putting them on the same level and therefore the substitution is easier.
4. It’s Not A Race, Slow Down: I know I have mentioned this issue before but it is something I struggle with. I eat like at any moment someone is going to grab my plate and take it away. Like a dog hovering over their bowl, I chow down with ferocity. There are a couple of issues with this. One is that I can quickly eat to the point of being uncomfortably full, which is never fun. But the bigger issue I discovered was that I put so much work into prepping a dish and I was spending such little time devouring it. It was off-balance. When I slow down and really savor what was created, I eat less and I am happier…and who doesn’t want to be happier.
5. The Rule of Thirds: This was the most important thing that I learned. On average I eat three meals a day and I need one of those meals to be something fun. It needs to have thought put into it, take a little time to prepare, be a restaurant that I wanted to try or that I really enjoy. I am one of those people who doesn’t eat to live but that lives to eat. If I eat the same thing over and over again, by the end of the week I am splurging on something unhealthy. If I put thought into the food I eat for at least one meal a day, that “live to eat” mentality will be satiated and I can continue to eat delicious healthy food.
Everyone has their own set of guidelines, tricks that work for them in their quest to be healthier. The hard part is finding them. When we try to live by someone elses diet we end up making food into this task that needs be checked off a to do list. We take the fun out of it and it becomes something that controls us. On the other side of the coin, if we do not learn how to enjoy and respect food for the amazing fuel it gives us we end up taking it for granted. Eating the items that are overly processed, mass consuming and treating our bodies as expendable. It’s all about the balance. As you enter this holiday season, think about the guidelines that give you balance.