Whether you’re trying to achieve certain fitness goals, or just want to maintain your current look, you should have a solid approach when it comes to how you make choices in the kitchen. Being on a diet can be great to jump start the process by keeping you accountable, or giving you something to follow, but is that really sustainable over a long period of time? If you’re looking to make long-term changes you need to create a lifestyle, instead of relying on a quick fix. Here are 5 basic tips to help you make good choices, and maintain a healthy lifestyle:

 

  • Go for taste – don’t force yourself to eat things that you don’t like.

    There are plenty of ways to incorporate certain nutrients and food groups into your diet. That means there is no need to force yourself to eat things that you don’t like. When you are embracing a healthy lifestyle go for foods that you like the taste and texture of. If you don’t like broccoli then don’t force yourself to eat it, if you do you will just turn yourself off to making healthy changes all together because you won’t like what that means for you and you won’t enjoy what you are eating. If you love spinach try different ways to incorporate spinach into your diet, like chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta! (yum)

  • Serving sizes exist for a reason, use them!

It’s better to allow yourself to have a food that you are craving than to completely cut that food out and then go off the deep end to make up for lost time the next time you allow yourself to eat whatever it is. Sure, when your body craves something like chips or fries it’s probably because you need more sodium in your diet; but we get it, a dash of salt on some veggies is not always going to do the trick. That’s why it’s OK to allow yourself to enjoy some of your favorite foods if you’re craving them, and by some that means one serving size. Serving sizes are also important for those silent killers like salad dressing and condiments! Remember, everything is OK in moderation and life is too short to always pass up the good stuff.

Extra tip: Cravings last about 15 minutes. If there is a food that you are really craving put your timer on for 15 minutes and if you still want that food when your timer goes off, go for it! Using the serving size, of course.

  • Know your weaknesses. Own them to control them.

We all have weaknesses. Some people love snacks, some people love desserts, some people love cocktails. Whatever your weakness is acknowledge it and own it, this way you can control it. For instance, if you love, love, love sweets go to Google or Pinterest and simply type in “healthy desserts” and try some of the recipes or ideas that you find will satisfy your sweet tooth. There is no point in being in denial and telling yourself that you don’t love snacks or you don’t need snacks. The truth is that you will always love snacking so instead of sabotaging your efforts by avoiding snacks all together find some healthy snack ideas you can munch on while mentally satisfying your weakness as well.

  • Be prepared.

This doesn’t necessarily mean meal prep. If you have a busy schedule and you know your weaknesses, prepare yourself. Make sure you always have a healthy and satisfying snack on hand, one you can eat on your way home from work. When you are hungry it  is not the best time to pick a snack, so play it safe and be prepared. Also, the crock pot should be your best friend. Again, you don’t have to meal prep but you can throw a few chicken breasts into the crock pot, lightly season them, and at least you now  have a good alternative to make almost any meal..

  • Take one meal at a time. Don’t beat yourself up for one slip up.

One of the biggest excuses people tell themselves for unhealthy habits is “I already ate [insert unhealthy food here] today so my diet is shot. I’ll just keep eating bad the rest of the day and ‘start again’ tomorrow.” The first thing that needs to change is the mindset that you are dieting. If you are living a healthy lifestyle it’s not a “diet.” When you label making healthy choices as a diet you hype up certain foods as a temptation so when you occasionally give in you feel guilty. Second, if you have one bad meal it’s OK! Do not sabotage the rest of your day for one poor food decision. Mentally you will feel stronger if you look back and appreciate that you were able to bounce back from a slip up.