Have you ever just started a new health goal and then walk into an event and see tables full of delicious edibles? I’m talking about cookies, cakes, and chocolates. Those are my weakness. Yes, all of them! The cookies with the frosting that tastes like a S’more, the chocolate cake with the chocolate shavings that I’m sure would just melt in my mouth. And then, just chocolates in general…Truffles, caramels, you name it, I like it!
My mouth waters just thinking about it.
Well, that scenario used to be a challenge for me in knowing whether to pick up a plate and fill it or just mingle with water in my hand. I knew if I picked up a plate, I’d want to try everything on the table, at least once. And, if I wasn’t participating in a new health goal challenge, I would have.
But, you see, I’m one of those people that if I say I’m going to do something, I get it done. It happens in other areas of my life too, but with health, it’s a BIG priority.
I remember going to a youth camp one year as a leader where we had to actually camp with tents and use camp burners for cooking. I wasn’t in charge of the menu and I had just started a new nutrition challenge at the gym I attend. I wasn’t supposed to eat bread, pancakes, or anything processed. IT WAS HARD! But, there was an accountability system involved. I had to check in each week with what I ate and how much exercise I did. There were rewards too to help me stay motivated. So, I didn’t crack. I kept to the challenge. I got it done!
But that’s not a “long-term” goal for me. Who wants to go a lifetime without sweets and absolutely nothing processed? I mean, it’s a great goal, but it’s not one for me. And it’s not very realistic.
My trick is moderation. So yes, I can ward off the “condemnable” foods for a few months, but then life sets in. Traveling, parties, gatherings, etc. Just about every event involves food of some sort. Usually the “not-so-good” for you sort.
So, you have to have a plan. And I’ve got some great suggestions for you to help you start and maintain good habits amidst all the junk food.
Don’t just eat junk food because you can.
No one is telling you not to eat, so it’s up to you to decide. Look at all the wonderful edibles on the table and see if anything looks worth eating. Sometimes by just looking at a cookie, I can imagine if it will “brighten” my day, or just be a piece of food that I eat. I obviously know it’s not healthy for me, so if it’s not something that’s going to fulfill me, I don’t eat it. I walk away. I’ve taken a bite of a cookie because it looked good. After the first bite, I realized that it wasn’t amazing. So I didn’t eat anymore.
Eat in moderation.
Even my most favorite desserts, I only eat in moderation. I will drive out of my way to Crumbl cookies to get me most favorite cookie, Chocolate Chip. After a few bites, I’m good. My craving was satisfied. Sometimes after a fulfilling lunch, I’ll eat one piece of chocolate. I’m good for the entire day. I think just knowing there are no boundaries, and I could eat anything if I wanted to, it allows me to know that I have a choice. I’m not keeping myself from anything. It makes the decision to choose NOT to eat the junk food easier. It must be psychological. 😊
I love to be outdoors and exercise my body in fun ways. I know if I ate anything in sight that my body will start to not move as easily and efficiently. Focusing on that reason helps me maintain good habits too.
Take care of yourself.
I find that if I am stressed and not sleeping well, my eating habits go down the drain. Set aside time to pray, breathe and move. Make sleep a priority. Make YOU a priority. If you don’t take care of you, who will?
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
We’ve all eaten too much junk food before. I don’t think anyone is immune from making that mistake. If it happens to be your day of eating everything in sight because you have no self-control (well, actually you DO have control. You decided because you don’t have control over many other things in your life that you would use the only thing you have control of…food. Yes, I’ve done that too.), then FORGIVE yourself. You’re not a bad person. In fact you are one of the most amazing people on earth. What you ate doesn’t define who you are.
It’s hard to do anything alone. Plus, it’s always more fun to do challenges with a friend. If you’re starting a nutrition challenge or just trying to maintain the one you’ve been implementing, tell someone about it. Talk about it. Make it part of who you are by sharing it with others.
Celebrate your wins!
It’s not just the little kids that love prizes or rewards when doing a job well done. I do too! If I know I get something for not eating junk food. I’m gonna’ do it because I want the reward. That reward could just be simple like being recognized by a friend that I accomplished it. Or, it could be a gift card or a dinner at your favorite restaurant. Whatever makes your heart happy, then use it as a reward.
Most recently, after finishing a challenge, my reward was something I didn’t anticipate. Because of the way I ate (because I didn’t change anything else in my lifestyle) I was able to run faster, longer. I was also able to lift heavier weights at the gym and my mental health was on the mend. Nutrition affects every aspect of your body…mentally, physically and spiritually. And I am a standing example of that fact!
So when someone asks me how I maintain my good habits when there is so much junk food around, the answer is as simple as I want to be happy and healthy NOW and when I’m older. I want to use this body and mind of mine to do good in the world. I was given a purpose in life. I have to take care of myself to fulfill that purpose. Maintaining good habits is a HUGE step in getting there.