Having a perfect dieting day, every day

by Ali on July 14, 2008

This is the sixteenth part of the dieting basics series – see the series outline for links to all the other posts so far.

Get your day off to a good, healthy start

The best way to have a perfect day is to start off strongly. Easier said than done, I know – but getting up early, having a relaxed breakfast and making sure that you’ve got everything you need for work will set the tone for the whole day. All you need to do is set your alarm ten minutes early.

For those who really struggle to crawl out from under the duvet, try:

  • Having two alarms, one at five minutes before you want to get up.
  • Putting your alarm clock on the far side of the room.
  • Laying clothes out the night before, so you can get up and dressed straight away, thus avoiding the temptation to whack the alarm and flop back into bed.
  • Going to bed earlier! (Yes, it’s obvious, but easy to miss.)
  • Once you’re out of bed, be sure to:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast – you can find out how and why in this article about breakfast.
  • Make yourself a packed lunch – read the article on lunch or check out this cheap and easy shopping list.

Be prepared for diet challenges during the day

Yes, the Boy Scout “be prepared” motto may have become a cliché – but that’s because it’s such good advice. Inevitably, things won’t go as smoothly as you’d hoped. Maybe you get stuck in a meeting, unable to eat your planned yoghurt and fruit mid-morning snack … and your stomach is gurgling at the sight of chocolate biscuits within arms’ reach. Perhaps one of your colleagues has brought in a birthday cake.

The best way to be prepared is to stay in a positive frame of mind: accept that events won’t always work out perfectly for your diet, and meet these as opportunities to show yourself just how determined you are. Have a few tricks up your sleeve, such as:

  • Having a reasonable amount for breakfast if you know you won’t get another chance to eat until lunch.
  • Knowing how to turn down a cookie without hurting someone’s feelings.

Keep up your diet resolve

On the other hand, it’s sometimes not external factors which threaten to ruin the perfect day, but our own minds. If your good intentions waver when lunch-time arrives (yes, you have a sandwich waiting in the office fridge, but you rather fancy a humungous slice of pizza from the shop across the street) … remind yourself of your healthy eating plans. Think about all the hard work you’ve put in, and how perfect your day has been so far: you don’t want to spoil it now!

If work is dragging mid-afternoon, stop for a cup of tea or a tall, cool glass of water. Don’t “treat yourself” to a biscuit just because you’ve finally finished that spreadsheet, or sent that difficult email … you’ll only feel guilty five minutes later.

Stay focused in the evening

When you get home, smug, from a perfect day of eating in the office – don’t let yourself get too complacent. It’s all too easy to treat yourself to a second helping of dinner, then decide that you’ll have dessert as you’ve been so good all day … and when you’re sitting on the sofa watching television, you can’t resist getting a little chocolately snack …

Don’t ruin your perfect day! Of course you need to unwind in the evening, but there are plenty of ways to do that without over-indulging in food. Make sure you have a satisfying, healthy dinner, and have a sweet treat afterwards for dessert if you want one – just make it something small and not too fat and sugar laden. (Chocolate mousse, low-fat frozen yoghurt, fruit sorbet or fruit lollies are good options. A giant slice of chocolate fudge cake is not so great.)

If you know you tend to snack whilst watching television, find something to do that occupies your hands instead – ironing or knitting work well. Or turn off the box completely, and get a relaxing bath or get stuck into one of your hobbies – there’s some more ideas in my article about avoiding unhealthy snacking.

One final tip: if your willpower tends to be low in the evening, a glass of wine or a can of beer will not help. Try cutting out the alcohol for a few days, and see if it makes a difference.

Enjoy your perfect dieting day!

The next part in this series will let you into four sure-fire ways to beat food cravings. Make sure you’re getting RSS updates so that you don’t miss it!

(Image above by monkeyc.net)

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