What to do if you’ve fallen off the healthy eating wagon

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Recently a lot of my patients have told me they haven’t been eating well. They’ve been snacking while not hungry or have nibbled on junk food throughout the day instead of eating proper healthy meals. Basically, they have been eating in a way they know isn’t good for their health, but they’ve been unable to stop. Some of them are experiencing backwards steps in health improvements they’ve previously achieved.

It’s not surprising to hear that self care has suffered for a lot of people. Most people are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety and uncertainty, and it’s negatively affecting their diet and lifestyle. Please remember that your health is precious. You also deserve to feel good about yourself and feel comfortable in your body. Preparing healthy meals for yourself and getting enough sleep, rest and exercise are powerful ways to feel better today, and protect your long term health.

The following tips may help you get back on track with healthy eating:

Find ways to relax, unwind and reduce anxiety

A person who feels stressed and anxious all the time is not likely to make healthy meal choices. Try to find hobbies that excite you. Too often people use eating as a form of entertainment, or they eat in the evening after dinner, in an attempt to relax. There are new things to try, and things to learn, even when stuck at home.

Be organised in the kitchen

Make a plan and stick to it. People who plan their meals ahead of time are more likely to stick to eating healthy foods. Impulsive decisions often lead to unhealthy meals and snacks that ruin your diet plans. You can’t always remove all unhealthy foods from your house because other people who live there may want to eat them. That’s ok, they’re allowed to; we’re only focussing on you.

Just eat real food

You don’t need to count calories, weigh, or measure your foods. Just eat natural, unprocessed foods and trust your appetite. No animal in the wild has the ability to count calories; they just eat when they are hungry and stop when they’re satisfied, and are able to maintain a healthy weight. Factory foods such as chips, pretzels, biscuits and chocolate are specifically engineered to make you eat in an out of control manner, feeling like you can’t stop once you’ve started. If you are prone to binge eating or have a food addiction, it’s critical to stay away from those foods. Whereas if you cook your own meals from healthy basic ingredients, you are far more likely to achieve natural appetite control without the struggle.

Make sure you eat enough protein

Protein is the most satiating nutrient. Most people require 1.5 grams of protein per kilo of ideal body weight for their height. That’s around 90 grams of protein for most women. Not many of my female patients achieve this target. One egg provides 6 to 8 grams of protein. A 200 gram scotch fillet contains approximately 48 grams of protein. The protein in animal foods is much easier to digest and utilise than the protein in plant foods. Synd-X Slimming Protein powder is a concentrated source of protein that’s an excellent, satiating addition to the diet.

Try to get enough sleep

This is actually the most important strategy in getting hunger and cravings under control. If you don’t sleep well or get adequate sleep, you are far more prone to make emotional rather than rational decisions when it comes to eating. Lack of sleep also raises the hunger hormones in your body, so you will genuinely feel hungrier. So rather than getting out of bed at 5 am to exercise, you are better off staying in bed and getting more sleep. Exercise is important, but not at the expense of good quality sleep. If your sleep quality is not good enough; you may want to try a magnesium supplement. It can help you achieve a deeper sleep. People who have difficulties falling asleep usually improve with a melatonin supplement.

Exercise in a way that is fun and inspiring for you

It doesn’t have to be structured exercise or lengthy exercise. Just as long as you aren’t sitting on your backside all day. You may like to take your dog for a walk, or take a walk with your partner after lunch on the weekends. There are so many free Pilates classes on the internet. Find some kind of movement that you enjoy and that doesn’t feel like a chore. Exercise isn’t only about burning calories. It promotes your brain to produce feel-good chemicals called endorphins. People who exercise regularly are more likely to handle stress better, feel calmer, and more optimistic. Those characteristics make it easier to stick to a healthy diet.

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