Ever have those weeks (or, um, months?) where you just can't seem to get your diet on track? It feels like no matter what you do, or what your best intentions are, there's always something that's keeping you from really focusing on eating well.
Maybe your social calendar is packed right now. It's one weekend event after another, complete with junk food and alcohol.
Maybe it's a hectic work week, meaning you're eating out more than normal (or maybe dealing with the stress by snacking...) or you just don't have time to cook.
Maybe your diet always kind of comes and goes, and you're just having a hard time sticking to anything right now.
Maybe you're selling your house, so you're hardly cooking at all out of fear that the second you start chopping veggies, someone will call and want to see the house RIGHTTHATSECOND. (um, just me?)
No matter what the obstacles are, after a certain period of time you have to reel yourself back in.
The longer you let it go, the more you start to feel the effects of poor nutrition. Your energy levels might start to sink. Your body shape can start to change. Your quality sleep might be impacted. You experience changes in your digestion, your skin, your mental focus, and your overall feelings of health and wellbeing.
In short, nobody wins when you neglect your diet.
That said, I know firsthand how hard it can be to get back on track once you've let it go for a while. It can feel easier to just keep doing what you're doing instead of trying to fix it.
But I also know that usually the hardest part is just getting started. When your energy levels are low and your motivation is nowhere to be seen, the best thing you can do is push through that rough patch by making one positive change.
Today, commit to taking one small step to getting your nutrition back on track. Choose one of the items from my list or create your own. But start today.
10 Ways To Get Your Nutrition Back On Track Today
- Commit to one raw meal per day for a week. This might be a big veggie-heavy salad or a delicious smoothie (or something else entirely!). Regardless, it will help you focus on nutrient-dense foods in at least one meal.
- Eliminate alcohol from your diet for one week. Alcoholic drinks are often high in calories (and, even if they aren't, they frequently cause you to snack on food that are).
- Set a daily hydration goal and focus on meeting it every day. I usually recommend aiming for half your body weight in ounces (so if you weigh 150 lbs, try for about 75 ounces of water a day). If that amount of water seems impossible, just do your best and also remember to get in some water-dense produce to help you out (like leafy greens, watermelon, zucchini, cucumbers, etc.).
- Pack your lunch every day for a week. If you're someone who often eats out during the work day, this strategy can help you focus on eating well at the office (especially if you're often tempted by less healthy foods when you order out). It's great for your wallet, too!
- Keep a food journal. Spend a week writing down everything you eat. You can keep a notebook or Word document with this information, or use an app like My Fitness Pal to help you track what you're consuming. While I don't normally advocate calorie counting or constantly tracking food intake, this can can be a really helpful strategy to use for a week or two. You'll have more awareness about what you're eating and you'll see exactly what you need to shift in the future. Additionally, knowing that you'll have to write down what you eat sometimes motivates you to make better selections in the first place.
- Only eat meals at the table for a week. It can be easy to overeat when you're mindlessly snacking throughout the day or eating in front of the TV, at your desk, or in the car. Instead, set a goal to only eat meals at the the table. And once you're up from the table, you're done eating for that meal.
- Try a new way of eating for one week. Sometimes we need something different to motivate us to eat well. Spend a week trying a new way of eating. Make sure this dietary style is focused on whole foods (and, of course, isn't dangerous in anyway), but then enjoy playing with new recipes and meal plans. Go vegan for week. Or focus on eating only foods that are in season in your area. Or try eating paleo. Or only eat foods you've prepared yourself. Or cut out dairy. Whatever you decide, create a one week challenge for yourself and see how you feel eating this way.
- Only eat whole foods for snacks. If you tend to grab packaged granola bars or other snack foods between meals, this challenge will help you focus on nutritious whole foods instead. Prep a bunch of healthy snacks at the beginning of the week and only eat those if you find yourself hungry between meals.
- Measure your portions every time you eat for a week. It can be so easy to overeat when you're not paying attention to serving sizes. Read labels and use your hand as a guide every time you eat for a week. This will keep you from piling up your plate and eating mindlessly.
- Don't focus on nutrition. While any of the above suggestions will help you get back on track, for some people nutrition isn't the best starting point. You may do better by focusing on getting a different area of health on track first and then letting the food follow. I find that for many of my clients it can be easier to focus on exercise and then tackle food later. No matter what you choose, improving one area of your health often has a spill-over effect on other areas of your life. So commit to improving one aspect of your health now and let the food follow later if that works better for you.