There are countless challenges and roadblocks which can derail us from our efforts to follow a healthy meal plan, especially when we are faced with the indulgent foods that emerge during the holidays. Whether you are a seasoned competitor who is accustomed to following a strict meal plan, someone who wants to adopt healthier eating habits, or battling excess body weight, it can be very difficult to pass up regular restaurant meals, fast foods, and holiday treats. However, it IS possible to stay on track even in the face of such temptations.
The first and most important thing is to remember your GOAL, whether it is improved health, weight loss, or getting into contest shape for an upcoming event. Your goal should serve as a tangible mark which you are aiming for. I always tell my patients and weight management clients to post images of people who possess the type of physique they covet in a prominent place (such as a refrigerator) so that they can be reminded of their specific goal.
Here are other effective strategies to help you follow a healthy meal plan:
1. Keep forbidden foods out of the kitchen so that the temptation to eat something unhealthy is removed. This means that you need to avoid purchasing chips, crackers, cookies, ice cream, packaged pasta dinners and whatever other unhealthy foods you tend to gravitate towards. If unhealthy foods are not in your kitchen cupboards, you won’t be tempted to grab them and indulge.
2. Prep your meals at home beforehand. Meal prep can be tedious but it is well worth it when you consider the control you will have over what goes into your body. You can control ingredients, cooking method and portion sizes and maximize your chances of maintaining healthy eating habits. Once you have prepared your food, you can store single serving sizes in individual storage containers which are easy to pack when you need them.
3. Invest in a great food cooler bag. Trust me, you NEED one of these!
4. Make sure your meal plan is balanced. The best meal plans have lean protein, healthy fats and slow digesting carbohydrates. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that all fat is bad! You need certain healthy fats to maintain normal cellular function.
5. Avoid fast food restaurants. Fast food restaurants (and most restaurants for that matter) feature extremely unhealthy options which can completely destroy your efforts at reaching your health and fitness goals. You will also save a ton of money by avoiding the calorie and saturated fat laden options found at such establishments.
6. Don’t cave in to peer pressure. I don’t know what it is about friends and family, but it seems like they get some twisted thrill out of convincing others to eat forbidden foods. If you find yourself in such a situation, you need to ask yourself if it is worth unraveling your healthy eating habits in order to appease a relative or buddy. I have heard, “Awww, come on, a couple of bites won’t hurt ya!” from people who usually mean well but who are unaware of the psychological torture they might be putting me through. I honestly don’t want to be pressured into consuming something that will make me feel guilty or will not digest well . It isn’t worth it!