We all know we should be eating healthily, but while it can be easy to do for short periods of time, it’s often more challenging to establish and maintain healthy habits which can be sustained in the long term. The great news is that when it comes to the menopause, your diet may help reduce symptoms and ease the transition.
Having worked as a personal trainer and wellness coach for many years I am passionate about helping women. So today I want to share with you 6 steps to fast-track your healthy eating habits. This is not about fad diets, crash diets or ANY kind of diet. I am here to support you to find what works for you, what your priorities are, what’s realistic and what fits into your life. Making food another stress point is of no benefit to anyone.
Step1: What is your starting point?
Start at the beginning. It’s time to take a really honest look at what you’re eating. What are your big rocks? Are you eating healthy? You can use our food diary template which is a free printable. The idea is for a few days (including weekend days) to record exactly what you’re eating and when. Also in the third column why? So much of our food decisions are based on how we’re feeling. Am I tired, genuinely hungry, bored, eating because others are, feeling emotional, stressed etc.
Step 2: Understanding your food challenges
Now it’s time to be honest about your food challenges. Using your food diary and thinking about your eating patterns – what are your challenges?
It may be you don’t drink enough water, you may not have enough protein or fruit and veg. You may find you’re good during the week and it all goes wrong at the weekend or you’re good during the day but struggle in the evening. Sugary snacks or crisps or too much bread might be your challenge. Get clear on your priorities.
Step 3: Tackling the “big rocks”
In my blog on symptoms and food I talked about why tackling the big rocks first will have the biggest impact. So what are yours?
- Do you drink enough water? – Hydration is essential to feel strong and healthy
- Do you eat enough protein? – Protein feeds our muscles and helps to keep us feeling full
- Do vegetables make up a good proportion of your diet? – We all know vegetable are good for us
- What do you snack on? – Do you reach for the crisps/chocolate as your normal snack choices?
Personally, I then use this to create my daily guidelines for eating healthy. Here’s an example of mine:
- At least 4 pints of water
- Protein with every meal
- Half my plate vegetables
- No Sugary snacks
At the end of the day I simply tick which ones I’ve achieved. Then at the end of the week I review and aim to be hitting them at least 80% of the time.
This works for me as it’s a guidance and is realistic. You can also use things like My Fitness Pal for tracking if counting calories is your thing.
Step 4: Planning
I genuinely find planning my meals makes a huge difference. The weeks where I don’t plan, that’s when it can go wrong. I get to lunch – what’s in cupboard, or a crazy night with the kids – do whatever is quick and easy. This often means I’ll make poor choices out of necessity of eating something.
I like to use a Meal Planner – we have a free printable template
When planning I also link to what I’ve got on each week. I’ve found in the past I’ve planned an amazing week of healthy eating only to realise I just don’t have the time to prepare it. We all have such busy lives our planning needs to be realistic so we’re setting ourselves up to be successful.
When I use the plan for shopping and cooking, I find I can tick of so many more days where I hit my guidelines
Step 5: Review
Taking time to review your progress is really important. This will encourage you to keep going as you see progress. Also it will help you readjust when things aren’t working. Consider the following questions:
- Which of your habits/rules are you sticking to?
- Which habits/rules are you finding hard?
- What else can you do?
- How are you going to feel when you are fuelling your body well?
- What do I need to work on?
Step 6: Lose the Guilt
If you have a bad meal it doesn’t need to turn into a bad day. If you have a bad day it doesn’t need to turn into a bad week.
When you make some bad choices, accept what’s happened and let it go. Why beat yourself up and feel guilty? It’s past you can’t undo it. Forgive yourself and refocus on what you are going to do next. Remind yourself of your habits and focus on your why.
If you can make at least one extra healthy choice every day – imagine how you’ll feel in a week, a month or even a year from now!
Where to get more help …
If you’ve got any questions please come and ask it in our Facebook group or join one of my weekly Q&A’s.