February 4th 2019
It’s not a short term diet. It is a long term lifestyle change.
At the start of January, many of us eagerly jumped into new years resolutions with the intention of keeping them all year long. However, it is a sad truth that many people fall out of their healthy habits as early as February due to temptation, laziness, or inability to upkeep the practices started at the beginning of January. One of these resolutions that often gets left behind is the goal to eat cleaner, either for weight loss or general health.
I find that this goal often fails early on because we don’t approach it correctly from the start, therefore we are setting ourselves up for disaster. However, I think I have a pretty solid list of tips and hacks that have really helped me stay on the clean eating train longer than I have in years past and I would love to take this opportunity to share it with any of you who have struggled like I have in the past.
- Smaller plates help with portion control- I don’t remember where I originally heard this, but this is something I learned my freshman year of college and it actually works! Eating your food off of smaller plates or out of smaller bowls help create the illusion that you’re eating way more than you are because the plate or bowl appears fuller. This really helped me control portions and prevented me from stuffing myself. I often felt full after one plate of food, but if I wasn’t full I could have seconds and it would be just as much as if I had one big plate. I often found that when I ate off of a bigger plate, I felt I needed to fill the plate in order to be getting enough food. But when eating off a smaller plate, I realized that it was just my mind connecting space cover to what is considered to be “enough”.
- Find craving replacements- Sometimes, especially when I’m bored, I crave junk food. I am a huge snacker so these cravings are where I often put on the most weight and killed my healthy eating. However, I have found that finding craving replacements has been a huge help. If I am craving snacks out of boredom, I often try to distract myself or drink water and the craving goes away. By replacing the craving with distracting activities and water, I realize that I wasn’t hungry, just bored. If you are genuinely hungry though, try swapping unhealthy snacks for something a bit better. Fruit and celery with peanut butter really help with my sweets cravings and things like popcorn, veggie straws, or rice cakes often curb the cravings for heavier snacks like oily chips.
- Eat foods you actually like- This sounds pretty obvious, but I actually think this is what kills people’s healthy eating goals. You don’t have to eat things just because they are healthy. If you don’t like spinach, don’t force yourself to put it in your food just because it is healthy. If eggs gross you out, find another way to get protein that you do enjoy! You can eat healthy while still finding foods you enjoy. A lifestyle change can only be sustainable and lasting if you actually feel happier by making the change.
- Have a set time to stop eating- I find that when I eat after 8PM, I often gravitate more towards junk food than I do earlier in the day. By telling myself that I am done eating at 8, I am allowing my body to process the calories I have eaten in the day and I am preventing myself from taking a late night binge on junk.
- Meal prepping is your bff- I am going to start off by saying that I am the worst at this, but I know that it is a good tip. Meal prepping prevents you from caving and eating junk because you already know what you’ll be eating when you start your day. By meal prepping, you are more likely to stick to eat food you pre-prepared instead of buying a cheap and unhealthy lunch. By meal prepping, you can also be fully informed about what is going into your food because you prepared it yourself.
- Use bowls when snacking- If you hand me a bag of chips, I can eat a bag of chips. Without portion control, it is so easy to mindlessly eat or lose track of exactly how much you’re eating. That is such a big weakness for me. If I am given a snack in its box or bag, I keep eating without paying any attention to the actual recommended portion size. If I put a portion in a bowl, I am less likely to go back for more.
- Read more than just calories on labels- This was why healthy eating failed for me for the longest time. I would only read the calorie counts and portion sizes on labels and nothing else! I would never read ingredients, carbs, sugar, sodium, or any of the other nutrition facts and I was unknowingly pumping myself with junk. By reading a full nutrition label, you come to realize how different 100 calories of potato chips are from 100 calories of rice cakes. Or how different a serving of regular pasta is from a serving of zucchini noodles. Just because something is low calorie, doesn’t mean it is good for you.
Overall, cleaning eating is an incredibly personal process. Every person has their own set of needs, challenges, methods that work. These were just a few of mine that have helped me stay on track. If you have a unique method of staying on track, feel free to share it in the comments for anyone who needs a little extra advice!