This is a follow on post from my "Make it a Lifestyle not a Diet" post. If you haven't read that give it a read first before continuing on reading this post. Read it here.
MY 6 TOP TIPS TO MAKE IT A LIFESTYLE NOT A DIET
1. Portion Control – be more aware of the amount of foods you are eating, weigh out a typical portion of cereal, potatoes, rice and see for yourself the nutritional value. It may seem obvious that a larger portion has more calories but many people are unaware just how many more calories a large portion contains.
2. Don’t ignore your cravings – we all get them, there isn’t a person in world who doesn’t get them. I’m always craving chocolate but does that mean that I eat a whole bar of Dairy Milk everyday – no. But when the craving gets to be overwhelming I will give into it and have some chocolate. It may not be the healthiest food but I’m not going to ban it completely from my diet. Why you may ask – because then it will really be the only thing I want to eat and there will be too much focus on what I can’t eat rather than what I can. I say the same thing to clients when they ask can I eat this, can I eat that - there is NO LIST OF BANNED FOODS. If you restrict foods completely from your diet unless for genuine medical reasons – it will just take over your mind and become your sole focus. Focus on the delicious foods you are eating and do enjoy that give you the fuel for your workouts and help you to achieve your goals. Allow treat foods such as chocolate, ice cream, pizza, take aways etc. in moderation instead of bingeing on them in secret at night and hiding the packets from your partner, friends or family. Really enjoy them when you eat them and don't attach any guilt to them - they should be enjoyed and not an ounce of guilt should be felt. If there is guilt - there are still negative connotations attached to those foods which you need to change in your mindset, you need to know that it is ok to eat these foods in moderation and it is ok to enjoy them.
3. Think positive – If you are constantly dwelling on the foods you can’t eat then of course you’re going to be miserable and give up but if you focus on all the delicious healthy food that you are eating, then you are more likely to stick with the lifestyle change. There are no foods off limits, no restaurants off limits – there is always a healthy option available that will still be delicious and satisfying. For example if you’re going to a Chinese restaurant, instead of dwelling on the fact that you shouldn’t eat the spring rolls and deep fried sweet and sour chicken with fried rice, think instead of what you can eat – boiled/steamed rice with stir fried prawns/chicken and veggies. It is about making small adjustments and not totally cutting out foods or social situations.
4. Keep a food diary – this is the best way of keeping an eye on how much you eat, what you eat and why you eat those foods and how they make you feel. People who keep food diaries are generally more conscious of the mistakes they make and so are able to make the changes necessary to correct those mistakes. Food diaries help you understand your eating patterns, both good and bad. If you realise you are constantly nibbling when you get home from work – identify this as a bad habit and you can then find a substitute for this bad habit. For example having a snack before you leave work, or planning that you will have a snack when you get home, eating your dinner a bit earlier and then having another snack before bed are all solutions for this bad habit.
5. Eating planned meals and snacks – a big advantage of doing this is that you are less likely to feel starving and then nibble or pick between meals. When we are hungry we tend to just grab whatever is quick and available, which can lead to grabbing junk food. Keeping healthy foods within reach is important, keep healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, and fruit in your car, your desk, handbag – wherever you feel you may be put in a situation whereby you could be tempted to reach for the junk food.
6. Exercise – find whatever form of exercise you enjoy whether that is going for a walk with your dog, zumba, spinning, lifting weights, playing GAA – just make sure that you love it and enjoy it. If you enjoy something it will be much easier to stick with it as it won’t even feel like effort. Taking small steps to just increase your daily movement will help – take the stairs at work, get off the bus a stop earlier, or even just park further away when you’re doing your shopping. All the little things add up to. The key is to find something you can stick with for the long haul.