By now, you may or may not have already experienced a few setbacks with your new healthy eating resolutions. Eventually, it happens, and it takes resolve and a mindset that is self-loving and self-forgiving to get back on track and keep going until you change your brain chemistry. New habits are formed when you are making the healthy choice 80% of the time and learning how to “cheat smart” when you are faced with certain food choices and challenges the rest of the time
Let’s face it, unless you’re a hermit, making healthy lifestyle changes for weight loss and weight control is not easy. If you are out living your life, you are constantly being bombarded with challenges related to unhealthy eating such as stress, work lunches, social engagements, etc… If you were previously eating a standard American diet, unfortunately, there is a neurochemical reward center in the brain that overrides normal willpower and hunger levels causing you to be biologically wired to crave the processed foods, salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats you’ve been used to!.
So if cheating is something that has to happen, here are 5 smart ways to do it right.
- Alcohol is full of sugar which feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks are the worst. If you are at a restaurant or bar, stick to tequila or vodka (organic if they have it) on the rocks with a splash of soda water and a twist of lemon or lime. If you are going to a party, buy and bring your own low sugar, low sulfite organic wine. The market has picked up on our desire to imbibe healthier and there are several good options available. My new favorite is a sparkling wine called Social.
- Desserts and Sweets. It’s not really right to completely deprive yourself of a sweet treat, just make it a smart choice. If you have time to make your own, you will have control over the ingredients and how healthy the treat is. If you want chocolate, look for over seventy-five percent cacao, organic or non-gmo ingredients, no soy lecithin, and sugar as one of the last ingredients. My favorite chocolate treat is an 85% Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate bar. A small piece is often enough to satisfy a sweet craving. Another quick, simple way to satisfy a sweet craving is to make a healthy chocolate or fruit smoothie. I have included some smoothie recipes in my free Whole Person Detox Challenge.
- Stress eating is a thing! According to a Harvard Mental Health Article published in 2012, “Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies — granted, many of them in animals — have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a “hunger hormone,” may have a role. Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that inhibits activity in the parts of the brain that produce and process stress and related emotions. These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods”
So it makes sense that to reduce the cravings due to stress, you need to reduce the chronic stress in your life. There are many ways to do this, but by far my favorite is using a method called Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT). You simply tap on energy meridian end points while directing your thoughts and words on the stress. This signals the brain to release chemicals to reduce the stress. You can learn more here.
- Comfort Foods. Speaking of comfort foods, there are times and situations that just call for them! If you are craving pizza or ice-cream, always first note the feeling that is triggering it. If you are not really hungry and can do something to satisfy the feeling, do that. But if you just really want pizza or ice cream for no other reason than you just want them, don’t deprive yourself. “Cheat” by setting a day and time to make your own healthy version and enjoy!
- Eating Out. The first thing you might want to do is get online and check out the menu and choose before you go. It helps if you are not hungry when you do this, then when you get to the restaurant and you are hungry, you will be more likely to stick to the better choice. Unless you are at an organic restaurant, it won’t be easy to make a healthy choice as most foods will be laden with unhealthy fats and food additives. Choosing a simple meal of a veggie, a meat or fish (grass fed or wild caught if possible) and a healthy fat such as avocado, almond, extra virgin olive or coconut oil is your best bet. Then get back on track with your new healthy eating resolutions with your very next meal and let it go.
- Let It Go! The absolute worst thing you can do is hang on to any guilt, shame or stress due to getting off track! These emotions are worse for your health than a bit of processed food now and then. Be loving and forgiving with yourself. Take a few deep breaths, let go and move forward! If you need extra help with your new healthy eating choices, or any other midlife changes you are trying to make, reach out to me for a free coaching consultation (just email me the changes you want to make) or sign up for my 12 week Midlife Mastery Body-Mind-Spirit Transformation Program.
Debra Betterly, PhD is an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach and Metaphysician whose passion is to help women expand their health, joy and purpose in midlife and beyond.
You can join her free Midlife Mastery “Inner Circle” and receive your free gifts HERE
Her free “10 Day Whole Person Detox Challenge” is offered as a body, mind, Spirit approach to holistic health. Learn more HERE