Staying on track: dealing with temptation and strategies for success

Staying on track with a healthy eating plan can be tricky. We all ‘fall off the wagon’ from time to time, it’s totally normal.

It’s how we deal with slip-ups and lapses that’s important. Obviously, your mindset is a key factor.

So is making healthy eating part of your lifestyle, instead of being on or off a ‘diet.’ Seriously!

Chicken and vegetables in a glass casserole dish about to go in the oven

Diets don’t work 

Not long term, anyway. I’ve said it many times already and I’ll keep saying it until everyone gets it! The biggest reason is that most ‘diets’ simply aren’t sustainable for very long.  

Of course you will have some short-term success when you cut out food groups, or reduce how much you eat of certain foods, because it generally means that you’ve created a negative energy balance.

Unfortunately, though, most fad diets require you to make changes to your eating habits that just aren’t realistic, and that’s when you slip-up and ultimately, give up.

Eat good food most of the time

The truth is that if you want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, you need a diet plan that you can follow for the rest of your life. I’m using the dictionary definition here of the word diet, which is “the kind of food that a person, animal or community habitually eats.”  

In a nutshell, staying on track is easier when you eat a balanced diet of mostly real, whole foods, and allow yourself treats sometimes.

Nobody’s perfect, you will have slip-ups and lapses.. As I said earlier, it just means you’re human, like the rest of us!  

If you’re armed with the right tools, you’ll be able to confidently deal with distractions and temptations when they occur.  

You’ll learn to forgive yourself and move on. Actually, sometimes, you’ll even plan for it!

"Nobody's perfect. Don't give up just because you slipped up." quote

Avoiding Temptation in Social Situations

Here are the best strategies I’ve found to deal with social situations and the possibility of bingeing or overeating. It is going to happen, so you need to know how to cope and move forward.

The most important thing after a lapse is not to use it as an excuse to give up. Forgive yourself and don’t feel guilty or remorseful.

Instead of beating yourself up, learn from the experience by taking note of what happened and why, so you can be more confident next time.

1.  The stop technique

Stop and think before you eat! Take a moment and remind yourself that you have a choice. Ask yourself some questions, like “do I really want to eat this?” or “will I be happy with myself afterwards if I eat this?”
If you decide that you really do want to eat the food, then go ahead. Give yourself permission – have a small serving and really savour it and enjoy it – then move on without feeling guilty.

2.  Polite Refusal – Just Say No

Remember that it’s okay to say no in social situations (when you want to) and you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if you do it respectfully and assertively. For example, you can politely refuse dessert by saying something like “I really enjoyed my meal/dinner and I’m actually full, thank you. Maybe next time?” Or ask if you can take some home for later. Be genuine and offer a compliment.

3.  Eat Before You Go

Eating normally before you attend an event or function works best to ensure you don’t overeat. Don’t make the mistake of not eating through the day to save your appetite or calories – it’ll usually backfire.
If you’re satisfied instead of starving, you’ll be able to indulge in one or two small things and feel that you’ve had enough.

4.  Avoiding Alcohol

If you have trouble stopping at one alcoholic drink, but you really want to go out with your friends, then offer to be the designated driver.  Make sure that you stay away from the soft drinks though, which are full of sugar. Try soda or mineral water with lemon or lime slices.

5.  Be Prepared with Snacks

Like a good boy scout, if you plan ahead, you’ll have a much greater chance of success. Always have a healthy snack like a piece of fruit, some nuts, or an energy bar in your bag or car for when you need it.
Then if you’re out longer than intended, or something happens unexpectedly, you won’t be tempted to buy something you wouldn’t normally choose.


Or try these BLISS BALLS

Wendy walking along a track beside the beach

Distraction from bad habits

Sometimes you might simply need a distraction to occupy your thoughts until a craving goes away, because you’re not actually hungry, you’re bored Or maybe you’ve developed a comfortable habit, like mindless snacking while watching TV after dinner.

Chances are that you had plenty to eat for dinner and you’re not hungry at all, it’s just become a habit. I’m talking about the biscuits, chocolate, or chips/crisps that come out after dinner when you’re watching telly.

If this is a habit you have that you’d like to stop, the easiest thing to do is distract yourself with something else. A lot of women say that giving themselves a manicure or painting their nails works brilliantly, as you simply can’t eat with wet nail polish!

Brushing your teeth when you’ve finished eating is another good one that a lot of people like to use. You won’t want to eat after you’ve just brushed your teeth.

Or you could learn a new hobby like knitting, crochet or needlepoint, something that can be done comfortably while sitting in front of the telly.  

Instead of mindlessly munching on junk, you’ll keep your hands occupied and learn a valuable new skill. I once had a client who knits squares for a local charity scheme that make blankets for homeless people – what a great idea, huh?

11 easy distractions

Here’s a list of some simple distractions; just find one or two techniques that you think will work for you, or be creative and make up your own!

1. Go for a walk

2. Make a phone call, text or visit someone

3. Pamper yourself – a hair treatment, manicure, pedicure,  facial, etc  

4. Take up a hobby like knitting, painting, writing, jewellery making, jigsaw puzzles, etc

5. Do some housework

6. Do some gardening

7. Do some exercise or put on some music and dance

8. Make time to do some yoga, stretching or foam rolling

9. Sort out your bills, or to-do list

10. Sort out your wardrobe

11. Brush your teeth    

I hope these tips help. Pin the images for later, or download to save to your phone.

Download this fact sheet

Summary of "how to avoid overeating" strategies

Download this list of ideas

List of simple distractions to use to break bad eating habits
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