Are you in a diet rut? Should you be?
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I am such a boring dieter. Basically I eat variations on the same food every day – even my evening snacks are dull. Some experts say there is nothing wrong with an unimaginative diet routine and it’s certainly worked for me for many years.
However, last week I shook that up!
When you have a routine
Although I am at my goal weight, I wouldn’t mind losing another five pounds. It would be nice to have little wiggle room for possible future food indiscretions. But as we all know, that last five-pound loss can be tough to achieve.
Recently my brother from out of state came to stay with me for a week. I faithfully stuck to my diet, but my routine (okay, my rut) went out of kilter. Being a good sister, I cooked more elaborate meals for him than I would have for myself. My boring yogurt and fruit breakfast became an omelet. My even more boring lunch salad with feta became a sliced turkey sandwich on a pita pocket. My every night version of chicken stir-fry became bean chili or turkey meatballs. And my nighttime snack of air pop popcorn or a yogurt bar became no nighttime snack. That was partly because he and I ate dinner much later than I would have by myself. (Note: When one eats dinner at 5:30, grazing often begins at 7:00.)
Between the changes in my food intake and the shift in my eating times, I lost three pounds while he was here.
Apparently, I didn’t need a new diet plan; I needed to shake up my old plan.
What about no routine?
There’s another side to this: the dieter who has no eating routine at all. I have friends who many of you may identify with more then with me. They are professional women (and mothers) who are so busy that breakfast often consists of only coffee, lunch is at 2:00 (if they have any lunch at all) and dinner is in the late evening. Much of their lives are grabbing a bite on the run.
By the time they sit down to eat, they are famished. Being famished can mean making poor decisions such as eating from a restaurant bread basket, ordering a higher calorie meals because “I had no lunch,” or upon finding their kitchen devoid of any food, settling for the kid’s leftover chicken fingers.
I wish I had an answer for my friends “on the run,” who are too busy to have a diet routine. Except … the obvious answer is to create a diet routine that covers their worse case scenarios.
No time for breakfast? Have a power bar or yogurt or whatever is diet friendly. Too busy for lunch? Have fruit or granola or some other healthy snack to tide you over until you can take a lunch break. Dinner late? Have a few premade “good” meals on hand, or whip yourself up an omelet, or get a healthy take out meal (many grocery stores have delicious meals for those too busy to cook).
The one thing I know for sure about dieting is that playing games does not work. We all need a diet routine: a fall back plan when the need for food outweighs the need to diet. And that fall back plan involves anticipating daily diet pitfalls.
When my brother was here, I knew I would have to eat and cook differently. I planned ahead what I could make for him that would work for me.
An “eat on the run” person must do the same thing. A busy week ahead? Stock that healthy snack bag, have good food in the fridge or know the stops along your drive home that can provide you with healthy nutritious food. And that does not mean the convenience store with the special on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.