When you’re looking to improve your eating habits be it for weight loss, training performance or in pursuit of getting back on your game energy-wise, the pressure and expectations we put on ourselves can often make it feel like there is no room for error.
Whatever your motivation – reward or purpose; the destination or the journey, it’s important to always keep in mind that consistency is more important than perfection. Here Natural Fitness Food’s Head of Nutrition Rachel Butcher gives 5 tips to make healthy eating as easy as possible for busy people.
Become supermarket savvy
Arm yourself with a shopping list every time you head to the supermarket/grocery store. It might seem blindingly obvious, but all meal prep begins with a good list. When planning the weekly shop make sure you’ve already planned everything you want to eat (meals and snacks) for the week ahead and write down only the necessary items for those meals.
Purchase only the items on your list to avoid trawling the aisles, grabbing items aimlessly – it’ll help you stick to your intentions as well as saving you time and money. That way, even during that mid-morning slump when the cravings start to kick in, you’ll have the considered meals and snacks that you bought with intention to hand. If it’s not in the cupboard then you can’t eat it!
Meal prep: Get it done in one
Preparing meals at home helps us to stick to our plan not only by avoiding having to navigate food labels or a takeaway menu for a healthy option but also by giving us the chance to tune into what goes into your meals. With the majority of us working from home at the moment, now is a great time to establish batch cooking as a positive habit – allocating one or two evenings or an afternoon a week to prepare food for the week ahead gives us more time in the weekday evenings to train, relax or get on with things you actually want to do rather than having to cook dinner every single night.
We’ve all been there when you finally escape from your desk later than planned, trying to make food decisions when we’re hungry coupled with the added challenge of having to find something to have for dinner. Meal prep is the ultimate solution to this scenario, and if you make the time this means cooking won’t feel like like a huge chore.
It may seem like a lot of work at first but once it becomes part of your weekly ritual, it makes opting for healthy options easy, affordable, practical and stress free. Organisation is a key component to consistency – start getting it done in one and you’ll reap the benefits now and when we’re back at work.
Don’t make any food off limits entirely
When you make food off limits, you’re opening yourself up to live in the all-or-nothing world and this is when you find yourself on the restrictive diet rollercoaster – plan your favourite foods into your way of eating, just be mindful of your portion sizes.
When you’re overly restrictive with yourself, research demonstrates that your mind doesn’t just know it, your body does too with increased cravings, desires, and wants, rather than needs.
Track progress over time
Setting a deadline is key to achieving any goal. Not only is it motivating, it also helps prioritise your daily actions. Pick an actual realistic date if you have a set goal in mind and diarise it.
While it’s important to celebrate wins along the way, it’s also important to have respect for the journey and the work that goes into your progress. If you feel like you’re not making progress fast enough, take a look at why – either you’ve got the wrong plan in place, or your expectations are unachievable. This is where sharing your goal with someone supportive is invaluable. Track progress over time so that you can aim for consistency rather than perfection.
When you’re positive and persistent, this is where change happens. It’s important to take time to pause, assess and reflect periodically with some objective markers, be it measurements, progress pictures or your energy levels. This period of assessment is helpful to avoid the temptation to move too fast and too far off track. If you’re not getting the results you want, what can you do differently?
Does it mean moving more? Eating more frequently? Getting more quality sleep? Reducing stress levels? Or even setting appropriate expectations? When you’re patient with the process and clear with your methods, you begin to refine and define your goals. Remember, organisation is a key component to consistency.
In conclusion, when you focus on the mindset, process, habits and routines, you lay the path to achieving your nutrition goals. It won’t come from what you do occasionally, it will only come from what you do consistently. Not perfectly, but consistently.