My Top 10 Tips for Sticking to a Cleaner Eating Lifestyle (not Diet!!)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's never hard to find your reason for WANTING to learn how to eat cleaner and healthier: lose a few of those pounds you put on over the holidays, summer's around the corner and it's time to get bathing suit ready, or you know you're in for a crazy couple of candy laden, cake filled, chocolate covered months this Fall as we dive right into the holidays full force.  The biggest issue is actually DOING it and learning how to stick to your guns.  So with that being said, here are some of my top 10 tips to help you get there!

1.  Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

Decide where you want to start with your healthy eating.  What do you want to start incorporating into your diet?  Likewise what do you want to see out of it?  Are you the kind of person that responds better to small changes made over time (as most are) or are you a cold turkey kind of person and need to totally remove yourself from all temptations at once.  Figure out what works best for you and write down what your goals are.

Try to determine a realistic timeline.  What do you want to accomplish this week.  In 30 days where do you see yourself, same with 60 and then 90.  Re-evaluate as you go along.  Are you doing better than you thought?  Do you need to switch things up to accommodate changes in your life?  Whatever it is write your goals down and make your expectations realistic for you.   Focus on one thing at a time, give it your all and don't let this process overwhelm you.  If you find that happening, sit back, take some time to relax and refocus yourself.  YOU CAN DO THIS!

Keep your goals visible.  Put them on your phone, write them on a post it and stick them on your fridge.  Make sure they are ever present in your mind and you'll be less likely to slip up until they become second nature!

2. Plan Your Meals

Sit down once a week with blank plan similar to the one to the left and fill in what you (or you and your family) will be eating for the week. Figure out a list of healthier foods you enjoy and what you can take on the go for those moments you need to grab something in a hurry or can't sit down to a meal.  Give yourself a couple of snack options to choose from if you feel you need to switch it up every so often.  Once you've figured out your plan, create a grocery list and go shopping.  STICK TO YOUR LIST!  When you start to deviate off course you are more likely to end up getting things you don't need or that aren't good for you.

3. Enjoy What You Eat

This is a big one for me.  Clean eating DOES NOT have to be bland! Do you have a few favorite meals you enjoy.  Try Googling clean eating versions of them so you aren't having to give up everything you love, just recreating it!  Get on Pinterest and create a Clean Eating Board.  Look up recipes every so often and "pin" them so when you're stuck for meal ideas you have options to choose from or create a recipe "bookmark" in your web browser.  A file in your email will also work if you prefer to email yourself recipes.  When you enjoy what you are eating and know that you are fueling your body with the healthy nutrients that it needs instead of all the crap available at our every beck and call you'll be a much happier person!

4. Get Rid of the Junk!

1st of all, stop buying and cooking food that's junk for you.  Do an overhaul of your cupboards.  Get rid of the cookies,cakes, chips, donuts, pop, frozen instant microwaveable meals, ice cream, candy and in general so much of the food that has no nutritional value for you.  A good note to consider, if you look at the ingredients list and can't pronounce most of the words, it's probably not good for you!  Don't be afraid to get this stuff out of your house.  If you aren't eating it, your family probably shouldn't be either and I PROMISE there are other great tasting options out there for you all.

Keep healthy snacks handy. Check out Chocolate Shakeology if you have a raging chocolate sweet tooth like me, or would like to make some delicious at home fudge pops for your kids that actually have some nutritional value to them!

5. Portion Control

When you carefully monitor your food choices you are more likely to decrease the amount of food you actually eat.  When we don't pay attention to our portion sizes it's very easy to overindulge.  Using a smaller plate can also help you with your portion sizes.  Studies have shown when we're presented with a large plate we ultimately feel the need to fill it.  Here are some great guides you can use to determine portion sizes when you don't have measuring tools handy!

6. Realize that Life Happens!

Despite all of our best efforts at planning sometimes we just have to realize that life happens.  It's messy and unpredictable and if it kicks you off track for a meal or a day don't beat yourself up!  Be flexible and realize that tomorrow is a new day.  One bad meal doesn't have to ruin your entire day.  Try to carry healthy snacks around with you to help avoid temptation if you need something in a pinch and as you learn more about eating clean you'll be more equipped to evaluate menus and learn how to make smarted choices.  For upcoming events, try to plan ahead and if you know there won't be choices you are comfortable with eat before you go when possible so you don't arrive on an empty stomach ready to grab whatever is near.  For me, I try to keep about an 80/20 balance.  80% clean 20% not clean to allow for some of my favorite foods but also these unplanned situations, so find your balance and what you are aiming for.  You can try to plan your "cheat" meals around upcoming events you know you have to attend.

7. Be Consistent

It takes 21 days to develop a new habit so don't give up!  The more you educate yourself and try new things the easier it becomes and the more enjoyable!  Remember this isn't a diet it's a lifestyle change so hang in there!  It's all worth it in the end.

8.  Don't have time? Make it.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day and if you need to get creative with your time to make this work then so be it.  Telling me you don't have time to take care of your health is not a good enough excuse.  You need to rethink your priorities.  If you find brown-bagging your lunch difficult to prep everyday by things that are healthy and convenient to just throw together.  Fruit, Greek yogurt, nuts, tuna packs, baby carrots, individual packets of peanut butter (all natural if you can find it preferably).  Make a couple meals each week and portion out leftovers for lunch.  MAKE THE TIME.  Your health is the most important thing you have.  Take care of yourself and your body will thank you later for it.

9.  Stop Making Excuses For Yourself

You have to get over your own excuses.  Most of us have been so conditioned to believe in and succumb to our excuses rather than finding the will to find the way to get out of our situation, whatever it may be.  Take responsibility for your actions and don't let your excuses get the better of you because all they do is stop us from becoming all that we were created to become.

Addicted to chocolate?  Get it out of your house and try Chocolate Shakeology instead.  It'll not only help with your cravings but feels like a treat when your drinking it and is probably the healthiest meal you can put in your body.  Nutritious and Delicious! No excuses!

Think Healthy Eating is too expensive?  Get a Costco or Sam's club membership.  Pre-make meals and freeze ahead of time so you can buy in bulk for cheap.  Do some cost comparisons to see what you are spending ordering in lunch or getting fast food instead.  Your body and your wallet will thank you for it in the end.

Take control of what you can.  Do your best and forget the rest! 

10.  Celebrate Your Successes 


This is very important especially in the beginning of your journey or if you start to make drastic changes.  Share with friends and family members your successes and be proud of what you've accomplished, even if it doesn't seem like much to others at first.  Enlist their help in continuing to support you.  Every small step forward is still progress! Give yourself rewards (but not with food!).  Get a massage, treat yourself to a new workout outfit, put a money jar together and for every small success put a dollar in it then treat yourself to something you've been wanting for a while.  Regardless, don't undermine your accomplishments, each one leads you closer to your goal and pretty soon you'll be bursting with pride as you see and feel yourself transform.

Bonus Tip:  What is your Why?

Figuring out your ultimate reason for WHY you actually want to start this journey will be what fuels your fire throughout the process
  • Maybe you want to lose some weight and learn to eat better so you can be a better example to your kids, or your parents or someone in your life who you see spiraling down the wrong track health wise.
  • Maybe you want more energy so you can get out and play with your children more often or climb a flight of stairs without getting winded
  • Maybe you want to look in the mirror and instead of criticizing yourself be proud of what you've accomplished and who you've become in the process
  • Maybe you want to feel sexier for your partner, ultimately leading to you feeling better in your own skin
  • Maybe you want to run a marathon/complete an obstacle run/insert appropriate goal here and need to learn to discipline your eating habits
  • Maybe your scared of health factors throughout your family and don't want to be the next in line to get diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.  While some of this is out of our control, so much of what we do in our daily lives can make a HUGE difference in our health

Whatever your reasons, figure out your Ultimate WHY , write it down and don't forget it.

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