Why diet preparation?
You’re committed to making positive changes in your health and your waistline. Congratulations! I applaud you for making improvements for your well-being. But what is your diet preparation? Because if you tell yourself that you’ll start your diet on Monday, but you haven’t properly prepared, you’ve already set yourself up for failure.
Diet preparation goes deeper than getting mentally ready for a diet. It’s about evaluating your life, your needs, and your weak spots, and letting those things influence your planning. Embarking on a weight loss journey without diet preparation is like a sports team practicing offense while ignoring defense. Imagine how that will play out on game day.
Here are 5 steps that are essential to do before starting your new diet plan –
Purchase snacks for on the go
What happens if you’re away from home, it’s 3 pm and you start feeling your blood sugar dip? You’re feeling hungry and cranky and you just need to eat something. This will be a big problem if you don’t have any available diet friendly snacks. Next thing you know and you’re at the vending machine, or getting a pick-me-up Frappuccino. Now your diet plans have gone bust. Don’t go into a diet only thinking how dedicated you are to clean eating without planning for an obstacle. Diet preparation includes identifying such problematic scenarios and preemptively creating a remedy before they occur. In this situation, having diet approved foods on hand might be the difference between success and failure.
Know how to navigate restaurants
Nothing makes a diet worse than feelings of isolation. You don’t want to turn down every social opportunity for fear of not finding diet friendly foods. So the best thing is to have a plan for restaurants. I’ve previously talked about healthy ways to dine out. Use this as a guideline. Make a list of restaurants where you can eat diet approved foods. Think about requests you can make to stick with your meal plan. While you won’t be able to make every restaurant work, asking for things like sauce/dressing on the side, veggies instead of potatoes or for baked or grilled instead of fried is a good place to start.
Write down your perceived end-goal
Why do you really want this? It’s not enough to just tell yourself that you want to be thinner. Diet preparation includes letting your brain and your heart understand how much you have to gain by succeeding. Maybe you want to have more energy to enjoy your life. Maybe you want less joint pain so you can enjoy activities you once loved. Perhaps you want to feel confident and strong in your body. Maybe you desperately need to heal the feelings that you are hiding with food. The perceived gain from your healthy transformation has to be very clear. Write it down so that you can reference it when you’re feeling lost. Otherwise, when you hit a difficult bump in the road (which will eventually happen), you’ll be very likely to abandon your game-plan.
Plan for emotional eating
You very likely eat at times to deal with difficult feelings. While the psychological side to overeating has to be addressed, you need to plan for emotional upheaval as a factor in your diet. You may be completely motivated today, but what happens when a difficult situation makes it difficult to perceive your diet as a priority? Understand that you may emotionally eat at times, so plan for better quality options. For instance, let’s say that you tend to binge on salty chips. Perhaps keep some salted nuts in your home instead. Nuts have good quality fat, some protein and are better for blood sugar than chips. You will do less long term damage to your diet by eating nuts, the salt may make them as satisfying as chips and it will be easier to get back on track the next day. What is your favorite binge food? What might be a less damaging substitute for that foods? It might sound counter-intuitive, but finding better quality binge foods can be integral to diet success.
Arrange rewards that aren’t edible
Diet shouldn’t equal deprivation. But many people feel deprived after a few weeks of dieting because they don’t build in a reward system to replace edible rewards. Before you even start your diet, think about what you would find rewarding and plan for some non-edible rewards. Perhaps you take the money you usually spend on sugar filled high-end coffee drinks in a week and buy yourself a gift. Or you take a day’s excursion to a place you’ve been wanting to go as a reward for sticking to the plan. Maybe, instead of eating after work, you give yourself an hour to completely pamper yourself, whatever that means to you. Food is an easy reward, but it isn’t the only reward you can give yourself. Finding other ways to nurture yourself is integral to a successful diet.
Diet preparation is different than procrastination
One of the first steps in diet preparation is picking a day to begin your new eating plan and sticking to it. But once you’ve scheduled your diet, make sure to do the work to maximize your chance for success. Because the first step in dieting isn’t exercising or eating a healthy meal. The first step in weight loss success is actually developing your real world strategy for navigating potential pitfalls. This will increase your odds of a long-term win.