This is difficult.
I won’t lie – I have always had a real love-hate relationship with my food. For 1, healthy food leaves me feeling really good about myself but leaves my heart empty. 2, junk food makes me really happy but leaves me carrying a ton of guilt on my conscience.
Truth is, I am a stress-eater. The more life gets me down or I get loaded with work, the more my heart just wants the warmth of a Beef Bolognaise with extra cheese sauce (yesss….).
Throughout my entire fitness life, the one thing I have always struggled with is nutrition. I can easily work out 6 times a week plus all the extra daily sessions with my personal training clients. But all too often I will find myself stopped outside a takeout window on the way home and making the conscious decision to avoid all mirrors from that point on because of the utter shame I feel. But all that regret goes away with that first bite and then comes crashing back down as I throw away my takeout containers in the newly-formed line of fast food bags that read like the greatest hits from a ‘What Not to Eat for Abs’ list.
And as that fictional list would mention, abs are made in the kitchen. There is no amount of work that you can do in the gym that can make up for the majority of the day spent outside the gym filling up on sugar-laden and fat-filled foods. So over time, I’ve had to figure out how to have my food work with me for my goals and not against me. Here are a few tricks I’ve added up my sleeve to help me in this outright battle with my food:
- Get rid of it
I always say to my clients that it’s much easier to consume the unhealthy foods if they are staring at you each time you enter your kitchen. So clean up your cupboards and fridge and give away – and refrain from buying foods that you can’t help but over-eat.
- Don’t shop hungry
This I learned from experience: whenever I enter the grocery store hungry, I can convince myself to forget my hours in the gym and buy absolutely everything in sight. I mean, let’s be honest, the number of people who actively crave broccoli are very few and far between. The rest of us can only think of pizza when our tummies start grumbling. So make sure that you are full before you get into the store to reduce the temptation to leave with the entire ready-made and usually unhealthy food aisle.
- Get help
If you don’t live alone and it seems like the rest of the occupants in your house are just out to remind you of all the salt and sugar you are seemingly sadly missing out on, then ask them to keep their snacks in their rooms. Cooking healthier is also beneficial for anyone at any age so enlist their support in eating healthier as a family. Try and also find someone you can be accountable to who can motivate you and possibly tie you down when that donut-craze kicks in.
- Portion control
When treatmeal time comes or you just cannot hold off the craving any longer, opt for the mini version of whatever you are craving. Share a small pizza with a friend instead of eating a whole large dish by yourself or get just a small cheeseburger instead of the whole Big Mac. You’ll find that you can satisfy your craving without completely ruining your progress. While getting a full meal once in a while is not going to spoil everything, if you truly struggle with eating too much junk food, you’ll find that the singular over-indulgence quickly turns into 5.
- Make it yourself
My best and favourite trick for dealing with my fast food cravings is to make the meals myself. Firstly you can nix all those pesky ingredients like gherkins or mushrooms that you never want but are always too lazy to ask for to be removed from your burger (I can’t be alone in this..). Secondly, but most importantly, you can reduce the amount of harmful ingredients that are added to your favourite foods in store. And once you make the healthier version, you discover that you don’t actually miss that huge chunk of cheese on your pizza and that you can actually still feel satisfied without it.
So try these out and let me know if your relationship with food is mended back from disaster.