Tantalizing treats can undermine anyone’s diet when you aren’t clearly motivated and have a virtual pantry full of weapons to fortify against a snack attack. Here’s what I recommend you take stock of:
Stay motivated with a clear vision of success. Post your goal, strategies, key benefits of success, and consequences if you don’t stay on track so that whenever you are tempted you can whip it out to remind yourself why the short-term sacrifices are worth it. You can do this! Believe and you will!
Forgo as much added sugar as possible. Spikes or dips in your blood glucose both make it very difficult to stay on track. If you can, avoid all sugar alternatives except real fruit. You will be amazed how much better you will feel when your body is no longer addicted to sugar.
Never eat (or drink) aimlessly. Most women need a low-calorie, high-protein and high-fiber diet with 800 to 1200 calories, with at least 80 grams of protein (25-35% of calories), and working your way up to 25-35 grams of fiber a day in at least 3 planned meals that have 15-35 grams of protein each:
- Always start the day with at least 15 grams of protein in your breakfast; ideally also with 5-10 grams dietary fiber (whole grains) to overcome tempting morning pastries. Some folks like a high-protein, low carbohydrate shake, others prefer a protein fortified oatmeal, others like eggs.
- An appealing lunch or dinner could be a salad with 3 oz. of your favorite protein (lean chicken, beef, fish, etc.) with no more than 30 calories from a dressing; or an open-faced sandwich with a couple of ounces of protein; a slice of your favorite cheese in either a thin sliced, whole grain bread or low calorie wrap; or a hearty meat/vegetable mix. Add a bit more fat and/or fiber to add satiety (fullness).
- Be sure to mix it up and make time to mindfully enjoy your meal so you won’t get fed up having the same old thing, or be tempted a few hours later.
If you need to snack – plan it in. Most people need to plan to eat three meals and plan a healthy PM snack between 2 and 4 PM to prevent a dietary blow-out later in the day, and they should NOT snack at night. Consider a variety of healthy snacks like apples, berries, melons, vegetable sticks, small packages of nuts and healthy cereal (my favorite is Oat Squares), high-protein yogurt, cottage cheese or even boiled eggs or soybeans. If you’re like me and absolutely must have chocolate after lunch, then plan a 50-100 calorie treat that fixes your craving, i.e, 3 chocolate kisses (or 2-3 bites of a treat). Savor the treat and then immediately get back to work.
Drink lots of fluid, ideally water or tea, throughout the day.
Prioritize your sleep to strengthen your resolve to stay on track. Most of us need to go to bed earlier to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Move more. Include a moderately challenging workout at least 3-4 days a week as well as getting up and moving every hour at work, and if possible after lunch.
Do whatever possible not to see or smell the goodies: Store them, walk a different way so you don’t see or smell what you want to avoid.
Keep in mind that what you eat and drink on the weekends, especially alcohol, can really sabotage your diet; and that more exercise and sleep on the weekends are often keys to weight maintenance.