Your best intentions want you to eat kale and brown rice for dinner, but somehow, as you're on your way home, your car parks right in front of the pizza parlor. It must be a sign to ditch your dinner plans and drown in gooey cheese.
Yet, three slices in, your well-worn routine of digestion mixed with guilt begins. Why can’t you stick to your diet?
I’ve been there, three slices and a hot fudge sundae away from my intention to eat a vegan diet. I’ve felt the frustration of clearly knowing what I should be eating and having my grabby hands stuffing grease-laden goodness into my mouth.
My vegan intentions even had the full motivation of a chronic health condition that would benefit from a clean, plant-based diet, and I still cheated.
What’s the deal?
It took lots of trial-and-error — well, cheating-and-error — but I have figured out the secret to maintaining a healthy diet, consistently, day in and day out, even when the pizza parlor is right on the way home.
There are three reasons you're not sticking to your best eating intentions. Fix these and you'll have brown rice and kale for dinner.
1. Your commitment is not absolute.
You’ve said things like, “I'll try to eat healthier,” or, “I’ll only have sweets on special occasions,” and, “I’ll be vegan except for when I eat out.” You have baked all sorts of exit strategies into your diet.
Without being clear about the plan you're going to follow and making changes universal, it's way too easy to find yourself hoping for the biggest slice of cake during the next work celebration.
If it's less sugar, it has to be no sugar. If it's vegetarian, it's vegetarian everywhere. If it's a green smoothie in the morning, it has to be a green smoothie every single morning.
2. You don’t have a buddy.
Someone who is also committed to brown rice and kale. You need the moral support. It's also great to have a friend with whom you can recipe swap and attend farmers markets.
If everyone in your life is eating the SAD (standard American diet) with no hope of change, find an online community that can keep you focused.
My diet became infinitely easier to maintain once my husband joined me. It's even brought us closer as we explore new vegan restaurants and find creative ways to enhance our health together.
3. A slip-up equals failure.
Every time you catch yourself halfway into a donut, you conclude that you have zero willpower and this is another diet attempt down the drain. Your motivation is gone in an instant.
Slip-ups are inevitable. At some point you'll let something slide. Rather than berate yourself and head for the nearest drive-thru, forgive and forget. Let this one go. Recommit to your goal and start again. Getting past slip-ups will increase your commitment and confidence for the long haul.
At each meal you have a choice. You can side with the part of you that is craving chocolate cheesecake or the part that wants better health. Project that choice 30 minutes, two hours, and two years down the road. Who do you want to side with? Bloaty and frustrated? Or energetic and proud?