Food is a tricky thing. It consumes us while we consume it. I have had issues with binge eating and experiencing immense guilt when I ate poorly. My life circulated around food and I hated it. I felt like I had no control, like I was a slave to food. After much trial and error, I’ve been able to take control of my diet and enjoy food. I hope to help you do the same.
Here are things I did to help me gain control of my eating habits:
- Cut down on high calorie and sugary beverages and added more water
- Made me favorite meals healthier
- Added veggies into my food
- Ate often
- Meal planned
- Meal prepped
- Listened to my body and developed a good relationship with food
I know these things are easier said than done, but taking control of what you eat changes everything. I notice a significant difference in how I feel when I eat less sugar, get more veggies and drink my water. My skin is smoother and brighter, I have more energy and I don’t get bloated and lethargic.
As you work on you eating lifestyle, remember, food is your friend, not the enemy and all food is okay to eat.
Now, let’s get on to the good stuff; the 7 steps to better eating habits.
1. Decrease high calorie and sugary drinks, increase water intake.
I know you’ve heard this one a million times, but this is too important for me to not mention. Those sodas you drink have SO MANY calories and are down right bad for you. One every now and again is okay, the problem comes in when you’re drinking 3 or 4 a day.
To remedy this, gradually decrease the amount you drink and replace it with a better option. If you’re not a big water person, try sparkling or flavored water! Like I said, you don’t have to cut them out completely, just be careful to not over do it.
2. Make your favorite meals healthier.
This is a fun one. Look at your current favorite meals and get creative! Look for ways to make your favorite dishes as healthy as you can. For example: If you love burgers, use whole wheat buns, less mayo, and make the patties from a lean meat (like turkey). You could also make your own fries! Simply cut a potato (preferably gold potatoes) into whatever fry shape you like, put them in a mixing bowl, add enough olive oil in to coat the potatoes, then shake in your favorite seasons (I use kosher salt and black pepper with a touch of garlic and onion powder). Lay the fries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake on 425℉ for about 40 minutes, the time may vary depending on how thin you cut them). You can still enjoy your favorite foods, just make them yourself and add a healthy twist!
3. Sneak veggies into your food.
This one goes hand in hand with number 2. As you’re cooking, look for ways to add vegetables into your meal. Going back to the burger example, if you’re making it yourself, you can add finely chopped mushrooms into the meat and you wouldn’t even know! You can also add more veggies as toppings; you’ve got the basics, tomato, lettuce, onion, but you could also do spinach (this is a little more nutrients than lettuce), sliced bell pepper, mushrooms, various fresh herbs, or simply make it a black bean burger! Just have fun with it and don’t be afraid to try new things.
4. Eat often.
There are many ways to lay out your meals during the day, some eat two to three times a day while others, like myself, eat four to six times a day. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what works best for you. However, I found eating more often helped me control my appetite and prevented binge eating. You’ll want to choose better quality foods instead of foods with empty calories (foods that offer no nutritional value like Cheese Its). Ideally you’d eat three main meals with two or three snacks in between. This is where the next two steps will really come in handy.
5. Meal plan.
When you meal plan, it’s best to have your schedule for the week next to you. Look at your schedule to know how much time you have for lunch then plan accordingly. If you won’t have must time to eat, plan an easy meal to throw down or if you’re getting home late from work, plan a meal with little effort. Meal planning, along with weekly meal prep) helps me to stay on track no matter how busy I get during the week. For best results, plan for breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and desserts. This gives you a clear guide for the week and helps with decision fatigue (yes, that’s a real thing) leaving you with more brain power to focus on other things!
6. Meal prep.
Meal prep is an absolute life saver! For those who may not know, meal prepping is when you pre-cook multiple meals for the days ahead. I often bulk cook chicken and rice then eat those and some veggies for lunch. Once you meal plan, you can cook as much ahead as you care to. This is great for anyone with a busy schedule or eats lunch at work! It takes about two or three hours, which is nothing compared to the time it takes to cook your lunches everyday. Not a bad trade-off if you ask me. Not to mention the amount of money you save from not eating out as much!
Meal planning and prep help saves you so much time and money it’s doesn’t make sense to not do it! Plus, you always have food on hand and gives your day structure!
7. Listen to your body and develop a good relationship with food.
This one takes practice. When you are full, stop eating and when you are hungry, eat. Know that ALL food is ‘safe’ to eat, just eat in moderation and with control. When you are eating, try to focus on just that; what does the food taste like and how does it make you feel? Practice mindful eating habits to make the food more satisfying.
Lastly, don’t let food control you. Use self-control; YOU choose when and what you eat, not the food. However, if you overeat, it’s okay, don’t dwell on it, just move on and take this journey one step at a time. You are the boss.
I hope this process helps you as much as it helped me. Creating a healthy relationship with food is a daily choice and some days will be harder than others. Regardless of what happens, guilt should never be associated with food. Don’t beat yourself up or punish yourself because you had an extra ice-cream cone after dinner. Just live in the moment and make sure you get your vegetables and water everyday.
Just keep going.