Help Yourself Over Diet Hurdles

You had plenty of enthusiasm for the first few weeks of your new healthy lifestyle: Maybe you learned some nutritious recipes, bought more fruits and veggies, probably even turned down your boss’ 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: You 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 slow cooker 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.

Hurdle #2: You're 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.

Hurdle #3: You're 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.

Hurdle #4: You don’t know what to do when dining 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 looking 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. 

Hurdle #5: You 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.

Hurdle #6: You don’t eat breakfast. 


  • Prepare a large batch of healthy options (fruit salad, whole-grain pancake batter, etc.) 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.