Do you eat to live or live to eat? Either way, you’ve definitely thought of changing the way you eat. Every day is an assault of so much information about what, why, and how we eat and it’s impossible to avoid. There are 3 main reasons why people decide on a diet change; weight loss, health issues, or athletic performance. Sometimes it’s all three. We’re not going to discuss any diet specifics today. I do want you to consider these six questions when you’re researching a diet change. They will help you identify potential problems, and help you figure out which ones are realistic for you.
Why are you changing your diet?
WHY is the biggest factor when you make a decision, especially one involving your whole life. Are you taking advice from your doctor or a good friend? Looking to lose weight or bulk muscle? Or you’re tired of feeling bloated and exhausted and are desperate for a change. All reasons are valid.
Having a clear goal in mind will help you break those bad habits and push through cravings. Try this: use “so I can..” when making your goal, and make it specific. For example, “I want to lose 20 lbs by eliminating processed sugar and dairy so I can play in a soccer league this summer.” You need to SEE yourself playing soccer. Visualize it, and it will happen. Heck, tape up pictures that inspire you and further your goals. I have a note stuck on one of my kitchen cabinets that says ‘Are you really hungry or just bored? Go and do something else!’ because one of my bad habits is mindless snacking. Having that little reminder there helps me stick to my goal.
What are the “rules”?
If you’re looking at trying a formal ‘diet’ you need to know the rules. For example, Whole30 has quite a long list of ‘non-compliant’ (their word for not allowed) foods. But, you’re only meant to do it for 30 days so it doesn’t seem so awful. Something like Paleo or Keto is a bit looser but still requires that you know a few rules on what not to eat. Intermittent Fasting has the least amount of ‘rules’ on what you should or should not eat. Timing your eating is another challenge to manage, however.
Take some time to clarify your lifestyle and current time commitments. Will this diet change actually help you or make your life more complicated? If you feel like you’re fighting yourself every step of the way you are much more likely to give up. Make things as easy on yourself as you can.
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Who else is making these changes with you?
Do you have a significant other living with you? What about kids? Are they participating in the diet change too, or are you going to have to make 2 different meals? In my house, I don’t make 2 different meals, but I do make meals that can break down into parts that everyone will eat. If I’m making chicken and roasted vegetables for myself and my husband, I’ll put the kids’ with some rice. They will eat almost everything if I tell them it’s ‘chicken and rice’. Or if I’m making spaghetti and meatballs for my kids, I’ll make some zoodles for hubs and me (and mix some in for the kids too!). It keeps the peace in my house and doesn’t sabotage my goals for myself.
How much preparation is necessary?
Going back to the rules, think about how much preparation you’re going to have to do. You know from my wellness rituals that meal planning is one of the best things I do for my sanity. It becomes even more important when you’re trying a new diet change. When we do Whole30 there is a LOT of prep work to make sure you aren’t starving all day. I still make tons of DIY Larabars for snacking on the go, even though we haven’t done W30 in a few months. It was extremely helpful to make big batches of compliant pasta sauce, salad dressing, and bbq sauce. We use those condiments the most and they are difficult to find with Whole30-approved ingredients. My best tip for any healthy eating is to prepare and cook 1-2 large meals that hubs and I eat for lunch. It helps cut down on fast food (both of us), no food (him), or grazing in front of the fridge all afternoon (me).
What are your contingency plans?
What happens when your boss invites you out to dinner with clients? Or when you get an invitation to your cousin’s wedding? You’ll need to think about both regular and unexpected social events when you change how you eat. If declining to eat Grandma’s lasagna on Sunday is going to cause family stress, then you need to plan for that. Have an open discussion about your plans with your friends and family. It can be helpful, but only if they’re supportive. Above all, make plans and remember that you’re doing this for you.
How will you create long-term habits?
Habits are how you change your life. Whether you choose something that has a set time frame or you change your lifestyle to lose weight over the long term. The easiest way to do this is to automate as much as possible. Search Pinterest for “ your diet” meal plan, and scoop up all the recipes and shopping list in one go. Of course, you’ll want to make some modifications but having 80% of your meal prep done is a HUGE help. Other ways to automate things:
- Find restaurant meals that work within your rules so you have a fast option when needed.
- Always carry smart snacks with you for when you get hangry
- Choose a lunch or side plate to keep the portions sensible
- Don’t buy foods that tempt you! You can’t eat it if it’s not there to eat.
- Grocery pickup. Avoid temptation and mindless purchases, and you don’t have to get out of your car.
Eating is unavoidable. It can be a source of anxiety for a lot of people, and it can also be a great joy. When you want to kick the anxiety and embrace the joy ask yourself these six questions. They just might help you change your life.
Let me know your favourite healthy eating tip below! I always love to hear new ones.