Today I’m sharing some tips on how to eat healthy consistently.
With all of the New Year’s resolutions that are made at the beginning of the year, it can sometimes be tough to keep that motivation going throughout the year. Today I thought I’d share a few tips to eat healthy over time. It can be easy to do when you have lots of motivation, but harder to do with you’re faced with temptation.
The 80/20 rule
I think it’s important to start off by saying that no one (and I mean no one) is able to eat perfectly all the time. To be honest, it sounds kind of miserable to never have a treat when celebrating something, or allowing yourself to order take out when you’re tired and have zero motivation to cook. Life is all about making memories and having fun, which means that it’s okay to treat yourself.
I find that when I’m making healthy decisions for myself 80% of the time, I can allow myself to splurge 20% of the time. By making healthy decisions the majority of the time I can eat things that are less healthy without guilt.
I’m sure everyone has tried to “eat perfectly” without “messing up”. And we’ve all failed at it. It’s impossible to make healthy decisions 100% of the time. Celebrating a birthday or going out for dinner is going to happen. Allowing yourself the grace to embrace those occasions and not feel guilty about them allows you to eat the slice of cake or drink the beer and then go back to making healthy choices. Having the mindset that a couple cookies or an indulgent meal isn’t going to “ruin” your diet allows you to enjoy it and then move on.
Planning ahead and knowing yourself will really be helpful in eating healthy long term. If you know that you get hungry mid afternoon at work, make sure you have some healthy snacks available to avoid the chocolate bars in the vending machines. If you have a long day at work on Thursday, make extra for dinner on Wednesday night so all you have to do is heat them up on Thursday so that you’re less tempted to stop and pick up food on the way home.
Spending 15 or 20 minutes at the beginning of the week looking at my calendar and planning out what I’ll be eating throughout the week has been really helpful. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming.
Speaking of being prepared and planning ahead, I’ve found that meal planning has been a really good way for me to make the healthiest choices that I can. Here are a few of my meal planning posts: Top 5 meal planning tips, How I Simplify Meal Planning, and 6 Benefits of Meal Planning.
When I know that I have the ingredients in my kitchen to prepare a few different meals, I’m much more likely to cook at home than I am otherwise. Going home to find a recipe, go to the grocery store to get ingredients, and then going back home to cook after working all day isn’t likely to happen. But if all it takes to eat a healthy meal is to cook it because I already have all the ingredients, it’s a lot less effort.
I find that it’s easy to build on healthy decisions if I’m already making them in other parts of my life. If I workout a couple times per week, it’s easier to pick the side salad over the fries when I’m eating out. If I’m spending time and effort to be healthy in one part of my life, it’ll spill over into other parts of my life too, like eating.
I’m also more likely to make healthier decisions with my food when I’m getting enough sleep, spending some time each day for myself, and writing in my gratitude journal regularly. All of those little decisions build on each other and they become easier over time.
I typically workout first thing in the morning and it’s such a great way to start off my day on a positive note, doing something good for myself. It sets the tone for the day that it’s worth the effort to be healthy and make smart decisions throughout the day.
Don’t get discouraged
It’s so easy to let one less than perfect decision lead to a whole day’s worth of unhealthy decisions. If you forgot your packed lunch at home, that doesn’t mean that you have to go get fast food. You can still make a healthier decision than a burger and fries.
Enjoying one or two more alcoholic beverages than you had anticipated at a barbecue with friends doesn’t mean that you have to go crazy eating all the treats that are available. You can still choose to get seconds of the salad or veggies instead of the chips.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the “I’ve messed up so I might as well give up” mindset, but that doesn’t get you any closer to your goals. It’s definitely taken a lot of practice, but I’m slowly but surely getting better at not letting one or two imperfect decisions ruin the entire day. Getting back on track as soon as possible and not allowing those decisions to dictate the rest of my day has been such an important part of healthy eating. It’s so easy to be hard on myself and feel like I’ve messed up. But giving myself grace and forgiving myself and moving on instead of dwelling on it has been huge for me.
What are some of your tips for eating healthy consistently? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.