HOW TO GET BACK ON TRACK | 5 Healthy Diet Tips + Tricks
How to Get Back to Healthy Eating After Overindulging
Indulging once in awhile is completely healthy and normal — especially around holidays or special occasions. Generally, one day or even a few days of overindulgence will most likely not set you too far off track. But many times, overindulging can also cause feelings of guilt, failure or frustration. This can make returning to your regular routine more difficult. Slowly restarting with parts of your normal, regular routine over a few days or weeks can make the transition easier and less stressful for you.
Restarting Your Healthy Routines
Avoid the "give up" attitude.Many times, it's easy to throw in the towel after a few unhealthy meals or days of eating. You may think you've "ruined" your day by an unhealthy meal, but that doesn't mean you can't make positive choices the rest of the day!
- Everyone makes mistakes or gives into temptations — that's a normal part of being a human being. But if you're trying to eat healthy or lose weight, a few slips are OK. Don't give up just because you indulged more than usual.
- If you've slipped up try to immediately think of the next healthy choice or lifestyle behavior you can make.
Forgive yourself.Overeating or overindulging — especially over a few days — can make you feel really guilty or like you've failed your healthy eating plan. But that's not true. You haven't failed anything and there's nothing to feel guilty about. Remember, overeating and indulging in some unhealthier foods is part of normal eating.
- The difference between a "cheat meal" and completely falling off the wagon is how fast you can get back into the groove. Remember that all is not lost if you get off track. Simply get right back on.
- Do not engage in negative self talk or negative thoughts. Try to stick to saying positive affirmations or mantras to keep your mind in a positive place. This will lead to more success long-term.
- Many times, continued negativity can lead to increased stress or feelings of guilt which may also trigger a binge or perpetuate unhealthy eating patterns.
Start journaling your goals.The original goals you may have had or were working toward might seem much farther off after overindulging. But you can get right back on track by rewriting your goals and how you plan to meet them. This little refresher can help get you motivated.
- Review your old goals and think about how you might want to change them long-term. Also consider if you should change how you're going to meet those goals.
- You can also use your journal to keep track of your food and drinks as well.
Schedule in your meals and exercise.Sometimes the amount of changes you need to make to get back to your normal routine can feel overwhelming. However, making a schedule or plan can make it seem more manageable.
- Try scheduling in your physical activity during the week. Write out which days you're going to work out, at what time, and for how long.
- Write up a meal plan for your healthy meals and snacks. This will give you the framework for grocery shopping and healthy eating.
Skip the scale.Although in the long-term, getting on the scale somewhat regularly is important to weight loss, hopping on right after a few days of overeating might not be a good idea. Chances are the number is higher than you'd prefer. This might stress you out, make you upset or increase your feelings of guilt or failure.
- Instead of worrying about the scale, focus your energy and attention on your goals and the steps you're taking to get back on track to your healthy lifestyle. The scale can wait.
- Give yourself at least a few days or a week or more until you get back on the scale. Skip the scale until you feel like you've been back on track for awhile.
- It is advisable to get back on the scale at some point. It might not be right away, but be sure to make plans to check in with your weight when you feel the time is right.
Returning to Healthy Eating
Cook and prepare meals at home.Eating and preparing all your meals and snacks at home will help you control the ingredients in each of your dishes. This will allow you the freedom to add in lots of lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains without added salt or fat that can be found in restaurant meals.
- In addition to cooking meals at home, use cooking techniques and methods that are lower calorie or lower fat. Cooking in a lot of oil or butter or using higher fat, higher calorie ingredients may only perpetuate your overindulgence.
- To make home cooking easier, go to the grocery store and stock up on your favorite healthy foods. Try to purchase: lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Eat a high fiber, high protein breakfast.Starting your day with fiber and protein can help get you back on track with healthy eating. Both fiber and protein take longer to digest compared to simple carbohydrates and both help you stay satisfied longer.
- Eating breakfast can also help you set yourself up mentally for a healthy day.
- Breakfast ideas that are both high in fiber and protein include: whole grain oatmeal with blueberries and nuts, a veggie omelet with low-fat cheese, or greek yogurt with sliced peaches and a sprinkling of granola.
Eat a big salad for lunch.Follow up your healthy breakfast with a lunch that's packed with vegetables. Pack your salad with a variety of different vegetables for a meal that can fill you up with little calories.
- Vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber but also low in calories and fat — a great food group to indulge in as you get back on track.
- Also include a source of lean protein on your salad. Again, protein helps keep you satisfied longer.
Eat a high-protein afternoon snack.It's natural to feel a little hungry in the afternoon — especially if there is a longer period of time between your lunch and dinner. Skipping an afternoon snack and being overly hungry for dinner may cause a binge or overeating.
- Snacks should be around 100-200 calories. Including fruits, vegetables, and lean protein helps keep snacks calorie-controlled while still being nutritious.
- Healthy snacks can include: carrots and hummus, celery and peanut butter, or greek yogurt with fruit.
Drink lots of water.Aim for about eight glasses or 64 oz of clear, sugar-free liquids like water, iced tea, or no-calorie flavored waters. Often, dehydration feels like hunger and tempts you to snack or eat more than you should which can throw off your "get back on track" eating plan.
- Monitor the volume of liquids you consume by purchasing a labeled water bottle. This will help you achieve your water goal throughout the day.
- Even mild dehydration has side effects. Many times, dehydration can cause afternoon fatigue and grogginess.Prevent this by sipping all day long.
- Flushing your system with water is one of the best ways to feel better when your eating hasn't been up to par.
Leave a few bites of food on your plate.Overindulging often includes eating larger portions of food. After a few days of larger portions, it can be difficult to get back to appropriate portion sizes. If you automatically plan on leaving a few bites on your plate, you can help yourself slowly get back down to smaller portions.
- Another trick is to serve your meals on smaller plates — like a salad plate. The smaller amount of food available may help you decrease your overall food consumption.
Adding in Other Supportive Practices
Exercise.Exercise will not only support weight loss, but can help you get into a good mindset for the day or week when you're getting back to your normal routine. Try to include some sort of physical activity about three to four days each week.
- Aim for 150 minutes or 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Incorporating regular aerobic exercise into your daily routine will support your weight loss. Aerobic activities can include exercises like: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, or hiking.
- It's recommended to include two days of strength training each week.Strength training includes activities like: weight lifting, Pilates, or isometric exercises like push-ups or crunches.
- Getting started with an exercise plan can be hard — especially if you're doing it alone. Working out with a friend or partner can be a great motivator to keep you on track and showing up for your weekly sweat sessions.
Get eight hours of sleep.Experts recommend trying to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep helps with mood balance and appetite control— both of which are important if you're aiming to get back on track with healthy eating.
- To help get your body ready for sleep, turn off all lights and electronics. Also try to avoid using electronics at least 30 minutes prior to your planned sleep time.
Find or build a support group.No matter how long you've overindulged, having a support group or people by your side can make getting back on track be a little easier. Whether it's your spouse, family, friends or co-workers, a support group can be your cheerleaders that will motivate and encourage you through this process.
- If you'd like, you can sign up for diet programs like Weight Watchers and go to their weekly support group meetings.
Repeat positive affirmations daily.Sometimes after a few days of overeating you can begin to feel a bit negative or down. Repeating positive affirmations daily can help boost your mood and spirits and put you in a better mindset to get back on track. Come up with your own sayings or use a few of these daily:
- "My body feels great when I feed it the right types of foods."
- "Exercise makes me feel energized and puts me in a great mindset for my day."
- "I have the willpower to make healthy choices today."
- "I'm doing the best I can to get back on track with healthy eating."
- "Indulging occasionally is OK and I'm back on track today."
- Accept your day of overindulgence as a conscious decision. Hating yourself for it will get you nowhere. The past is behind you. Be happy you have the chance to start over fresh.
- Work on getting back your normal routine slowly. Again, a sudden shift in eating, exercise, and other lifestyle changes may be too difficult to do all in one day. Take it slowly for the best results long-term.
- Get the support of friends or family members to "get back on track" with you. Many times it's easier when you have other people making similar changes with you.
- Starving yourself out of guilt will most likely not help you or be beneficial to your progress. Many times the cycle of binge eating followed by a very restricted diet can cause another binge eating episode. Try to avoid this.
Sources and Citations
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