I’ve been talking about my Whole 30 successes and what a difference it has made in my life, my health and home. Whole 30 has made it possible to have the energy I need to accomplish my goals, including making my home a haven.
Doing an eating plan can be challenging, especially if others in your family are not following it too. Today I’m sharing the things that are essential to my success in staying on a healthy eating plan:
Number one – Write out my “Why”. Why eat a healthy diet and say no to certain foods? My number one “Why” for taking care of my health is my family. I want to have the energy to be able to make our home a haven. I want to be around to see my grandchildren (we didn’t start having kids until our late 30’s). Secondly, I have a lot of goals and dreams I want to pluck off the shelf and DO something about. For this, I need my health and energy.
- Plan ahead – planning is not one of my strengths, but doing Whole 30/ Paleo pushes me to to it, in a good way. It really helps for me to look at a big calendar of the month on paper (I like the desktop size), and look at all the holidays, birthdays, events, date nights etc. coming up. Then I decide ahead of time what my plan is. Will I make a paleo dessert for a holiday, will I allow myself a day where I go off-plan, or will I stay the course? Deciding ahead of time puts me in the driver’s seat going into the month and helps me avoid last-minute, impulse decisions that may derail my best intentions.
- Have planned exceptions days – I talked about this a bit on yesterday’s blog. I’ve allowed myself a few days where I can go off-plan. This gives my brain a place to go when I reeallly want something off-plan. I just remind myself I can have it, but I have to wait. But on the other hand………
- …….Be careful about making exceptions – some exceptions are fine and provide some welcome variety and a treat. Other times, an exception to the plan can be a trigger for a landslide into old habits. It’s really important to know the difference, and this requires some trial and error, and some stumbles and getting back up. For me, I’m coming off a long history of sugar addiction, so I have to be very careful with even natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, as these can very quickly take me back to my raging sugar cravings and bad habits.
- Communicate with your spouse or significant other– It really helps to keep my husband in the loop on my eating plan. Even though Andy is not on a paleo / Whole 30 plan, he also eats whole foods and loves to grill. Most of the things he makes, with a few exceptions, are on my plan. Bonus, he’s rotated some of my paleo cookbook recipes into his meal plans, so he’s making paleo/ Whole 30 foods for me! The other night, he made me “chocolate” stuffed dates, which was from a paleo recipe made from carob powder, honey and dates. It was a perfect treat.
- Don’t expect anyone to join you – as Melissa Hartwig, Whole 30 founder said at her recent book signing, “Lead by quiet example.” Don’t proselytize your diet plan. Expecting others to “get religion” about your healthy eating plan is asking for stress and trouble. As Melissa said, “You do you.” Words to live by. I’ve found a surprise benefit is that my family does overall end up eating better because I’m trying new paleo recipes on them (that I think they’ll like), and I’m not bringing home sweets and other things I used to.
- Don’t bring it in the house. Don’t buy stuff you don’t want to eat for your kids or spouse. Try to find healthy alternatives that they will enjoy. I buy organic mac n’ cheese for my daughter, but I’m not stocking my freezer with ice cream “for her.” It’s too easy, too accessible. Also, if you do end up buying something tempting, put it in the freezer so it’s not as ready to eat. (other than ice cream! J ), or take a portion and take the rest to work and give it away. You think you will be strong, but that weak moment will come.
- Don’t go to old haunts. I have to avoid driving past a bakery I love that makes fresh pastries on-site. Also, it may be better to try a new restaurant rather than going to an old one where you will feel deprived if you can’t order a favorite stand-bye (or save it for a planned exception day).
- Try not to think in terms of “all or nothing” – sometimes it’s easy for me to think, “Well, I’ve already eaten something off my plan, so I might as well have ___________________ (fill in the blank). But two wrongs don’t make a right and every bite that you don’t take of sugar or other less-than-healthy foods is a bite your body doesn’t have to process. Every no is a yes to staying on track!!
- Where possible, get enough sleep and reduce stress. Less sleep and more stress both increase your levels of cortisol, which is called “the hungry hormone”. Stress and little sleep can easily have you ranging like a bear for carbs and foods off your plan.
- Brush your teeth – I loved this idea from Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better than Before.” Gretchen says she brushes her teeth after dinner to help her get to bed on time and avoid late-night munchies.
- And on that note – read great books and websites that fuel you toward your goals. The information and resources available for eating a healthy non-inflammatory diet are rich and abundant if you know where to look. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Read Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin – Great book on building habits, including healthy eating habits. See which of the four tendencies you have (are you an obliger, a rebel, a questioner or an upholder?) The answer may steer you to some effective strategies for maintaining your health plan!
- Food Freedom Forever by Whole 30 founder Melissa Hartwig – this book and the Whole 30 website (whole30.com) are chockfull of practical tips – like knowing and identifying your triggers for sliding off-plan and how to stay on-plan when traveling.
- Books and websites by paleo and gluten-free authors: Google and search on instagram for Danielle Walker, “The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook” by Diana Rodgers, Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam.
- Look at paleo and Whole 30 websites and use Pinterest to save yummy looking recipes. Google and Pinterest are your friends.
- Find your community – Make new friends online who are also working to eat healthfully. Follow Whole30 and Paleo folks on Instagram. Here are some Instagram accounts I follow for encouragement and recipe ideas:
- @revelationwellness (faith-based)
- Accountability is key! Find someone who also wants to do a healthy eating plan and hold each other accountable. I did Whole 30 with my sister and also started an online mini-blog on Instagram to journal through my 30 days on Whole 30. This kept me very accountable – because it’s awkward to report “Day 3” five days after “Day 2”. It also really helps to be open about what you are trying to do with those around you. For example, explain to coworkers or friends why you are choosing to not eat cake. For the most part, people will absorb this information about you and get to where they won’t offer you things off your plan, even sometimes helping to hold you accountable (e.g., “I thought you didn’t eat donuts.”)
These are some of the ways I stay on my Whole 30/ paleo plan. It really is so fun and rewarding especially with the numerous resources we have available today.
What are some things that help you stay on track?