The holidays will soon be upon us, and that can wreak havoc on our diet and eating habits! Have you ever decided to eat healthier —“This year is going to be different”? A typical scenario might look something like this: You know you need to watch your diet and weight. You choose a super-strict regimen which then takes all the pleasure out of eating. This forces you to avoid social opportunities because you know you’ll blow it. How well does that work? Probably not very well.
“Weight management really should be about focusing on eating healthy foods that you like, rather than trying to stay away from foods that you like,” says Katie Rickel, PhD, a clinical psychologist and weight-loss expert in Durham, North Carolina. A diet that will work must contain both foods that are healthy for us and foods that we enjoy eating. The secret is knowing when you can indulge, and when it is time to stop.1
Steps to Help You Eat Healthier
- Rather than choosing a rigid diet that is focusing on the foods you cannot eat, instead focus on the foods that you will According to Vanessa Patrick, PhD (University of Houston), “’I can’t’ signals deprivation, which makes you more likely to cave, whereas ‘I don’t’ signals determination and empowerment, making your refusal more effective.”
- You need guidelines, but allow flexibility within those guidelines. Don’t be too specific, as in “I’m going to eat 3 oz. of Brussels sprouts every night.” Instead think of what those foods have—antioxidants, vitamins, etc. What else also has those same nutrients that your body needs?
- Only eat at meal times or at planned snack times.
- Forgive yourself when you slip.
- If your foods of choice are not available, find the closest substitute that will fill you up–and enjoy the meal.
This all boils down to the fact that what we think about our food may be just as important to weight loss as what we actually eat in the long run. Have you found ideas that help you in your weight loss journey that will help you to eat healthier? We’d love for you to share them with us!
1 The idea of eating healthy without obsessing over it comes from the book 20 Pounds Younger by Michele Promaulayko with Laura Tedesco, Rodale, 2015.