Have you ever tried to overhaul your diet over night? You know..go from eating out 10 times a week to trying to eat salads for every meal (maybe not that dramatic..but you get my point)? This was a common practice for me prior to losing weight, I tried to dramatically and drastically shift my diet over night. And…it never worked (of course) and always ended in a binge.
Through that experience, I learned what actually works when it comes to eating healthy. Full disclosure, I’m by NO means a health freak. At all. I lost my weight by practicing moderation and being kind to myself so I could learn from my mistakes when I slipped back into my old pattern of bingeing. I have had certain times in my life where I have eaten healthier than others, but I am by no means perfect when it comes to what I eat. It’s still something I’m working on.
With that said, what has worked best for me is taking food off a pedestal and allowing myself to eat whatever I want as long as I am present and fully focused on eating it. If you’re anything like I used to be and struggle around trusting yourself with food, this might scare you a little. You might be starting to think, “ohhh no, Lauren…you don’t know me…if I don’t limit what I eat…I’ll go crazy and eat everything in sight. I don’t have willpower around food.” That was my same exact reaction too. What’s ironic is that mentality is actually what caused me to eat everything in sight!
You see, when we say “NO (insert really yummy and ‘bad’ for you food here),” our brain literally craves it more. By eliminating the foods we enjoy because they are “bad”, we are putting those foods on a pedestal (thus causing us to crave them more). It’s the equivalent to telling yourself not to look at the elephant in the room. You just won’t be able to help yourself.
So what do you do? You crowd the “bad” foods out with good foods (note: I’m labeling foods as “bad” and “good” for the purpose of this article…I don’t believe in “bad” or “good” foods though). By focusing on what you are adding to your plate, you naturally leave less room for what you want to eliminate. You also don’t feel deprived because you aren’t focused on what you can’t have…you’re focused on what you can.
Another thing that I have started doing that really helps me is adding healthy sides to my meal and choosing eat them first. So let’s say you LOVE mac and cheese and decide that you want to have it. Instead of giving yourself a guilt trip over eating something that is “bad” for you…you decide you are going to make a few healthy sides to go along with your mac and cheese.
Normally, you may eat your food really quickly because you are so hungry and perhaps debated for awhile whether or not you should eat the “bad” food at all. This time, you’re choosing to add a couple healthy sides (whatever healthy means for you at this point in time) to your mac and cheese meal. As a result, you get to satisfy your craving for mac and cheese (which will lessen the chances of you having a binge later)…while simultaneously eating less of it because you crowded your meal out with some healthy alternatives.
Also, don’t forget to drink your water before eating (and all throughout the day)! Often our brain mistakes thirst for hunger. Drinking your water keeps you from overeating (along with many other benefits, of course!) by satisfying your thirst so it doesn’t falsely trigger your brain to send you a message that you’re hungry.
These tips may sound simple…but I swear, they have made such a difference in my life. Now it’s your turn…which of your favorite foods are you going to create a healthier meal out of?
P.S. I’m off to a guilt-free Taco Tuesday (a weekly tradition around here)…wishing for you a guilt-free yummy meal tonight too :)
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