As you may have seen mentioned in my social media, as of next week I’ll be participating in a fairly strict nutrition challenge. Monday is quickly approaching and I slightly began to panic. The nutrition chick, panicking about a nutrition challenge?! Yeah, it’s a thing. Here’s why. I follow a fairly healthy diet, but if I want a doughnut, I eat a doughnut. If I’m not feeling like following my eating pattern to a T, I don’t. Which has kind of worked for me. Notice I say “kind of,” I haven’t completely dialed it all in yet. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly where I want to be from a health and nutrition standpoint, but that’s why I’m doing this challenge, right?!
Anyways! The biggest thing for me is, I’ve never really been held accountable with my diet in the way that I will be this time around. I mean I did some of the Beachbody challenges way back when but nothing strictly nutrition, and this time I’m serious about making changes. Not only because I’m competitive as all get out, but also because this style of eating is something that I’ve researched and is bound to increase my health.
So back to me in panic mode... I began to think, what do I need to do to prepare for this challenge and be successful??
I started thinking of a few things that I knew would be beneficial to do before the challenge started, and then I got to thinking even more... I’m sure other people would find this helpful too, so now, my solution to my own problem has turned into a blog post!
7 Ways to Be Successful with a New Diet Change
1. Have a Plan.
Okay, this may seem a little broad, but I’ll explain. If you don’t know what change you want to make, the next tips I am going to give you are going to be pretty tough to implement. So, what are you changing? What do you plan to do that is your “diet change?” Whether you plan to move forward with a specific eating pattern (like paleo, keto, primal, carbohydrate counting, DASH, Mediterranean, or other set plan) or if you’re just making specific changes (like adding a specific number of fruits and vegetables, taking out pop, adding in more protein) pick something and stick to it.
2. Know the Requirements.
Okay now you know what you’re doing... but how is that gonna happen? What foods should you make sure you include and which foods should you steer clear from? For those working on a specific eating pattern, you’ll need to look up approved foods and foods that don’t meet the criteria or are suggested that you avoid. (*Google is awesome or if you have access to a nutrition professional you can go that route too*) Those making small changes may wish to look deeper into their choice as well. Like, what are the recommended daily intakes for fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, if eliminating pop maybe look into sugar recommendations daily and see where else you could eliminate sugar, or if you're adding/subtracting a specific macronutrient, find out what foods are good/poor sources.
3. Find Some Recipes.
Some people may look at what foods they can and can’t have and get overwhelmed. Others may get so excited, go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of foods, but have zero idea what they’re going to actually prepare for meals out of those foods. In both cases, it’s going to be best to find some recipes! Google is an amazing tool, use it! A simple online search of ___________ recipe or recipe with ___________ should give you a good start. If you wanna dive a little deeper, start a Pinterest board or a Yummly account to save certain recipes and get recommendations based on what you like. This will give you of an idea of what to prepare and other ingredients you may need to pick up.
Many times, you can find a “This Not That” cheat sheet for specific diets if you’re wondering how to incorporate the new patterns into your current eating style. If you get creative, you can look at the foods you can have, the foods you should avoid, and recipes that you enjoy and there are TONS of substitutions you can make to make things just a little bit healthier and fit your eating pattern. You could even look up a specific recipe that follows a specific diet. For example, if you love chili and want to follow a paleo diet, simply search “paleo chili recipe.” If you’re just making small changes, think about how you can make substitutions there as well. For example, zucchini noodles rather than pasta, fruit/green/protein smoothie rather than dessert, tea or flavored water instead of pop, or celery and peanut butter for a snack rather than chips and dip.
5. Clean Out the Kitchen.
Doesn’t fit your new eating pattern but it’s in your pantry? TOSS IT! Get the junk out. You’re much less likely to splurge and cheat on a new eating pattern if you don’t have the temptations there in the first place.
6. Make Your List and SHOP!
Now you know what foods you can have, what foods you won’t be buying, and you have a few recipes lined up with the ingredients that you’ll be needing. Make a list of what you want to get at the grocery store and make it happen.
Support can come from many places whether it be a spouse, family, friends, a group you’re working with, or a professional. If you can get your family or other people in your household on board that’s a HUGE WIN. It makes the whole “clean out your kitchen” step easier and more feasible, decreases the chance of temptations by foods they’re eating, and it’s someone to encourage you on a daily basis to make the right choices. If you’re doing a nutrition challenge with a group, lean on those other people in the group, share your experiences, recipes, tips and tricks, etc. They’re doing the EXACT same thing you are and they’re there for you as much as you are there for them. If you need additional assistance in making changes, need guidance, have a negative experience with the change, or have health issues that may warrant more caution with diet change talk to your doctor or a nutrition professional about what would be best for you.
I hope you find this helpful and I would be more than happy to help you out if you need a bit of additional support or guidance in making a diet change!
Share your tips and tricks to successful healthy eating habits in the comments!