10 Healthy Eating Challenges That Affect Us All and How to Conquer Them
Life is busy and times are tough. Motivation is fleeting and temptations are everywhere. We’re always on-the-go and are trying to maintain our social lives amid everything else that demands our attention. Ay yi yi!
Only a few years ago, I was living off a highly processed diet. I was struggling in every sense and always burning the candle at both ends. But some eye-opening moments forced me to seriously reconsider my lifestyle. Over the years, I have been making small changes that have all added up to a healthier, happier me. By no means am I perfect—nobody is. But I’ve sure come a long way and I’m so excited to share with you what I’ve learned.
Here are the top 10 eating healthy challenges that affect us, all along with tips and motivation on how to overcome them.
1. I don’t have enough time.
If you set aside time at the beginning of the week to meal plan and do a bit of prep, you will actually save yourself a ton of time throughout the week. Select super simple meals that take minimal time and use minimal ingredients. My go-to’s are smoothies, large tossed salads, and casseroles that I can divide into single serving containers and eat for weeks. “Dump dinners” are a saving grace when short on time.
If meal planning just isn’t your thing, there are other solutions. Look into grocery or meal delivery services that will bring everything right to your doorstep. And get to know the prepared foods counter at your local grocery store. Most have a section with delicious, nourishing pre-made meals all set to grab on-the-go.
Source: Yummy Mummy Kitchen
2. I don’t have enough money.
Buying your own food instead of eating out will save you a ton of money. Even on the healthy stuff! Purchase what’s on sale, re-purpose leftovers, buy in bulk, and opt for cheaper non-animal sources of protein like chickpeas and lentils. Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season or buy them frozen to save some serious cash.
Also, plan and buy groceries for only two days at a time so you are only buying what you need. This way you won't feel anxious about using everything before it goes bad. I actually took a deep dive in a previous article on how to eat healthy on a budget. You can read it here.
3. I don’t have the motivation for an overhaul.
We all have personal reasons for wanting to live a healthier life. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be reading this! It goes much deeper than “I want to lose weight” or “I want to have more energy.” Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to have more energy? Focus on the why and let this drive you. Another scientifically proven way to stay motivated? Visualize the outcome. What will it look like if you achieve your health goals? What will it look like if you don’t achieve them? It can also be motivating to make your health commitment public. Announce it to your friends, family, or even on social media. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals and help each other stay accountable. The key to succeeding long-term is to set small, achievable short-term goals instead of extravagant goals that will leave you feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.
4. It feels hard to be healthy and maintain a social life. (Most social gatherings involve eating out or drinking and I don’t want to be a dud.)
I hear you. There’s always going to be some social outing on your calendar. But these events should not be used as an excuse to make unhealthy decisions and then feeling like crap. When going out, always set limits in advance. Know how many drinks you are OK with and scope out the menu in advance to make a solid healthy choice. Treat yourself when you feel like it. The occasional indulgence isn’t going to make or break you! It’s all about balance.
As for being a dud: If anyone has issues with you trying to eat healthier, it's their problem, not yours. People who make comments about other people’s choices often feel insecure or disappointed about their own habits. Try not to take it personally. Acknowledge you are making the right balanced decisions for you and shake it off.
Source: Half Baked Harvest
5. I really love food.
This is both awesome and perfectly normal. You should love food! Food is fuel and you need it to live and thrive. So why do we feel like it's a bad thing to love food? Well, the diet industry has made us feel that in order to live a healthy life, we can’t enjoy food and we need to diet and deprive ourselves. I’m here to tell you: This is false. Instead of focusing on the foods you shouldn't have, focus on incorporating whole and healthy foods you do love. Eat intuitively. For me, this means lots of sweet potato, nut butters, banana, and avocado toast. These things make me feel full, energized, and fulfill my deep love for food! Don't deprive yourself. Balance your indulgences along with a healthy lifestyle.
6. I have trouble avoiding unhealthy snacks around the office.
You have the best of intentions to eat healthy but then it’s your colleague's birthday and next thing you know there is cake galore in the kitchen. First thing’s first: There is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging. But if treats around your office are more than just an occasional thing, be prepared to dodge the junk food around the office.
First, avoid getting over hungry. Once you get over hungry, your willpower is shot and it’s game over. Ensure you always have a few high fiber, high protein snacks on hand (like almonds or trail mix) to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Then you'll be much less likely to reach for that second slice of cake.
Second, stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water is the key to keeping hunger in check.
Last but not least, stay calm. Stress often triggers mindless eating. When you start to feel stressed, get up and go for a walk around the block instead of eating. Changing your environment is great for getting those visions of cake out of your head!
Source: Sincerely Jules
7. I travel a lot—things expire and I don’t have the luxury of packing snacks.
Scope out travel destinations in advance. Is there a grocery store nearby where you can stock up on staples like bottled water, fruits, and veggies? Or try using an app (like TripAdvisor or Yelp) to search for restaurants that offer healthy options. Search for terms like vegan, vegetarian, organic, healthy, or farm-to-table. If your hotel offers freebies like a continental breakfast opt for the hard boiled eggs and fruit before a muffin.
And last but not least, don’t stress about food perfection while travelling. This will just breed unhealthy, negative thoughts and harm your relationship with food. Just do the best you can with what you’ve got.
8. I work long hours and am too exhausted to cook a healthy meal (or even think about working out).
Alright. Let’s sit down and have a little heart-to-heart here. If you want to live a long and happy life, you need to make eating well and moving your body a priority. Sacrificing health for the sake of your job is short sighted and self-destructive. You are not doing yourself any favors. If you feel stuck in a vicious cycle of being over-tired, unproductive, and unhappy, it's time to make some changes. What is one small thing you can change right now to break the cycle? Perhaps you can shut down one hour earlier each day in order to get to a fitness class. Or maybe you can subscribe to a grocery delivery service so you have fresh ingredients at home waiting for you after a long day. Bottom line: Make yourself a priority.
9. I want to start being “healthy” but I don’t know where to begin.
As much as you want to have the perfect diet right off the bat, it just doesn’t work that way. Eating habits are a deeply personal thing, and they take time to change. Start small. Focus on incorporating real food. If you are used to eating a cookie in the afternoon, swap it out for a banana with almond butter. If you drink two diet sodas every day, swap one out for a bottle of water. Being healthy is a marathon, not a sprint. As you continue to make small changes day-by-day, they will add up to big changes over time. I promise.
Source: Studio DIY
10. I’m addicted to sugar and wine.
Whether it’s a sugary afternoon treat or an evening extra large glass (or two) of wine, we all have our hard-to-kick vices, even when we know the negative effects they have on our mood, energy, sleep, and weight. We often indulge in sugar and wine for pleasure and escape. But here’s the thing: There are many things that can help you achieve the same result. Try detoxing from your day with an activity, not food. A phone call with a girlfriend, a power nap, or switching off your phone and playing with your pet are all activities that will help you de-stress. Yes, we're all going to need the post-work wine or celebration cookie at some point, but if you find yourself turning to them more often than not, it's time to assess what may be fueling this need.
Also, pay attention to when these addictions tend to take hold. For me, it was usually at 2 p.m. in the afternoon or right after dinner. Once I realized my triggers, I started developing strategies like scheduling my meetings or appointments in the afternoon to keep myself occupied or moving my morning workout to the evening to break the cycle.