According to Diane Bailey, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, owner of The Conditioning Classroom in Colorado, and co-author of Eating Simply, most of us should be able to agree on a few simple ideas about healthy eating habits.
These include that: food should be pleasurable; food should be flavorful; food should be nutritious; preparing food shouldn’t have to take up excessive amounts of time; food should not be a source of stress; and finally, eating should be simple and support your goals.
“Healthy eating, however, has unfortunately been associated with words like complicated, time consuming, tasteless, and boring,” Bailey said.
Sure, some of these things present themselves as obstacles on the path to maintaining healthy eating habits, but Bailey says there’s no reason you can’t conquer them.
The following is her advice for overcoming some of the most common “healthy eating obstacles” that we all face on a day to day basis.
Obstacle: Friends and Family
“This is the number one reason I see people veer off the path of healthy eating,” says Bailey. “Friends say things like, ‘Come on, don’t be a downer all the time. Let’s go have a few drinks.’ And then after a few drinks and appetizers, you think you are so far off the path that you can’t find it anymore. Or family members complain about ‘healthy meals’ and plead for the old favorites back again.” She explained how this can lead you to feel like you’re “ruining the fun and enjoyment” for those around you. “The key is to be confident in yourself and know that choosing to eat healthy is the right thing for you and for your family,” she said. “Plan for a day each week that allows you to enjoy a fun meal with your friends and family, and then purposefully return back to eating healthy.”
Obstacle: Learned Responses or Addictions
“Sugar is an addictive, easy-to-obtain, white powder that commands you to eat more and more,” says Bailey. She explained that it’s important to recognize how easily it can hinder your efforts by unsuspectingly creeping back into your diet. “Learn to read labels and eliminate as much ‘added sugar’ as you can.” She also said to pay attention to the common “clean your plate” notion, which is a learned response for many. Focus on eating slowly so you can recognize the moment when you’re satisfied and full—especially when out to eat, as restaurant portion sizes are usually larger than normal—instead of eating everything on your plate just because it’s there.