I'm human... I know being healthy isn't always easy in a world of temptation. But that doesn't mean it's impossible! I took a poll from friends and family about what they find their hardest struggle to be in the battle of being healthy. Here I'll explain the bigger picture problems, and how to overcome them.
Problem #1: Sweet teeth! There are ultimately two types of people in this world... those who crave sweets and those who crave salty. If you're my mother, you crave both depending on what time of day it is. The struggle for her is super real... I have to hide things! Having a sweet tooth or a hankering for some salt is not the end all be all to your healthy eating. Often, if you're body is craving something it could be because you need it. Unfortunately, a candy bar has little to do with this unless your blood sugar is dangerously low. The best ways to combat a craving is out of sight out of mind, distraction, or supplementation.
If you leave your biggest weakness out in the open, of course you will want it. Food companies pay big bucks to people who make their product look irresistible. Keep snacks in a colored tupperware container or in a separate room so you're less likely to see it and then want it, and think about nothing else. If it's truly awful for you... don't buy it! If it's not in the house, you won't eat it. The distraction method works like this; paint your nails or pay bills, build something, go for a walk, read a few chapters in a book. More often than not, you're simply bored, or maybe thirsty, and not really hungry. Get your mind moving, exercise your brain, and it won't linger on the bag of chips you think you want. Supplementation works by switching out what you might want with a healthier option to cut down on the guilt. Craving sweets? Try a piece of fruit, have a yogurt, or have a rice cake with nutella. It will crave the sweet tooth with less of the calories. Really craving a certain thing? Don't deprive yourself but portion yourself; you don't have to eat the whole candy bar. Break off a piece and put the rest away before you indulge and then move on to doing something. Craving salt? Try a handful of pretzels, or some veggies with hummus.
Problem #2: Healthy food gets boring. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS! If you don't have a pinterest account, get one... so many ideas in one place. Now when you search healthy meals, will every one of them truly be healthy, probably not, but it will give you ideas. Switch up your salads, soup, and sandwiches. Add some ZING to your dinners and breakfasts. Rotate snacks so you don't get tired of them. I am often away from home for long hours and without a microwave so I've gotten creative with salads and sandwiches so I'm not tempted to hop over to McDevils.
*Spinach (I prefer the taste of baby spinach) salad variations:
-Grilled & seasoned chicken, strawberries, walnuts, red peppers, cucumbers, avocado, goat cheese,and raspberry vinagrette. Strawberries not in season? Try clementines or apple chips.
-Grilled shrimp, peppers, cucumbers, goat cheese, and balsamic vinagrette.
-Grilled steak, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, and a light peppercorn dressing.
There are 3 salads that don't taste at all similar. While spinach is healthier than other lettuces, if you like the crunch of iceberg or romaine, or the taste of arugula then add some in. Try new things, you might like it!
*Sandwiches: the options are endless! I like cracked pepper turkey, but with ham, chicken, and roast beef options you can change it up often. Then all the variations in cheese! I often use mustard, avocado, tomato, and baby spinach on my sandwiches as well. Sometimes if I'm home I'll pop the bread, cheese, and meat into the oven to toast it and then add on the extras for a change. Ever toasted the bread for a pb&j? Or try a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a veggie and hummus wrap, or add multiple meats (a slice of ham, a slice of turkey) to add different flavors. Try to stick to wheat bread and whole grain wraps.
Don't be afraid to try something new and play with old recipes. I keep a food planner on the fridge too and will go back a few weeks sometimes and think oh yea! I forgot about that idea!
Problem #3: I can't find healthy snacks. Well, this is just ridiculous. Get out of the granola bar aisle, please and thank you. You just have to get creative, and invest in various sizes of tupperware! My usual snack shelf usually consists of: pretzels (dip them in peanut butter or nutella if you get tired of plain), clementines, apples, and bananas, rice cakes (again I use peanut butter or nutella), belvita bars, a few protein bars, oatmeal ready to go, yogurt, laughing cow cheese, hard boiled eggs, applesauce, raisins, and almonds or pistachios. I love the summer because I live off of fruit, but during the winter I splurge every now and then and get some pineapple or cherries to switch it up. Again, you just have to get creative. I usually plan to have a fruit snack after breakfast, a sweet snack with lunch, and a snack around 2-4 when I start to get tired and hungry. Don't overdo it on snacks, but don't avoid them either.
Problem #4: Eating when bored. This is definitely not good, but very common. To break this habit, stop eating while watching tv, driving, or doing something else. You aren't paying attention to how much or what you are even eating and therefore you tend to overeat. Eating is part mental as much as physiological. People get a lot of comfort and enjoyment out of food these days, not only nutrients. We use food as a way to celebrate, go on a first date, meet up with friends, or even to console our feelings. Keep food in the kitchen or dining area so you'll be less likely to eat during a movie. If you're in the middle of something and you're hungry, take a break. If you know you are simply bored out of your mind, use the distraction method from Problem 1... take your mind off of it and try to drink at least a glass of water. I doubt you will still feel so ravished afterwards, but if you do, eat... in an appropriate place.
Eating healthy doesn't have to suck, it can actually be quite enjoyable. Does it take planning and a little extra time? Yes, usually. Is it worth it? Absolutely, always. When you fill your body with good stuff, it doesn't need as much to carry out the processes it needs the food for. When you eat junk, a lot of that can't be absorbed or used by your body, and it starts signaling you need more food because your body has a lot of work left to do in the day. The biggest use of calories in your body goes toward your Basal Metabolic Rate; this is what keeps you alive. Your BMR burns more calories then your workout will, so don't starve it, fuel it!
Food is Fuel!