We all have a relationship with food. Some of us have a healthy relationship, as in, we eat the right balance of nutrients in the right portions at the right time.
Others of us have a less than truly healthy relationship with the things we eat. We eat the wrong things; we prefer junk food to vegetables and meats. We eat at the wrong time, or we seem to eat all the time. Let’s not even discuss portions. After all, we grew up hearing things like, “Clean your plate if you want dessert,” or, “Waste not, want not.” Some of us even heard, “Your mother worked hard on that dinner. You better eat every bite.”
As we age, we experience many changes in our life. Our bodies change as we get older, and sometimes that means our relationship with food must change as well. Some of us are told we need to lose a certain amount of weight. Others may get an unexpected medical diagnosis. When those things occur, we often receive advice to change our dietary habits.
Eating on a restrictive diet may seem like an impossible task, but it you follow these tips, you might find it isn’t as difficult as it initially seems.
Focus On The Things You Can Eat
When we are told to make dietary changes, it is human nature to focus on the items we need to eliminate. That sets us up to look at any change in a negative way.
Instead, we should look at our new eating plan and find pleasure in finding the foods we CAN eat.
Instead of thinking, “I can’t have sugar,” try thinking, “I get to have strawberries.” A positive outlook regarding foods that are allowed on the new plan will go far toward having a good and successful experience with implementing it.
Clean Out The Pantry And Refrigerator
If the pantry, freezer, or refrigerator is full of items that aren’t allowed on the new eating plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. Get rid of anything that does not work with the new plan.
Simply, pull everything out and set it out on your kitchen table. Carefully go through the labels and filter through the items that fit into your new eating plan from those that do not.
If you can’t bring yourself to toss food into the trash, find a local food bank, homeless shelter or soup kitchen and donate the items.
Once you have rid your kitchen of anything you no longer eat, reward yourself with something non-food related. This reward will help you to mentally see this new plan in a positive manner.
Change The Way You Shop
A new eating plan means you have to learn what to buy. You may also need to relinquish control of your shopping. It may be time to allow someone else to complete your shopping.
This could be a family member or other caregiver, a grocery pickup service or a grocery delivery service. Regardless of whether you continue to do your own shopping or have someone else do it for you, make a specific list and stick to it.
Do not deviate from the list at all. Not only will this keep you from buying foods you are avoiding, but also it will help to save money because you are no longer impulse shopping.
Arm Yourself With An Arsenal Of Good, Easy Recipes
If you are eating dishes you like, you will have an easier time adhering to the dietary changes. Take a close look at your family favorite recipes. Can you revamp them to make them friendly to your new eating plan?
Try new recipes. Keep the ones you truly like and toss the ones that you can’t stomach. Have fun trying new flavor combinations. Create new recipes yourself using ingredients that are on the new plan.
Any recipe you like, write it down, so you don’t have to trust your memory when you want to make it again. A variety of good recipes will keep the new way of eating fresh which will help you to continue. If you are bored with your food, it will be easier to revert to previous habits.
Never Call Your Eating Plan A Diet
The word diet has a negative connotation. It indicates a temporary restrictive way of eating. if you must label what you are doing, call it an eating plan or a lifestyle change. Either of those phrases indicate a positive, permanent change that you are willingly making.
When discussing you new plan with friends or family, stay as upbeat and positive as possible. Expect to hear questions. People are naturally curious about any new change. Answer questions with a smile and a positive attitude, but only share the details you feel comfortable disclosing.
Regardless of the reasons for your new relationship with food, keeping it positive will help you to continue with your changes for whatever term you and your healthcare provider determine is necessary.
Prepare Meals In Advance
After a long day it is sometimes difficult to think about cooking. Prepped meals make it easier to stay on track with your plan rather than ordering from a restaurant or fast food establishment.
Meal prepping can be as simple as pre-chopping vegetables and separating meats into individual servings, or it can be as elaborate as cooking a variety of meals on shopping day and freezing them in individual or family sized portions.
Especially when you are starting a new plan of eating, prepping meals will make your life a little easier which will in turn help you continue with your plan.
To make meal prep easier, you might consider purchasing containers that are designed to hold one portion of food. Plastic containers that are designed to be used in both the freezer and the microwave are good choices for meal prep containers.
When beginning a new way of eating, a positive attitude is the key to a successful transition.
Remember, you are not being punished, you are making lifestyle changes that are designed with your long-term health as the inspiration.
This is not a diet. Diets are temporary. This is a new, positive change in your relationship with food.