I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary of quitting junk food and eating a healthier diet. Like most people, I had tried to step away from the fun-size chocolate bars and mega-size junk portions many times and failed. But this dive into a healthier me stuck, and I’d like to share the top 10 things that made this positive change to the way I eat a success, while others lie buried under a mound of takeout packages.
10 Tips To Give Up Junk Food And Eat A Healthier Diet
1. Be Absolutely And Totally Committed. When I look back at my numerous failed attempts to cut the crap, I realise that I was only really half into it. I wanted to do it, but there was always a niggling voice in the back of my mind that told me I would fail. I didn’t have a plan, didn’t write down any goals, didn’t tell anybody (apart from Mr Chic) and was convinced of my failure before I’d even blasted my first smoothie.
This time I really thought about why I wanted to walk the health route and how I was going to do it. I put together my own Not This Weigh, That Way healthy eating plan, wrote everything down, told my family and friends, gave myself rewards and even started The Barefaced Chic to blog about the change healthy living has made to me and the way I live my life. I committed myself completely, and there was no turning back. By doing this I made it really difficult to fail.
2. Be Aware Of Your Motivation. When the urge to stuff yourself with the nearest family-size pizza hits (and it will), it’s very easy to listen to your mind as it rationalises; “Just a few slices. What’s the harm?” You’ll quickly forget why you’re doing this. The answer is to really think about why you want to kick the crap before you start down the health route. Think about every reason you have to live a healthier life, then list them out. Make a printout and stick it where you’ll see it every day – it’s a great reminder when the urge to have a blowout hits.
3. Plan Ahead. It’s no good getting up one morning and saying, “Right cupboard full of junk food, I’m gonna quit you today!” You need to prepare yourself and plan it out. It’s all very well emptying the house of junk (see tip #5), but then what are you going to eat? A jar of pickles washed down with a glass of milk? You need to fill your cupboards, fridge and freezer with a good supply of healthy food options. You’ll be far more likely to succeed if you don’t have to walk around a supermarket avoiding all the food your craving. I’d suggest doing a healthy food shop before you start, purchase enough produce to last at least a full week. If you’ve planned your meals, you’ll be able to follow your list of ingredients and whiz around the supermarket filling your trolley with goodness.
4. Don’t Put It Off. I know this may sound contradictory to the previous tip but, “I’ll start on Monday” “I’ll just finish off what’s in the cupboards / fridge” “I’m going out next week so I’ll start the day after” are all excuses. When you decide to start, start! Making your plans should only take a day or two, throw in a supermarket shop and there’s no reason not to start on your quest for a healthier you within three days of making the decision to do so.
The only caveats I would add at this point are these: please, please, please do not start on a health program if (a) you are feeling at all unwell, or (b) you are going through a particularly stressful time in you life. Your body will be going through changes, all for the better but changes nonetheless. You will find it much harder to stick to your guns if your fighting with your metabolism. I would also suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start – check me out, I sound like a professional :)
5. Empty Your Cupboards Of Crap. No matter how strong your willpower is, there will be times when the urge to cram a whole tub of ice-cream down your throat becomes the only thought that permeates through your sugar deprived brain. Your body is like any other living, intelligent organism; it learns. If you give it what it really needs and not what it thinks it wants, it will soon adapt and flourish. However, there will be times when your body turns into a metaphorical two year old child. It will stamp its feet and demand that you give it it, “sweeties NOW!” If your home is only full of the good stuff and you give it natural, nourishing snacks instead it will soon calm down – promise!
6. Reward Yourself. Set up a plan of the rewards you will reap when you get to the end of Week 1 and Week 2, then Month 1 and Month 2. Definitely reward yourself at the 6 Month and 1 Year mark. Make them good rewards (in the early stages I would stay away from food related rewards), that you’ll look forward to: books, CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, shoes, a massage, a hotel stay … whatever you can afford. Even better, take whatever you would have spent on junk food each day, and put it in a jar. This is your Rewards Jar. Go crazy! Celebrate your every success! You deserve it.
7. Delay It. If you find yourself craving junk then wait. Do the following things: take 10 deep breaths. have a drink of water, go for a walk, ring a friend – DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, BUT DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. You will make it through it, and the urge will go away. When it does, celebrate! Take it one urge at a time, and you can do it.
8. Replace Negative Habits with Positive Ones. What do you do when you’re stressed? If you currently react to stress by eating junk food, you’ll need to find something else to do. Deep breathing, self massage of your neck and shoulders and exercise can work wonders. Other habits, such as what you do first thing in the morning, or what you do in the car, or wherever you usually snack on crap, should be replaced with better, more positive ones.
9. If You Fall, Get Up. Learn From Your Mistakes. We all fail, but that does not mean we are failures, or that we will never succeed. If you fall, it’s not the end of the world. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again. I failed numerous times before succeeding. But you know what? Each of those failures taught me something. Yep, I sometimes repeated the same mistakes several times, but eventually I (and my body) learned. If you can figure out what your obstacles to success are, plan to overcome them in your next quit of the crap. And don’t wait a few months until your next, first step on the journey to health. Give yourself a few days to plan and prepare, commit fully, and go for it!
10: THINK POSITIVE. For me, this is the most important tip of all. So, like all the best things, I saved it for last. If you have a positive, can-do attitude, as corny as it may sound, you will be far more likely to succeed. Trust me, It works. Tell yourself that you can do it, and you will. Tell yourself that you can’t do it, and you definitely won’t. When things get rough, think positive! You CAN make it through the urge. I did and so have millions of others. We are no better than you – In my case I’m probably worse, just ask my mother :)
Here’s to a healthier, happier you!