COMMON HURDLES + HOW TO OVERCOME THEM
Today I want to provide some tips for overcoming hurdles, especially as you are making a change to your diet. If you are a client of mine, you know that we always discuss your hurdles, or what you feel is preventing you from making a change you want to make.
In my experience, nutrition information and education is incredibly necessary and important, however change does not happen if we do not figure out how to apply the information into your daily life.
If you are experiencing a hurdle, that is preventing you from making a change, we can usually get to the bottom of it!
Below I outlined some main hurdles that my clients face, and a starting point for how to overcome them.
This is for sure the biggest hurdle that comes up in 1:1 sessions. It is very common to feel that we do not have the time to make a change that we want to make. Or feel that in order to be “healthy” we need a lot of time. I think this can come for having the expectation that change has to be massive, or all encompassing. It can also come from the expectation that healthy choices and healthy eating is time consuming.
What I do first with my clients, is try to break it down. We focus on what they are realistically doing now, and how we can change things up with something that does not take more time. For instance, if a client is eating lunch out every meal, we find a healthier alternative that is equally as close/easy. If someone already allocates time to cook every week, we keep the pattern consistent but change up what someone is making.
I am a big advocate for scheduling in meal planning time, which can include scheduling in time for grocery shopping and cooking. Actually adding in the time to your calendar or day planner means that it is a non-negotiable. Eventually, allocating time to grocery shop, plan meals, cook some things etc. becomes second nature and ultimately saves time. I am also a huge proponent of optimizing your time in the kitchen. This includes the idea of “cooking once eating twice”..or three or four times, cooking enough for leftovers and/or cooking a big batch of something for the week or to freeze for another date.
I am also mindful of the time it takes to cook, and believe it is important to seek out recipes that specifically say they take under a certain amount of time. Being realistic with the time you have, and the time you want to spend cooking (even if it is zero), can be helpful in figuring out what will work for you.
2. “ACTUALLY JUST DOING IT“
This is another common hurdle that I hear, and often in these exact words. Sometimes my clients do not feel something tangible (i.e. time/cost etc.) is preventing them from making a change, but they just feel they may not do it. They have perhaps tried things in the past but have not kept up with the changes. They may feel that they will fall into old habits, or find the change too difficult to make, or feel defeated easily.
I have two main tips for overcoming this hurdle. One tips is find your “why”. Find, understand and focus on your true motivation for wanting to make a change. Find your reason why, and keep this front and centre in your mind. The second tip is to be realistic. Change does NOT have to be all-or-nothing, and you can make small changes a little bit at a time until it becomes habit. Make things as easy and simple as possible for yourself.
3. BORED/NOT ENOUGH VARIETY
Another common hurdle or fear is that making a change will be boring, and will not include enough variety. A lot of my clients love food, love trying new things and get bored with food easily. They fear changing their nutrition will prevent them from experiencing a cool new food or recipe.
Healthy does not have to be boring. Healthy food does not mean boring blends meals. Again, taking away this all-or-nothing mindset can be helpful. I always say that what you eat the majority of the time will dictate how you feel the majority of the time. Health does not mean being strict, it is about finding what you can do in a realistic way.
Many foods and recipes can be healthy, and there is an abundance of recipes that are both flavourful, exciting and nutritious. Check out my Pinterest boards for inspiration.
Another tip is to buy new healthy cookbooks (I have lots of recommendations if you need them) and actively choose 1-2 new recipes every week. You can see how food can be exciting and new, yet healthy at the same time.
4. FEELING RESTRICTED
A big hurdle is the fear of feeling restricted, or that you can’t live your life while trying to be healthy. The first thing I say to this is that changing your lifestyle will NEVER work if you feel restricted. If you are not enjoying your food, and enjoying your life, it is unlikely that you will maintain a healthy lifestyle.
You need to ensure that you are eating enough, and eating in a way that is filling. A lot of this comes down to simple nutrition and enjoying enough protein, fibre and healthy fat throughout the day. If you feel full and satiated from a pure nutrition perspective, you likely won’t feel restricted.
I believe it is also important to indulge, and enjoy food as part of celebrations (if you like this!) and going for dinner with friends etc. Your life does not have to revolve around food, or eating healthy all the time – it is all about the balance. A huge part of a healthy lifestyle is moderation, and enjoying different foods for different reasons.
Include foods that are flavourful and delicious. Another tip is to enjoy healthy food with friends. Instead of going out to eat one night, invite friends over for a home cooked meal and include a bunch of healthy things for everyone to enjoy. This is one way to enjoy company, feel you are still living your life, yet eating in a way that makes you feel good.
5. MANAGING DIETARY PREFERENCES FOR MANY PEOPLE i.e. WHOLE FAMILY
I have many clients who cook for their whole family, and need to manage their own health goals, with the dietary preferences of their family. Perhaps you have a partner and children, and everyone eats differently. This is pretty common, and quite a tough hurdle.
One tip is to make a list of any common ground foods. Sometimes this is difficult but create a physical list of foods that everyone will enjoy- and cook based off of this.
Another tip is to make a dish that can be altered for specific taste preferences. I.e. A vegetarian meal for a vegetarian in the household, but then cooking some meat for any meat eaters to have on the side. Or a dish that can include sauce on the side, instead of mixed in.
One last tip is to have “build-your-own” nights, where there is a main focus or theme but then everyone can top or build their own. Common ideas include pizza or taco night!
Thinking that healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle is expensive, prevents some people from attempting to make a change. This comes from the misconception that health is expensive. And yes, it very much can be portrayed that way, specifically on social media. Many health influencers promote expensive products and you may feel you need those to be healthy. Sometimes it is true that a “higher quality” item is more expensive. For instance, In the case of organic vegetables versus conventional vegetables, the organic vegetables are often significantly more expensive. As well, a healthier packaged good, like a cracker or cookie, is oftentimes more expensive than the alternative.
However, you you do not need 12 dollars juices, a $20 dollar almond butter or $12 paleo crackers to be healthy. A lot to his comes down to personal preference and priorities. I say to set out a budget, and grocery shop accordingly.
I do have a few tips to keep cost down. First, is to shop at grocery stores with lower prices. For instance, in Toronto we have No Frills, Food Basics or Cosco, which typically have lower prices on things like vegetables, meat and packaged goods. Another tip is to shop at bulk stores for things like flours, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, lentils and even snacks. Dried goods are generally less expensive than packages or canned goods. A third tip is to choose nutritionally equivalent, yet less expensive option for certain foods. For instance, seeds and seed butters are less expensive than nuts. You can also try frozen vegetables and fruit, which is nutritious and often less expensive than fresh produce. My last tip is to revisit and rethink your portion sizes of more expensive food items. For instance, many people eat double or triple the portion of meat or dairy than is nutritionally necessary, and these are the items that are generally more expensive.
On a final note I think it is important to say that you are not alone. Change is VERY difficult. Changing your diet and your lifestyle is NOT easy. It is important to be kind and patient with yourself as you embark on a change, or improvement, of any kind.
I hope you found this post helpful. Do these hurdles resonate with you? Try these tips out and if you need extra coaching please do not hesitate to reach out!