So you want to get your diet back on track. You start well. In fact you have a great few days or weeks, but then… an old friend invites you to dinner… you’re going on holiday… another wedding invite arrives… you have a busy period at work. The list is endless isn’t it?
And you really, really want to get your diet sorted. You know how important it is and you desperately want to do it, but there just never seems to be the right time.
To be quite frank, if you’re waiting for a time when you’ll have no social commitments, be able to plan every meal, only eat at home, and not experience any stress or emotion (which is often the trigger for falling off the wagon), you’ll be waiting a very long time.
Because it’s not real!
All the little bumps life throws at you. They are real.
So, if you’re going to get healthy, you need to figure out how to do it alongside the dinner invitations, parties, stresses of work, family visits, holidays and everything else coming your way. And they will come your way, because that’s life!
Here are a few guiding principles I come back to time and time again with clients to help them stay on track when the going gets tough:
1. Follow the 80/ 20 rule
So many women I work with are perfectionists (I recognise it so easily because it’s me all over!) They start their healthy eating regime, and that’s exactly what it becomes, a regime. They’re all or nothing and must eat well 100% of the time, or in their eyes, they’ve failed. And when they fail, because as we’ve established, life will make sure they will, they either give up completely or feel the huge weight of guilt hanging over them.
By following the 80/ 20 rule - which means 80% of the time you eat a healthy whole foods diet, and 20% of the time you allow yourself a little slack – yes those bumps will still happen, but they also won’t feel like such a big deal. So you can simply acknowledge the piece of birthday cake you enjoyed, or take away you treated yourself to, and start fresh with your healthy eating the next day.
By allowing yourself to eat not so perfectly 20% of the time, the guilt will start to disappear, and you can actually enjoy those moments. Wouldn’t that be nice?!
I mean, what’s the point in eating healthily all of the time if you beat yourself up every time you have a slight slip up? That isn’t good for anyone.
2. Think ahead
By thinking ahead, you’re able to plan. And this little trick could get you out of a whole heap of trouble, and prevent that 20% turning into something much higher.
Think ahead: I’m going out for dinner
Action: Find out where you’re going, check the menu and choose your meal before you get there (and when you’re not hungry!). This will stop you from getting tempted when you arrive. If the menu’s hard to navigate, you could also call ahead and find out what ingredients go into certain meals. Tell them you’re on a special programme and can’t eat x, y or z. They’ll either give you some options as to what you can have, or may even offer to make you something off the menu.
Think ahead: I’m visiting my parents (which I know means 10 cups of teas served with chocolate hob knobs and cheese cake for dessert) – I hear this a lot!
Action: Phone them, let them know you’re prioritising your health right now so don’t want to be offered biscuits, and will bring a dessert you can eat (as can everyone else if they choose to).
Or, with both of these scenarios, you could just allow yourself a burger or a few biscuits, and enjoy it! You’re living by the 80/ 20 rule now, remember?
3. Aim for progression not perfection
As we all know, life isn’t perfect. Far from it! So our intentions of never touching bread again, or having a green smoothie every day simply aren’t realistic.
What is realistic, is taking small steps forward, and making them consistently. For you that could be reducing the 5 cans of coke you drink a day down to 2, or it could be making your own nut milk or bone broth. Wherever you are on your journey, if you’re making progress, you’re doing great.
This is perhaps the hardest one for us to remember, as we’re oh so very good at criticising ourselves for what we haven’t done, or what we should be doing.
So please, if you’re trying to get healthy, always remember where you’ve come from, and celebrate every win, no matter how big or small, because you deserve it.
Just remember, like any new skill, learning to do these will take practice. Don’t let one little bump in the road determine your path moving forwards.
You can do this!
Hi, I'm Abi, and I help busy, burnt out women make healthy living a way of life. Five years ago I was travelling all over the world running global corporate events, managing a large team, operating at a million miles an hour and fuelling myself with sugar, caffeine and carbs to get me through the day. I ate pretty well, cooked at home as much as I could, and when I ate out always chose the healthier option. But when I look back, knowing what I know now, most of my diet was made up of processed foods. They're so hard to get away from! Through my yoga practice, training with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and becoming a mum, I've learned how to nourish my body and mind with real, whole foods, and I love helping women just like you, learn how to do the same thing. To find out more about my signature 3-month programme, RESET, click here, or set up a time to speak with me directly.