Staying on track

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Making healthy changes that become part of your lifestyle is the best way to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it, but sometimes it can be hard to stay on track. The Dietitians Association of Australia has some great strategies to help!

Plans and Goals | What to do when it gets tough | I’ve had a bad day and stopped my healthy eating plan, now what? | Helpful tools to help you stay on track

Plans and Goals

Make a plan and set some goals. Here are some tips to help you develop your plan:

Answer the following questions:

The main reasons I want to change are: (eg to be a healthy weight, to feel good, to be more active)

The changes I can make are: (eg choosing the right portions, eat more fruit and veg, walk to work, use healthy cooking methods like steaming and grilling)

The steps I will take to help make these changes are: (eg use smaller plates, park the car 30 minutes away from work and walk the rest of the way, buy a non-stick pan, limit cooking oil)

I will start making the change: (eg tomorrow, next Monday)

I will ask for help from: (eg my friend)

I will ask them to: (eg be supportive with the healthy changes I am making)

Situations that might make it difficult: (eg work functions or parties, limited time)

My plans for coping with difficult situations are: (eg choose smaller portions when out, bring a healthy snack with me, eat before a party)

I will judge my success by: (eg when I start to feel better, eating healthier foods, lowering my cholesterol, fit clothes better, weight loss)

When I achieve the change, I will tell myself: (eg how well I am doing with my change plan)

I will reward myself for being successful with: (eg do something that I find relaxing)

What to do when it gets tough

Identifying difficulties and barriers

There a number of difficulties and barriers you may face which make it difficult for you to stick to your healthy eating plan. It is important to have solutions or strategies ready to get around these. Here are some common difficulties or barriers and possible solutions:

Common difficulty or barrier

Possible Solution

Too little time
  • Get the support of a friend, partner or family member to help with daily activities, caring for children etc
  • Have pre-made healthy meals in the freezer ready for when you don’t have time to prepare a healthy meal
  • It’s great to get kids involved with cooking and shopping – get them to help with these jobs to save time
  • Make a list of jobs you need to do and add some activity/exercise into these jobs, for example, walk to the shops to pick up extra items like bread
  • Always make sure you have lots of healthy options in your home so you won’t be tempted by other foods.
Long working hours
  • Find someone at work to go for a walk with at lunchtime
  • Walk or ride to work
  • Park 30 minutes away from your work place and walk the rest of the way
  • Get off the bus one or more stops earlier and walk
  • Pack a healthy lunch to take with you
  • Take healthy snacks to your work to avoid unhealthy temptations that may be available at your work
  • Use the stairs in your building rather than the lift
  • Walk to deliver a message or to discuss a work issue rather than sending an email.
Comfort eating
  • Try to learn what situations cause you to ‘comfort eat’, for example, where you bored, sad or angry
  • Record the times when you ‘comfort eat’ in a food diary to help you spot these situations
  • Make a list of things you can do other than eat when these situations arise. For example if you eat when your hands are bored, buy a stress ball to play with.
Social pressures If you only eat out once or twice a month then your healthy eating plan will cope if you indulge a little. But if you eat out often then use these tips to stay on track with your healthy eating plan:

  • Add fruits and vegetables in you menu choice
  • Choose lean meats
  • Skip the sugary soft drinks and alcohol and choose water, diet soft drinks or fresh juice
  • Choose an entrée size
  • Check the restaurant website before you go to see if they have any nutrition information or ask the waiter/waitress how menu items are cooked
  • Ask for sauces and dressings to be served on the side
  • Listen to your stomach, eat slowly and stop when you’re full – don’t feel that you have to eat the whole serving – ask for a doggy bag
  • Share a dessert with a friend if you can’t resist
  • Ask for healthy options like no butter on the veggies – most places are happy to help
  • Ask for extra side serves of vegetables or salad
  • Plan before you go and choose a restaurant you know has healthy choices
  • Why not walk to the restaurant?
  • Always carry healthy foods with you so you are not left in with only unhealthy food items.
  • Limit the amount you see tempting foods so place unhealthy food out of sight
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry
  • Take the route home that doesn’t pass tempting food shops
  • Make a list of alterative activities that make it impossible to give in to urges or cravings.

Some ideas include:

  • Going for a walk
  • Reading a book or magazine
  • Phoning a friend
  • Cleaning the car
  • Painting
  • Playing a board game
  • Listen to music
  • Have a relaxing bath
  • If you have a craving try just a little bit of that food to stop the craving but don’t over indulge.

Decide which strategies will work best for you and put your plan into action TODAY!

I’ve had a bad day and stopped my healthy eating plan, now what do I do?

Don’t let a small lapses become a relapse. To stop yourself going back to your unhealthy habits when you have a small lapse, try these tips:

Stop: Take yourself away from the situation and think about what happened

Say: It’s not a disaster – one error doesn’t mean the end of the world

Learn: What was going on before the lapse? Think about the situation to see why it happened

Plan: What can be done in the same situation to stop another lapse? Use the ideas above to plan in ahead. Put your plan into practice straight away

Be positive: Always look over your goals and think about why you want change – don’t lose sight of the bigger picture

Ask: Is there anything that can be done to make up for the slip? For example, do some more exercise. But don’t skip your next meal; instead keep on track with your meals as planned.

Rewarding yourself

When you have achieved your healthy lifestyle change goals, congratulate yourself for every small step taken. You may also like to reward yourself on a regular basis with non-food rewards. By rewarding yourself you are more likely to continue with your healthy lifestyle changes. Some ideas for non-food rewards include:

  • Buy yourself a small thing you want
  • Do something you find relaxing
  • Enjoy a fun activity you have always wanted to do

Helpful tools to help you stay on track

AHWW food and exercise record and instructions

7 day meal plan

Shopping list for meal plan

Recipes – see ‘Smart Eating for You’ on the DAA website

Progress chart