Note: I should have just called this post “The Way I Eat” because now, having seen the final blog, it really is all my moderation tips and tricks in one place. I use all of these tactics to navigate my eating and use mindfulness and self-trust and an abundance mindset to make great choices wherever I end up. It’s taken me 4 years to get there, but with a lot of mindset work, I’ve successfully made the switch from crazy all-or-nothing dieter to sustainable fat loss lifestyle-r :)
“Frappuccino or bust.”
I used this phrase a lot in my Food Obsession Boot Camp a few months ago to illustrate the mental games that we play when it comes to eating. Specifically, that we often view moderation as “failure” and by doing so, feel the need to EITHER be 100% clean, tight and on point OR say eff it, and go ALL IN on sweets and treats.
An example would be having a craving for a frappuccino. We would all agree that getting a huge frap with whip is going ALL IN, right? And the alternative (tight, clean as a whistle) is a plain black coffee. Some may love that, but for most—yuck.
WHY can’t we give ourselves permission to have something in the middle? Something that will be *satisfying* but not ALL IN and not total deprivation? Making this choice consistently can help us stay the course and skip the extreme approaches altogether.
I get a cafe Americano with cream and alternative sweetener.
This is a compromise. It’s an alternative to the black-and-white dieting mindset.
Finding a mid-range solution is not failure, it’s smart strategy.
Because we know that the more we feel deprived, the greater we’ll binge later. Eating is not on-or-off. It’s not black-and-white. It’s not all-or-nothing. It’s not frappuccino or bust.
There *is* a solution, and it’s taking the middle road :)
Below are 8 easy switches to make that close that gap between going “all in” and depriving yourself to the point of misery. Remember, 7 days a week of 90% tight will always beat 4 days clean as a whistle, followed by 3 days of straight-binging, for both results AND sanity.
1) Dining out entrees:
Instead of having to go all in because “it’s a special occasion” could you take a step back, stay mindful, remember your goals and find a way to just shoot for satisfaction instead? Some of my fav options: Huge #BAS with toppings that satisfy, like marinated protein on top, a sprinkle of cheese, bacon or avocado or a dressing that you enjoy (i.e. don’t force yourself to use lemon juice or plain balsamic vinegar if you don’t absolutely love those). Find my #BAS suggestions do’s and don’t here. Also, choose any protein dish, with double veggies. This may sound anticlimactic, but honestly, when someone else is cooking your protein and veggies, they end up tasting A LOT better than at home. So what if they have sodium, or sauces or a little butter? Seriously. When we need everything to be so super “clean or else,” that’s when we get in trouble with feeling deprived. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good–steak with sauce on top is A THOUSAND times better every time than grilled chicken one day and then an entire plate of brownies all weekend long.
You have to pick and choose your nutrition battles.
2) Dining out appetizers:
Again, don’t do the all-or-nothing thing. Find a middle ground that’s not super over-the-top, but that also satisfies you. So, yes, skip the bread and potato skins, and do protein, dietary fat or veggie-based apps instead, like wings, chicken skewers, charcuterie, shrimp cocktail or veggies with dip. These take the edge off without going overboard.
3) Alcoholic beverages:
Okay okay, you gals know that I love an adult bevie every once in a blue moon ;) and so how to you navigate the middle road with these? First, if I know I am going to have a couple cocktails, I will adjust my eating earlier in the day and/or within the same meal. For example, I’ll skip the starches and definitely desserts, and then I’ll also monitor portion sizes a little more closely. I don’t ever deprive, but I might lengthen time between meals or even put a protein bar in place of a full-on meal. Nothing crazy, just mindful. This way, when I indulge, I am not adding on top of my usual consumption, I am trading. Red wine of course is probably the healthiest with its bioflavanoids, and white wine has been shown to lower compensatory hunger compared to other alcohol beverages. You’ll want to skip altogether the sugary mixers and cocktails, and if you are doing to do booze, drink it with soda or seltzer (hello, limes!). Dark beer is usually better than lighter because it helps suppress the appetite somewhat because of the bitters, and I don’t know about you, but if I drink a Guinness, I have very little room for food–it’s like eating a loaf of bread! Do your best because that’s all you can do.
Many people swear by cheat meals or “refeeds” or whatever, and go balls-out. After doing that for years and always feeling disgusting afterwards and then feeling as if I need to “burn them off” or “earn them” every week by being super strict, I gave them up completely and started eating moderately 7 days a week–I never feel deprived and I also never crave full-on desserts anymore. The goal with desserts is to move from NEEDING TO EAT IT ALL to being able to literally take 3 bites and be good. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me :) And that’s how I felt too when I started practicing mindfulness and moderation, but it can be done! Jade uses his 3 Bites of Dessert Rule. It’s a practice in building your willpower and in learning to eat moderately. To do it, you order dessert every single time you dine out, whether you really want it or not. And then you take 3 bites of it, then put your napkin over it and have the server take it away. A lot of people would comment that this is wasteful, but honestly, I think what’s worse is making yourself unhealthy because you felt like you needed to finish it so as to not “waste” a few bucks. AND, it also teaches you how it feels to eat moderately–the more you practice that experience, the more “normal” it becomes. Learn how to take 3 bites, enjoying the hell out of them and then be good. Over time, it works!
5) BBQs or dinner parties:
Similar to dining out, but here I want you to not stress about “what will there be for me to eat?” ahead of time. Why? Because that only makes you super anxious and impacts your choices because stress has effects too. Instead, I want you to TRUST YOURSELF to figure it out when you get there. Guidelines include any/all proteins. I don’t care if it’s burgers, hot dogs, sausages, wings, whatever. Eat them freely, just skip those buns. Focus on vegetable sides, even if they have butter or sauces. Salads are great, as are raw veggies and dip. Yes, even Ranch dressing! Remember: don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, and honestly, if you are able to dip your carrots in Ranch, will you be MORE or LESS likely to feel satisfied? More, right? And you’ll be LESS likely to need dessert. It’s a balance. If there’s cheese and crackers, I eat the cheese. Meat plates, great. Chips and salsa? Take a spoon to the salsa or guac. Not kidding! Is this perfect? No! But that is the whole point–perfect gets you into trouble, so throw yourself a bone and you’ll be less likely to REALLY binge later. If all you do is eat some cheese, well, it could be way worse, so give yourself the win.
6) Coffee shops:
Remember, you don’t need a frappuccino to feel satisfied. Get one of those if you want to be on the toilet the rest of the day O_o. But you also don’t need to do a plain, black coffee either. How about an americano or drip coffee with cream and sweetener? Lattes are not my fav because those are more like a meal with how much milk they contain, so I recommend adding cream instead because you’ll need less. As for foods, get the breakfast sandwich and just toss the bread–cheese, sausage and egg? No problem. If you’re going to oatmeal, fine but skip the sugary add-ons. Sandwiches are fine too, just skip the bread and go for the fruit cups instead of the scones (yes, even the low-fat ones). My fav quickie breakfast is an americano with cream and sweetener and a protein bar I brought from my house. Better than situationally eating something I know I’ll regret later.
7) Airplanes or travel:
Over the last year and a half, I’ve traveled every single month, and so I’ve had to get good at making choices, which I make with regard for my goals and lifestyle, rather than decisions, which take into account my environment and situations. When you travel, you have to get your mind right around sticking with what you know to be healthy, regardless of what’s happening around you. THIS IS TOUGH! For plane snacks, I always ALWAYS pick the peanuts or nothing. Still satisfying but not all-the-way-in. Airports, I try to find somewhere I can get a salad (don’t care about toppings or dressing–I do my best and I work on being satisfied), even most pubby-type places will have a salad. And if not, Mexican food usually allows for you to get fajitas without the tortilla. Add salsa and guac, and it’s totally yummy. Flying a red eye–to eat or not to eat? I usually fast, or have a protein bar, here’s why. Tons of water to stay hydrated and keep cravings at bay.
8) Snacks on the go:
I get this question a lot because many healthy snack options are not really travel-friendly, like proteins and eggs. And I agree. I hate cooking, I hate prepping and I definitely hate traveling with cold, disgusting, smelly proteins in containers (no thanks!). My fav on-the-go snacks are protein bars (Quest, BioTrust, Think Thin, Power Crunch and Atkins). You can also do food-based bars like Epic bars or Tanka bars. Nuts, fruit and jerky work too. MAKE THIS EASY ON YOURSELF. No one wants to make hard-boiled eggs and carry them around in a plastic baggie and peel them into a trashcan at work. Noooooo! Plus, the middle road is enjoyable and satisfying. Not inconvenient and depriving.
As evidenced by the Ranch dressing and vodka sodas I am suggesting you consume, this is what a real lifestyle plan looks like :)
It’s not hardcore, and it’s not “all in” on sweets and treats. You can’t live a stress and shame-free life if you are constantly playing the on-or-off dieting game. I am just “onf” all the time. Moderation, although it sounds vague and even sometimes like a “failure,” it’s really actually success because it’s a forever lifestyle.
Have at the black-and-white thing if you want to keep struggling, but if you’re ready to find a sustainable way to eat without “program jumping,” or needing a new meal plan every 6 months, finding a way to feel satisfied (not stuffed!) is paramount.
So much of successfully making this switch from all-or-nothing to sustainable and steadfast has to do with how you THINK about the process. Are you in a hurry or are you in it for the long haul? Are you able to mess up and learn, or do you crumble at the first sight of a slip-up? How resilient can you be? Can you give yourself the benefit of the doubt and trust that you are doing your best in every moment, even when you are not perfect? Can you make progress and see that as a win? Or are you Frappuccino or bust?
Some tweetables for you: