We’ve all been there.
We decide to start eating healthy and it all goes well for a while.
Then one stressful day we realize that we have nothing to eat for dinner.
We’re hungry, we’re tired and we just can’t seem to think of anything healthy to eat.
The fridge appears empty and it’s actually hard to remember why we wanted to eat healthy in the first place.
This is what I like to call diet-induced “brain fog“.
This is the feeling we get when we’re hungry, can’t think of anything healthy to eat and can barely remember why we want to avoid unhealthy food.
When this happens, our chances of a full-blown junk food binge increase substantially.
It’s Not a Matter of “if”, But “when”
This mental state will occur sooner rather than later.
You scared? You should be!
But there is no need to panic because I have a few tips that can circumvent this sort of situation.
This involves writing down a solution to your problems while you are clear-headed, and having them on hand when your brain suddenly decides to turn into an organic vegetable.
There are five different lists that can help here.
Planning Meals Ahead of Time
Planning your meals ahead of time can work wonders. You will never have to worry about what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch or dinner, because you’ve already planned it.
You can do this once per week, once every two weeks or perhaps just a few days in advance.
This way, you will know what you need to buy at the supermarket and you won’t find yourself standing ravenously hungry in front of an empty fridge (or a colorful and tempting vending machine).
Write Down What You Lose by Avoiding Bad Food
I recommend writing a list of the sacrifices you make by avoiding unhealthy foods.
This can include things like, “can’t eat cakes in birthday parties”, “can’t eat my way out of feeling blue” or “will have to cut back on my favorite food, pizza.”
Write Down What You Gain by Choosing Healthy Foods
This list should include all the benefits you believe you will gain by eating a healthy diet.
This list might include things like, “I’ll look good in clothes”, “I’ll look good naked”, “I’ll feel comfortable in my own skin”, “I won’t feel like people are judging me” and “I will live a longer, healthier life.”
Compare These Two Lists, Make an Informed Decision
These two lists are the facts. You wrote them when you were fully conscious and clear-headed.
Now look at both lists and compare them.
Which is more important to you? The things you lose by avoiding junk foods or the things you gain by eating healthy?
Make a logical decision. Most likely you will think that the benefits of eating healthy far outweigh the negatives. Write it down on your list.
It could say something like: “I have made a logical decisions that the benefits of eating a healthy diet far outweigh the negatives.”
Say it out loud too and repeat it a few times!
A List of Healthy Fast Food Places
There are actually many “fast food” places out there that do serve healthy food.
One place that I like to go to serves foods that are mostly unprocessed, organic and made with ingredients that are natural.
Many places that generally serve unhealthy food do have healthier options. Many burger joints may also serve a steak with a baked potato. Some place have bacon and eggs or a chicken salad.
Look around, call, ask your friends, look on the internet. You will find these places if you look.
Write them down. Have a list of 5-10 “fast food” places that you can eat at that are reasonable alternatives to a healthy, home-cooked meal.
A List of “Dirty” Meals
Sometimes, we get these cravings for something energy dense and “dirty” like a hamburger or a pizza.
When this happens, we might even feel disgusted by the thought of eating healthy stuff like fish or vegetables.
During these moments, having a list of “dirty” but still relatively healthy meals can help.
My go-to dirty meals are:
- 5-6 Eggs, fried in butter, mixed with fatty cheese and garlic. Fry until cheese gets a grilled texture.
- Ground beef, fried in butter, with fatty cheese, salt, pepper and some garlic. Fry until cheese gets a grilled texture.
These meals taste somewhat like they might be related to junk foods, but they are actually fairly healthy and certainly much better choices than actual junk food.
Your Emergency Manual
I recommend you write these lists on your computer and print them out. Possibly several copies.
Keep them with you where they might be needed. In your glove compartment, on your fridge (or hidden near it), in your desk at work.
Look at it like your emergency manual. Your go-to manual for what to do to survive a junk food craving “emergency”.
When the brain fog sets in, having lists like these to remind yourself why you are eating healthy and what you can do to get a healthy meal, can literally make or break your weight loss efforts.