5 Things to Do When Your Eating Habits Get Off Track

image of a woman trying to decide between eating something good or bad as she works on changing her eating habits


As the holidays approach, it’s easy to get off track with your diet. No wonder! It seems that holiday goodies are everywhere and it’s sometimes hard to pass them up, especially when there are parties galore and the focus is typically on food. Most of us indulge a bit around the holidays, but sometimes a few indulgences lead to more indulgences and your eating habits get completely off track – and then you need to right the ship again. Right? Here are five tips for helping you get back on track after you’ve overindulged and how to correct bad eating habits.

Get Back in Touch with the Reasons You Started

What made you upgrade your diet in the first place? Did you do it to slim down, improve your health, have more energy, or because you wanted to live a fuller, healthier life? Get back in touch with those reasons. Grab a notepad and write those motivations down. The act of writing your motivations down reinforces them in your mind and helps you remember WHY you started in the first place. Sometimes you have to jog your memory a bit!

Create an Inspiration Board

If you’re having problems getting back into the swing of things, get motivated by making an inspiration board. You can do this digitally by creating Pinterest boards. Build a board for healthy recipes so you’ll be inspired to make better-for-you choices. Then, make a board for motivation phrases related to fitness and healthy eating. Use these inspirations as your personal mantra when you work out and when you shop for healthy foods.

An actual physical inspiration board you can touch can also be helpful. To make one, buy a pinboard or bulletin board at a local office supply store and pin inspirational photos of healthy food and recipes on the board. Be sure to post it somewhere where you can see it throughout the day. Look at it often!

Keep a Food Journal of Your Eating Habits

Keeping a food journal is enlightening and it makes you more accountable. It’s a fact that most people underestimate how much they eat. A Cornell University study confirmed this fact. The clever researchers installed a hidden camera when participants were eating a meal at an Italian restaurant. After the meal, they asked the subjects how much they had eaten. On average, the participants reported eating 30% less than they actually did. Some were even unaware that they had nibbled from the bread basket. How’s that for mindless eating?

Unfortunately, underestimating food intake is all too common, especially when you eat with other people or are in a social situation. You get so distracted by the conversation that you lose track of how much you’re taking in. Plus, studies show that we take cues from other people when we eat in a social setting. If everyone else is nibbling from the bread basket, we tend to follow suit. The same happens when we eat while watching television or playing on the computer. When the mind is distracted by other activities, it can’t concentrate on the task of eating.

Keeping a food journal regularly is also linked with greater weight loss. In one study of 1,600 people, those who wrote in a food journal over a six-month period lost almost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. While you’re at it, keep an exercise journal too. Doing so will give you greater insight as to what works for you and what doesn’t, allowing you to fine-tune your diet and fitness routine.

When you keep a food journal, don’t just write down what you eat. Document how much along with the date and time. Also, rate your level of hunger between one and five at the time you ate it. It’s also helpful to take note of your mental state when you ate it. Were you calm and relaxed or stressed out? This will help you identify emotional eating behaviors.

Don’t Be TOO Hard on Yourself

No one is perfect. Sometimes life circumstances cause us to slip up! Accept that fact and move on. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up over dietary transgressions, particularly around the holidays. It might be tempting but don’t overcompensate by going on a calorie restricted diet or over-exercising. Gradually get back into your healthy routine without taking drastic measures. Don’t feel guilty about overindulging or try to punish yourself with extreme measures like a 1,000-calorie diet. That’s self-defeating! Move on and know that getting back on track is as simple as renewing your commitment.

Have a Solid Plan To Change Your Eating Habits

Getting back into a healthy routine takes a little planning. Formulate your meals for the upcoming week and make sure they’re healthy and contain enough calories and protein. Protein is important for keeping you satiated between meals. Fill up a steel bottle with water and carry it with you so you’re well hydrated. If you’ve been overindulging, you’ve probably taken in more sodium than usual and are retaining water. Staying hydrated will help you eliminate bloating and water weight gain. Make sure you’re consuming lots of potassium-rich vegetables, another way to reduce water retention.

The Bottom Line

No one eats healthy all the time. Remember that health comes from what we do 90% of the time. If you slip up, don’t chastise yourself or take drastic measures, like going on a very low-calorie diet. Reestablish your goals and your reasons for eating healthy, make plans to get back in the saddle, and move forward. Over a lifetime, you’ll have many of these setbacks, so don’t be too hard on yourself. To successfully control your weight and your health, your mind must be in the right place. Beating yourself up or being overly rigid with what you do creates unnecessary stress that can work against you. See getting back on track as a positive challenge. You can come back stronger than ever before!



Health.com. “6 Fascinating Things a Food Journal Can Teach You About Your Eating Habits”


Related Articles by Cathe:

Why Lifestyle Changes, Even Healthy Ones, Are Hard

5 Ways to Curb Mindless Overeating

6 Reasons to Write Down What You Eat

What Science Says About Why We Overeat

5 Factors That Affect Satiety

6 Tips for Making Healthier Choices at the Grocery Store

5 Tips for Eating Healthy in an Italian Restaurant

How to Stop Eating after Dinner and Why You Should

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