One of the biggest methods I’ve used to stay on track with diet, is planning ahead when it comes to moments of weakness!!!
Notice I didn’t just say planning. Planning what you are going to eat when you’re feeling good and positive on a Sunday night is fine. But unfortunately life just isn’t that rosy, and when shit hits the fan all that ‘planning’ goes out the window!
So planning ahead with your food is definitely a good start, but when your day goes tits up, and you want to order a pizza, THAT’s the challenge right there. That’s what I want to talk about.
Going back to work or back to school can bring new challenges and more stress, but now the problem is you are stuck in your old bad habits again. They are really hard to break.
In fact, no I correct myself. They are hard to break LONG TERM.
We all know those moments when we fall off the diet wagon. We all have a regular time when we feel weak (or cave).
THE SECRET IS TO KNOW AHEAD OF TIME WHEN YOUR WEAK MOMENTS ARE, AND FIND SOMETHING TO REPLACE THEM.
That Friday night G&T, a Saturday pizza, eating chocolate in the afternoon to get over the 2pm energy slump, finishing off the kids’ fish fingers, or snacking in front of the TV. You know the sort of stuff I mean – the occasions that come up regularly that you know are stopping you from getting results. The occasions in life that make it feel impossible to stay on track with your diet!
Habits Can be Good and Bad
The great thing about us humans is that we are creatures of habit, so it makes us kind of predictable. The downside is that habits are tough to break – but not impossible!
Identifying what these moments of weakness are can be one of your greatest tools when it comes to remaining consistent with your diet.
If you can recognise in advance when you are going to feel really really tempted and have a potential moment of weakness, you can plan to overcome it by REPLACING IT with another more positive habit.
Common reasons us ladies often have include:-
CHALLENGE: “I always forget to defrost chicken before I left for work”
SOLUTION: Cook a couple of chicken breasts every Sunday night).
CHALLENGE: “The fridge wasn’t stocked well, so I couldn’t work out what to make, so we just had a takeaway”
SOLUTION: Make stocking your fridge a priority ahead of every week
CHALLENGE: “I’ve had a bad day, couldn’t be bothered, so ordered a takeaway.” (
SOLUTION: Ask yourself is this going to make me feel better about myself or worse? How proud will I feel of myself if I eat healthily tonight? OR Ask your partner to cook on evenings when you are drained, and you put your feet up for 5 minutes.
CHALLENGE: “I was tired and couldn’t be bothered to cook (or think of what to cook!)”
SOLUTION: Meal planning ahead for the week, and ensuring you have the ingredients handy. Also make a batch of healthy soup, stew or casserole on a Sunday so you always have ’emergency meals’ you can defrost or have in the fridge.
CHALLENGE: “Lunch never happened because I was busy, then I was starving hungry so picked up fish and chips on the way home”
SOLUTION: Make your healthy lunch and snacks every night for the next day as part of a daily routine. Just focus on how good you feel if you get through the week having had a positive breakfast and healthy lunch. Winning!
CHALLENGE: “After I picked at the kids’ leftovers I wasn’t really hungry for dinner. Then I snacked in front of the TV later on”
SOLUTION: Get in to the habit for now of making much smaller portions for your kids, and immediately throwing it in the bin if they leave it. We tend to over face our kids a lot and that’s why they leave it.
CHALLENGE: “I’d had a stressful day and wanted to unwind with a glass of wine”
SOLUTION: Realise that alcohol is a stimulant. It does not relax you. It is physcially impossible for alcohol to relax you. It makes you drunk and sleepy. This does not help energy levels or stress. The ritual and the idea of indulging yourself relaxes you. Replace booze with a brisk walk, a massage, an early night and a magazine, a luxurious bath soak, some yoga or an exercise class / video. Start reading The Sober Diaries or The Naked Mind. You’ll soon come to realise that it’s not the wine that soothes you, but the ritual. Rituals are great as you can replace them with something else to boost your energy and mood.
CHALLENGE: “My kids won’t eat anything I cook so I don’t know why I bother to cook. I’m getting a takeaway.” Read my post on Picky Eaters if you are having major issues.
SOLUTION: Do them a sandwich and for once, treat yourself to a takeaway – enjoy it, and then get back on the wagon. Sometimes kids stress us out. We’re not aiming for PERFECT here (read my post on why I ditched ‘perfection’ when it came to dieting, and got better results) – we’re aiming for improvement on the week before. Lets face it we deserve a treat now and again – and when you’ve had one of those days, sometimes it’s ok to give yourself grace and say -“I deserve this and I’m going to enjoy it GUILT FREE.)”
Ways to get ahead of the game: –
RUN THE WEEK
Make sure you run the week. Don’t let the week run you! Plan your meals in advance every Saturday / Sunday. Look through your healthy recipe books and plan each evening meal.
Doing this process every weekend really gets you in to a positive mindset – you’re taking control! This week will be a winner – you will succeed! You will therefore be less tempted to put loads of rubbish in to your shopping basket that will bring on moments of weakness later.
As you go through the recipes write down what you will need for each meal. Some recipes will require the same ingredients which makes life a lot simpler. If you’re eating relatively cleanly (making things from scratch which is what I highly recommend) you’ll realise that to follow a healthy and varied diet isn’t that hard at all. You just buy fresh protein, fresh veg, fruit, herbs and spices, fat free greek yoghurt, coconut oil and maybe some other bits and bobs along the way. The rest are cupboard staples like brown rice, straight to wok noodles, a bit of pasta, sweet potatoes and quinoa but you won’t have to buy these every week.
CHECK YOUR CUPBOARDS
Cross reference your ‘shopping list’ with what you already have in the fridge and cupboards, and just double check that everything will be in date, and that you have enough.
If you have any foods that may need using up, maybe rearrange your meal plan so those foods get used up early on in the week.
Also think about your diary – what do you have on this week? Do you have any meals out with work or friends? A parent’s evening at school? Workouts booked in the diary? All of these components should be considered. For example, if you know you get in late every Tuesday from work, then make sure dinner is something fast (if not pre-prepared! e.g. prepare a clean cottage pie and freeze it in portions to lift out in the morning)
If you’re going to be working out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, plan some good complex carbs in to your meal plan with good quality protein and veggies. On the days that you’re not training so much, reduce your carb intake, and up the proteins and good fats for example.
If you know you’re eating out, take a look at the menu in advance and try to decide what you will have to eat and drink. Alternatively totally let your hair down, give yourself permission to have whatever you want and ENJOY EVERY MOUTHFUL 🙂 As long as you’re in control you’ll feel good about it. It’s usually only when we promise ourselves we’ll do one thing, then we do another, that we feel frustrated.
Order your shop online for Sunday evening at the latest so you are all set for the week. If I know one thing for sure, it’s that if Monday starts off on a bad note when it comes to a woman’s diet, she then usually waits until ‘next Monday’ to make positive changes. So make Mondays really count!
PREP LIKE A WOMAN POSSESSED
Do some food prep on the Sunday evening when cooking your evening meal. Prep some salads for lunches, chop up and portion some fruit and nuts for snacks, boil some eggs to keep as healthy snacks, and I always cook some chicken and salmon in the oven so I know at the very worst, I have some nice healthy protein I can eat if my week goes sideways. If you can, batch cook some dinners you can freeze and lift out in the week. This is ideal for busy women whose moments of weakness come after a long, tiring day when the last thing they want to do is cook. A bit of well-spent time on Sunday will keep you on track.
Commit to your plan. Have your meal plan up on the wall, and tell your partner if you live with someone. That way, hopefully they can help keep you track too.
NOTE FOR MUMMIES OF PICKY EATERS
Mums tell me that they can’t stick to a diet because their kids are picky eaters. They have many temptations and moments of weakness because they’re cooking yummy kids teas every night (and eating the leftovers!) I totally understand this, having a very fussy 3 year old who won’t eat protein (knowingly) and insists on pasta, and a loud, opinionated 2 year old with a sweet tooth!
If you have little ones (fussy little ones, like I do!), plan their meals as well, and make sure they coincide with yours as much as possible. For example, everyone in our house likes Spag Bol, so that’s an easy one. It’s also one I can cook in volume and freeze. Happy days. If 3 out of the 4 people in our household will eat it, it’s a good choice that often re-occurs on our weekly menu.
However us grown ups like a bit of variety.
Stir fry for example is something the kids will not eat, however. Some kids food experts say cook the same thing for everyone, and let them go hungry if they don’t eat. That’s all well and good, if you don’t value your sanity or sleep. Hungry kids in our house get angry and don’t sleep well. We work around this a little, in a way that works towards expanding their diet.
I’ll use the same chopped veg and meat, and make a vegetable and meat tomato sauce for them, and a stir fry sauce for us. The girls then have their sauce and we have ours. I leave some of ours for them to try. Then one of them will eat rice like we have with our stir fry, the other one will have pasta!
Still annoying, but in our house, it means chopping veg and meat for everyone once. Cooking rice for 3. Doing a batch of kids sauce which I then keep for another of their dinners in the week. And some separate pasta for our eldest who won’t eat rice yet. However she still gets rice on her plate so she gets used to having it there. Eventually she’ll try it…. It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have to work with, and it’s ok by me. As long as they keep improving the variety they eat, I’m a happy mama.