Do you ever feel like your diet strategy must be to do it all or you should do nothing? Many people I talk with postpone improving their eating habits because they feel they aren’t ready to do it perfectly. Have you said this before? “Oh, I have a big event on the 15th and I just know there is going to be a lot of temptation. I’ll get through that and then I’ll eat nothing but kale and Brussel sprouts.” Raise your hand if that sounds familiar.
My secret wish for my clients is that they will stick to the plan as much as possible.
However, given the choice of a client cheating on a food plan rather than not doing it at all, I would choose the cheating option any day. A healthy choice still supports the body, even when followed by a “cheat food”.
Here’s how this works in action.
Let’s say you want to change your diet, but you just aren’t ready to commit to the whole diet shebang. Perhaps instead you say, I’m committed to making my breakfast a nourishing and supportive start to my day. Now, if you follow my blog you know how excited I get talking about breakfast and how important breakfast is for making good food choices for the entire day. If all you can do right now is commit to a healthy breakfast, then you’ve at least made a very big step in the right direction.
I had a client and she never had time for breakfast.
In fact, she didn’t eat breakfast at all. And she was shocked that her weight kept increasing, even though she didn’t eat until midday. (You can read why saving your calories for the latter half of the day doesn’t work here.) She had too much to do in the morning between getting her family ready for their day, getting herself to work and hitting her heavy schedule of deadlines.
The thing I did notice though was that while she didn’t have time for breakfast, she had plenty of time for coffee. In fact, the only morning fuel she provided her body was high doses of caffeine and sugary creamer. So I asked her, if you have time to drink in the morning, would you be willing to take a week and include a drink that will actually nourish you. I’m pretty sure she though there would be a catch. It sounded too simple. Nonetheless, she cautiously said, “Sure. Why not?”
So I had her start her mornings with a smoothie that took less than 2 minutes to make.
She put in almond milk, some flax seeds, a small handful of spinach, a scoop of unsweetened whey protein powder, a half of a banana and a half cup of strawberries. She blended for about 60 seconds and poured it into her travel mug. Within minutes she was in the front seat of her car navigating rush hour traffic, her smoothie securely sitting beside her.
Did that put a dent in her schedule? Not really. Even the busiest of us can find 2 extra minutes in the morning if pressed. So how did she feel starting her day with actual nourishment? She reported feeling better not only in the morning, but also in the afternoon at the time when she often crashed. Fancy feeling so much better after one small adjustment!
Now, I’m certainly not trying to insinuate that you can hit all your health and weight loss goals by just changing what you eat for breakfast.
To look svelte and radiant as you walk into your high school reunion will take you transitioning many bad habits into better ones. What I am saying is that doing one thing is so much better than doing nothing. If all you can do this week is build one healthy habit, you’ve made a productive change in your diet and health. And if you add one healthy habit every week for a year, you will get to New Year’s Eve in much better shape than if you spent the year lost in complacency.
So is there one small healthy habit that you could make start building today? If not, then what is getting in your way? Don’t be shy! Let me know in the comments below!
I am a breakfast dismisser and have been for many years. Not on the weekend though. But I don’t really drink coffee either. If anything it’s a banana or apple. I could do better.
Haha! Maybe a little bit better Tim. At least an apple or banana is a good start.
I guess I am fortunate that I really do love vegetables. My favorite foods used to be macaroni and cheese – but I can no longer eat dairy, my body complains almost right away. And I have lowered my eating of wheat products in general.
This past year my husband I got into the smoothie thing. Problem is, I don’t always make one in time for his breakfast. But he does like them at dinner. When I went away, he didn’t make one at all – I guess prefers that I do it for him. Our kids make fun of our smoothie drinks. At least we get two of three eating salad.
That’s great that you know your body Leora. So many people ignore the signs that a food has become troubling for them. And that is so cute that your husband waits for you to come make him a smoothie. I make smoothies for my husband sometimes, but it is usually to steer him away from a bad food choice. Like, “don’ eat that. I’ll make you a smoothie!”
Mahal Hudson says
I was talking with my girlfriends about diet and lifestyle. The other one seems restrictive while the other one is a perspective of choice.
Like you said, simple plans can yield great results. As for me, create habits to a better you. I started mixing “greens” from Arbonne to my daily juice intake. Every little steps count, right?!
Of course every little step counts. Adding greens to a smoothie is a great way to go. Once they are mashed up with everything else, you really don’t know they are there. It is also a great way to get kids to eat vegetables. You put the greens in while the kids aren’t looking and before you know it, they are drinking vegetables!
Ken Dowell says
I’m not sure I would be as amenable to trading out morning coffee for a smoothie. But I would love to have a big bunch of concord grapes like the one in your image above for breakfast tomorrow.
Hey, I totally wasn’t saying that you still can’t have your coffee too. I was just saying that the smoothie would be easy for someone to add to their diet when they are already used to starting the morning with a beverage. Great point about the grapes. They look super yummy!
Jacqueline Gum says
Funny you should mention this! Recently, I changed my morning routine (coffee no breakfast) to include a smoothie! Protein powder, carrot juice, beet juice, one whole avocado, 3/4 cup mixed berries or blueberries, and an elixir that contains all the “green stuff”. I also add doses of liquid Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, and Fish Oil. I am surprised how much better I feel! But I cannot give up my coffee:) Maye this is my way of compensating! LOL I need to gain about 4 pounds and I am hoping this will help!
That smoothie does sound amazing. I love putting an avocado into a smoothie. It makes it so creamy! Glad it is helping you feel better.
As a child I couldn’t eat breakfast – if I did I would be sick on the bus. Of course, back then we didn’t go to a doctor unless there were broken bones or serious bleeding – the rest was dealt with at home. This meant that even as an adult I never ate breakfast. Now I love my dish of porridge (oatmeal and flax seed) cooked in orange juice. It has been a long time coming but better late then never, right?
Of course Lenie! It is never too late to change a habit for the better. I feel bad for the little version of you getting sick on the bus though. Ugh, that must have been horrible. Glad you finally found a morning meal that works for you.
I hear to my mother saying always, ” Eat breakfast like king” so I always stick to it as she has developed a habit in me for having healthy breakfast. I do not skip my breakfast. I am trying to develop same habit in my daughter but it is hard not to start the day with coffee.
Smoothie I take but at times, when I really want to, otherwise I go more for salad than smoothie.
Wow, a salad for breakfast. I’ve never tried that but glad it works for you. It sounds like your mother did a good job at helping you build a healthy habit.
Pamela Chollet says
I was one of those people that skipped breakfast. I never realized the fog I walked around in every morning until I changed my eating habits. Now. I start t the day with 16 ounces of lemon water to wake up my digestive system and eat breakfast within 30 min. I can’t believe the major effect my eating breakfast has on my entire day.
I know! Doesn’t doesn’t breakfast just set up your whole day? That is why it is the first thing I like to tackle with someone And yes, I agree. Waking up with lemon water is amazing!
I am a breakfast person. Love my full English breakfast.
I dont drink coffee but I love my cereal and hot chocolate.
You are right there will my husband in your love for cereal and hot chocolate! I think he would love to have that everyday if he could!
Meredith @ The Palette Muse says
This sounds just like me! I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl when it comes to dieting, although that usually translates into all junk food and nothing good. I love breakfast, but my small change is going to be replacing my afternoon snack (usually cheese and crackers) with a fruit and veggie smoothie.
Of course, I think that is an awesome switch Meredith. I hope you feel the benefits of the change.
Marquita Herald says
Wonderful tips Erica and I’m a big believer in the value of small steps. I was an emotional eater all the way through high school and spent the next decade on one diet after another and nothing worked. Finally I stopped stressing over dieting and just limited portion size and eliminated all fast food. Within 6 months I reached my ideal weight – painlessly. Now I just focus on eating smart.
I was totally an emotional eater in my younger years too. I think it is probably pretty common, especially with all the stresses of growing up. The hardest is when you spend your life as an emotional eater with a fast metabolism. Then, as age starts to slow things down, weight can start to creep up. I felt lucky that I did gain weight young. As hard as that was to go through at the time, it made me change my eating habits before I had the time to really turn them into a long term habit.
susan cooper says
I definitely think you hit the nail in the head. We don’t change our diet because we think it is all or nothing. If i could just do one small step until i get used to it and it sticks and then move on to next i think id have better luck.
Thanks Susan. I’ll admit that the results come slower this way. But if someone can’t commit to the whole diet shebang, slow and steady will get them further than doing nothing. That is for sure.