Nutrition Articles

Help Yourself Over Diet Hurdles

Make Options Instead of Excuses


It’s the time of year when those New Year’s Resolutions are getting more difficult to keep, and the winter weather isn’t making it any easier. You probably had a lot of enthusiasm for the first few weeks—you learned some healthy recipes, bought more fruits and veggies, probably even turned down your boss’s famous chocolate cake. But as the weeks go by, more obstacles start to creep in. Don’t be dismayed! The good news is that there are plenty of helpers to get you over those diet hurdles. 

Hurdle #1: "I don’t have time to cook." 

  • In anticipation of busy times, prepare batches of food on the weekends and freeze them until needed.
  • When preparing food, purposely make extra for leftovers.
  • Plan your meals for the upcoming week and make one weekend trip to the grocery store.
  • Buy foods that are pre-prepped: bags of chopped vegetables, pre-cut fruits from the produce section, canned beans instead of dried.
  • Throw all your ingredients into a Crockpot and voila! A healthy, home cooked meal awaits your return from work.
  • Buy healthy frozen entrees, and meals that take only a few minutes to cook. Examples include: stir fry (look for pre-cut veggies), soup, instant brown rice, oatmeal, and sandwiches on whole wheat bread.
  • The night before, set-up your breakfast (dishes, utensils, etc), pack your lunch, and plan what you’ll do for dinner.
  • For more time-saving tips, read "Fitting Healthy Habits into Your Hectic Life."
Hurdle #2: I’m suffering from a case of "Portion Distortion." 

  • Order smaller-sized or lunch-sized portions when eating out.
  • Know serving sizes and be accurate in tracking food choices.
  • Ask the server to box up half of your entrée before it arrives.
  • If you are thinking about going for seconds, wait at least 20 minutes to decide if you are truly still hungry.
  • Avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat dining options.
  • Educate yourself! When you learn what proper portions really look like, you won’t have trouble knowing when to stop. Check out The Portion Distortion Guide.
Hurdle #3: I’m an emotional eater. 

  • Plan ahead and keep busy during downtime to avoid eating out of boredom.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. You might actually be thirsty instead of hungry.
  • Don’t keep sweets and junk food on hand at home.
  • Give yourself occasional food rewards, and build them into your plan. Decide ahead of time, and portion out how much you will have.
  • When you’re about to eat, ask yourself if you are actually hungry, or if you’re upset, sad, lonely, or bored. If your emotions are driving you to eat, find a healthy way to deal with them: write in your journal, allow yourself to cry, call up a friend, go on a short walk, or read a book.
  • To "Get a Handle on Emotional Eating," click here.
Hurdle #4: I don’t know what to do when I eat out. 

  • Share an entrée or dessert with someone.
  • Order dishes with lots of veggies.
  • Drink water while you are waiting for your meal.
  • Enjoy a healthy snack before you go out so that you aren’t too hungry
  • When eating out, decide what healthy option you are going to order before you look at the menu.
  • Don’t be afraid to make substitutions and special requests. Ask for dressing on the side, tell the waiter you'll pass on the bread basket, and ask for your veggies to be steamed instead of fried.
  • Don’t let the restaurants win—you’re in control of your diet. For more tips, read "Beating Restaurants at Their Own Game!"
Hurdle #5: I don’t know what to do at family gatherings, holidays, or on vacation. 

  • Eat on a regular schedule. Don’t skip a meal in order to "save room" for the next meal.
  • Plan ahead for exercise. Find out if the hotel has a fitness center or if there are any parks or recreation centers nearby. If not, bring your own travel-friendly equipment, like a jump rope or resistance band.
  • Enjoy the company and activities more than the food.
  • Plan physical fitness activities for the group.
  • Vacation can make sticking to your diet and exercise plans that much harder! But if you’re armed and ready, you can take on vacation and come out a winner. The Healthy Vacation Guide will help you return home in the same shape you left.
Hurdle #6: I don’t eat breakfast. 

  • Prepare a large batch of healthy options (fruit salad, whole grain pancake batter) at the beginning of the week and use it throughout the week.
  • If you aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, pack a healthy snack and eat it around 9 a.m.
  • Shop for quick, healthy foods once a week.
  • Eat a piece of fresh fruit every morning.
  • Click here for more "Healthy and Quick Breakfast Ideas."

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Member Comments

  • no more excuses, this is a good article to prevent them.
    This article is a great excuse buster!
  • It is true when I am emotional (bored or depressed) I tend to get the world's worse sweet tooth. I am learning to be satisfied with the sugars in fruit. It takes some getting used to but it works. I work so having the fruit around all the time when I need it is a hassle.
  • It is true when I am emotional (bored or depressed) I tend to get the world's worse sweet tooth. I am learning to be satisfied with the sugars in fruit. It takes some getting used to but it works. I work so having the fruit around all the time when I need it is a hassle.
  • Portion Distortion and Emotional Eating are two of my problems but I'm getting better with them. Another problem you didn't mention is nighttime snacking. I'm finding this to be a problem for me as well.
  • # 3 Emotional Eating. That was a big one for me. There was always an undercurrent of anxiety that made me want to eat comfort foods like pasta. But once I released my negative emotions, it became much easier to lose the weight and keep it off. I'm down 30 lbs now and still dropping. I'm finally in control of what I put in my mouth and not the other way around. I feel like a different person : )
    great article, great ideas, great inspiration
  • CAROLE012
    While I don't ask a restaurant to pack half my food before it is served I do separate my food in half and only eat half and then pack is up as leftovers. I have also started walking at least 3 times a week or more in our shopping mall before the stores open. Everyone walking waves to each other and smiles. It just makes me feel better about myself and forget any problems for a while.
  • This is a very nice article, with a myriad of useful tips, which are highly encouraging no matter who you are.
    Thanks for the tips about eating out. Restaurants are my #1 diet downfall. Does anyone ask the waiter to wrap half of their meal before it's brought to the table? Do you get strange looks?
  • KV711LAW
    Awesome Ideas! Though most of us have been in this diet game for so long we think we have been there done that with everything. Only, seeing these ideas all together- like Cliff Notes- inspired me to print them out to take with me and read daily- until it becomes a natural part of my thought process! Thanks for a great article!
  • I can relate to the emotional eater. I see now that I eat more of the unhealthy foods when I am stressed out. Maybe I can push myself to drink more water when I think about putting something in my mouth.
  • Jibbie, that is cute. Reminds me of my baby brother (many years ago) who stood up in his crib and yelled, "Eat, Doey, eat!" (Doey was our big sister.)
    Many good ideas in this article but today it is not the most economical to buy instant and many prepared foods. Just lately, I discovered steel cut oats and found I could put them in small crockpot at night and they are ready for my husband and me in the morning. Adapted a good recipe from SP recipes. Leftovers heat up just fine for several more days.
  • Thanks for the breakfast idea to "pack the food" and have it about 9 A.M. That is SO good, because I have NEVER cared to eat first thing in the morning. My niece would make all of us laugh, because she'd get out of bed at 6 A.M. and come down the stairs at age 2, yelling "I want EGG, NOW, EGG, EGG." Then she'd climb up into her high chair and wait.

About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

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