How to keep food off your mind and your hips
By Bonnie Pfiester
Keep It Simple Stupid
In my experience, people don’t have trouble going on a diet – they have trouble sticking to it. Unlike many other things in life, food is not something you can really avoid. Ironically, the more we try to avoid it, the more obsessed we can become if we are not careful.
The root of the problem is not our stomach. The problem starts in our mind. We “allow” our thoughts to explore territory our mouths should never go. When the mind goes in the kitchen, the body tends to follow. Instead of thinking about our training and our goals, we are scheming up ways to create “healthy” dishes so we don’t feel so deprived – but are we really deprived? When did grilled chicken and asparagus become a bad thing? When did we start valuing the taste of food more than our own health and appearance?
Let’s put things in to perspective for a moment. Do you really want to taste pizza more than you want to feel good? Do you want the freedom to eat what you want more than the freedom to wear what you want? Do you care more about enjoying food more than enjoying a long healthy life?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you are ready to make some healthy changes. But, before you can transform your body, you have to transform your mind. Here are a few tips to help keep food off your mind – and your hips!
8 Practical Diet Tips to Help You Stay On Track
- Stick to a routine. Keep your menu simple and don’t be afraid of repetition. The less you have to think about what to eat, the easier it is to stick to your diet. The more you have to choose from, the more you’ll be tempted to think about what you want to taste, instead of you’re your body needs.
- Avoid restaurant menus.Should an alcoholic spend time looking through the drink menu? So why should a dieter spend time shopping a menu with pictures of food they are trying to avoid? All it does is open the windows of our hungry mind. If you are tempted by tantalizing food descriptions and photos, make your decision ahead of time or have loved one look at the menu for you.
- Create house rules. Boundaries help keep the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out. Applying simple rules when preparing meals can prevent you from straying from your plan. For instance, one of our rules for our house is to only cook one green vegetable to go with our meat for dinner. We save higher-calorie carbs, like rice, grains, oats and potatoes for breakfast and lunch. These are very simple rules, but they prevent us from cooking higher-calorie sides at a time of day when we tend to eat more and do less.
- Never shop when you are hungry. We’ve all gone grocery shopping for one thing and came out with 20 things we didn’t need simply because we were shopping while starving. If you want to shop healthy, it is important your stomach is full and your mind is clear – because a hungry tummy causes us to do dumb things.
- Cook on a full stomach.We cook a good bulk of our food on Sundays after we eat lunch. When meals are made in advance, all you have to do is heat them up when you get hungry. If you wait to cook when you are hungry, you are more likely to focus on what you want to taste, rather than what you need to eat. As a result, you may whip up something higher in calories because you are thinking with your stomach, and not your healthy mind. Plus, you will probably do a lot more tasting while cooking too. Either way you look at it, cooking when hungry is a recipe for disaster.
- Rely primarily on whole foods. I love making turkey meatloaf and yummy recipes, but Steve has a hard time controlling himself around them. So, 75% of our meals are based on whole foods, or single ingredient-meals (like a meat and a vegetable). Only 25% are multi-ingredient dishes (like casseroles or soups). This gives us just enough variety without sabotaging our diet.
- Be patient when cooking.Rely on seasonings and slow cooking (like a crock pot or roaster) to boost flavor instead of sauces and other added ingredients. Many times we add more calories than necessary simply because we cook too fast and don’t allow seasonings to be absorbed in the food.
- Know what you can and cannot handle.No matter how motivated someone is in the morning, that motivation can be forgotten by the time you are standing in the pantry staring at the nuts at night. If you can’t handle having certain snacks or foods in the house, don’t let them past your front door. Sometimes it’s best to go without than to try to practice self-control (and fail over and over). Remember, the only way you will be successful is to be honest with yourself. Some people are super disciplined and some people aren’t. Be honest and set goals accordingly.