Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bulletproof Your Diet Efforts

Google stopped counting "best diet tips" after getting to 313,000,000 in a little more than half a second. I didn't read any of the results, but I'm guessing most of the results include lists. Anyway, there are a lot of strategies to help you meet your diet goals. I'm just going to talk about one today. It's my own. I stumbled on it trying to eat better myself and I know it will help you. Most tips you read or hear about are about trying something new. This might be a new idea, but it's designed to keep you from going back to something old. 

Change your staples.

That's it. Change your diet staples and you'll have just as hard of a time going back to your bad habits as you had cleaning up your weekly menus in the first place. Many people make the mistake of trying too many new recipes when changing diets. I love to cook and I love creating in the kitchen and trying new things. But being a full time chef when you get home from work is exhausting. If you're not careful, it's easy to pick up an old staple one night on the way home from a long day of work and that's too often the beginning of the end for healthy intentions.

There was a time in my life when I could leave work late, stop at the store, blindfold myself, grab some fresh chicken, a package of those Buitoni tortellini, a jar of marinara, and head home. I didn't actually use the blindfold but I could have. Today, it's zucchini instead of tortellini and if they kept it in the same place every day I could probably do that blindfolded too. In the same way, it's automatic for me to pick up ground hamburger and some sweet potatoes or a spaghetti squash. 

When we first dropped grains in early 2013 it was a challenge sometimes to stand in the grocery store and try to find a quick meal for a Thursday night. But as we swapped out pasta nights for squash nights, pizza nights for hamburgers and salad nights, and pancakes for egg frittatas it's gotten much easier. And now that we have new staples, I'm not sure I'd immediately know how to switch back.

Some tips on replacing staples:
  • Write down a list of your go-to meals
    • Choose the ones that least fit the healthy diet you are trying to attain and work backwards
  • Find comparable options and swap when possible
    • When we cut grains we used zucchini and yellow squash to make the same dishes. We dropped hamburger buns and put our burgers on a bed of salad.
  • Menu plan and shop less often (at least for a while)
    • We're not great about this, but we often shop for the first half of the week on Sunday afternoons. It forces us to focus on shopping a little less often and doesn't set us up for failure on one of those quick stops on the way home from work.
After a couple months you'll start to feel like your grocery store trips are more automatic. You'll be buying familiar things every week and maintaining your diet switch will be a lot easier. Give it a try. Good luck and happy eating.