Now that we've thoroughly discussed how important having the right mindset is for our Nutrition Challenge success (click here in case you missed it), let's talk about a few tips and tricks that will help set us up for the best possible experience!
1. Find good substitutes.
My first suggestion is to find good substitutes for the things you love and use regularly. Unfortunately, many of the staples in our "American" food diet are highly processed, nutrient poor foods. The good news is that there are many healthier options out there.
Not sure how to find these healthier substitutes? The best place to start is... Google. Yes, Google! When trying to find a healthier option for something, that is the first place I go. I literally Google "healthy substitute for ______" and usually find some great options. One word of caution is to pay attention to the sources you listen to. A lot of Brands will try to convince you that their food is "healthy", when it in fact is not. Check the ingredients labels before believing something is automatically healthy just because the package says it is.
Another great way to find Nutrition Challenge approved items is to google "Whole30 _____". Although we are NOT doing Whole30, anything that is Whole30 approved does fall into the parameters of our challenge.
2. Stock up on good snacks.
Another suggestion I have is to stock up on nutritious, ready to go snacks. Because let's be honest, how many times have we justified eating something that we knew wasn't great for us in a moment of "sheer desperation" or weakness. Having your pantry and refrigerator full of healthy snacks will keep you from making these slips.
A few of my favorites are apples and almond butter, carrots and homemade ranch (click here for recipe), bacon wrapped dates (click here for recipe) and overnight oats with fresh fruit (click here for a slew of overnight oats recipes).
3. Get rid of temptation.
Suggestion number three: let's just do ourselves a favor and get rid of everything that we know will be especially tempting for us. Everyone has their own food(s) that they just can't say no to and I think you know exactly what I'm talking about (full disclosure, mine is ice cream). Whatever just came to your mind, get rid of it. This challenge is for only 29 days and I'm pretty sure you'll survive if you go without it for that long. Having it around will only make your chances of an "accidental" slip up exponentially greater.
For those of you who are thinking, "I have a whole family to feed and I can't just throw away the _____." Actually, you can. Why not do your whole family a favor for the month and go without it. I promise they'll be ok.
4. Avoid the "Slippery Slope."
Lastly, I'd like to suggest avoiding what I like to call the, "slippery slope." Sometimes even the best of us accidentally forget we are on a diet and eat something we shouldn't. Or maybe we make the conscious decision to cheat for a reason we consider acceptable. Regardless of your reason, what I'm talking about is allowing one cheat to become an excuse to binge eat junk food for the rest of the day. This is what we call "cheat days" and they are not a good idea for our Nutrition Challenge. While cheat days may feel extremely satisfying in the moment, they will mess with your psychologically and make it that much harder not to cheat the next day.
My suggestion if you do cheat is to remind yourself again that this is not about winning. It's not about gaining points. It's about making small choices that will lead to healthier habits and greater health in the long run. If you cheat, be kind to yourself and move on. Make good decisions for the rest of the day. And start over with a clean slate tomorrow.
Now that you have my list of tips and tricks, start cleaning out what you don't need, stocking up on what you do need, and get ready to go on June 1st! Remember, I believe in you. You can do this!