I know it can be a challenge to turn things around once you stray from a healthy eating plan. That’s why I have the Tami Plan for easing back into healthy eating. I will share my tips and hints that have worked for me. I have been there and done that – strayed a bit from my healthiest choices. I know how you feel. You dabble with some less healthy eats and pretty soon your healthy food no longer satisfies your taste buds. It gets more and more difficult to get back on track.
Things were going along great with your food plan and weight loss. You were feeling good about yourself and loving the food you were eating. Then something happened. Maybe it was the pandemic, a birthday party, an anniversary, your increased stress level, worry about your loved ones, loss of your job or suddenly home schooling your kids. You started making exceptions in your food plan and before long the scale is moving in the opposite direction. You have trouble getting back on your healthy path. You can eat good for one or two days and then find yourself making exceptions again. UGH! It is so frustrating.
If you want to watch the video presentation of the Weight Loss Reboot with a Q & A at the end please scroll to the bottom of this page to find the video.
There are always going to be good and bad events in our life that challenge us. That is just a given. We have to learn how to navigate those bumpy times without using or abusing food to cope. That is another conversation – we will have in the future. Right now let’s work on getting back to a healthy eating pattern.
Right now if you have gone off your food plan you feel defeated, guilty, sad, hopeless and maybe embarrassed. I have experienced all of those feelings during many years of yo yo dieting. I have a simple plan to help you get back to where you want to be. It has worked for me and it can work for you too!
Since adopting a whole food plant based lifestyle in 2013 I have never wavered in my desire to only eat plant foods. I have never had a big weight gain but I have gained 5 pounds which is my threshold – panic button time! I have dabbled in some store bought granola that gave me crazy cravings and led to over eating for several days. Too many healthy desserts that started a trend of wanting to eat dessert every day for a week or two which for me can easily cause weight gain.
Some people do a water fast, a juice fast or an all potato reset. If that works for you great – I am all about results. We are all an experiment of one and different things work for different people. I however don’t do well with so many restrictions like a juice fast or an all potato diet. That sets me up for an all or nothing thinking pattern and makes me feel like I am on a fad diet. I have issues with deprivation and feeling like something is too much of a “diet.” I need a more normal plant based diet where I get to eat all of my food groups. So I will share with you what I do to get back on track when things have started to spiral out of control.
Simple Not Easy
The solution to getting back to healthy food is simple. Is it going to be easy? No – your brain is going to keep hammering you to eat more of the high calorie density foods that you have been eating. That is what it is hard wired to do! So, you are going to have to white knuckle it and work through the cravings. Be strong, be diligent, don’t give in! The cravings will get worse before they get better – just be aware of that and be ready for it. It is going to take 3-5 days for the cravings to subside. But then again around day 10 you can have a spike in cravings again – the brain just has to try again and see if you will give in! Listen to Dr Doug Lisle talk about The Cram Circuit. It will give you a good idea of what to expect as you begin to neuroadapt to healthy food again.
Hang in there you can do this. Take it a day at a time. Tell yourself you won’t give in today – you are going to have a clean 24 hours. Then the next day build on that. Pretty soon you will have 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 days and more in a row of eating healthy!
Dr Doug Lisle says we have to work harder on our environment than we do on ourselves. Your environment is anywhere you spend time. At home, in your car, at work. at your relatives home – anywhere you are is your environment. You must set yourself up for success by being in an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle.
You must get rid of the contraband that is derailing your healthy food choices. Don’t eat the leftover junk – get rid of it now. The more of it you eat the more cravings you will have to over come. It needs to go down the disposer – or in the trash with dish soap all over it so there is no possibility of digging it out of the trash in a weak moment!
If you live with other people who have tempting food in the house then you need to negotiate with them about where that food can safely reside. Only you know what is going to be best for you. If you think it can be in the house negotiate where – a special cupboard in the garage or in the kitchen. Other wise ask them not to have those items in the house for now. Get a food locker if need be.
I had to ask Tom to not bring chips into the house any more. Just seeing them made me want chips! He started keeping them out in his shop – a separate building from our house. Eventually he stopped buying them and started making his own oil free air fried corn tortilla chips. Problem solved!
The first rule is that the very next thing you put in your mouth has to be vegetables! Yes, that is right there is none of this, I will start tomorrow, or next Monday. There is no delaying a fresh start. The next bite of food has to be vegetables. Vegetables have fiber and water and they fill you up and don’t leave room for the other stuff. You have to start to detox from the off plan food right away. The sooner you start the sooner you will get over the cravings. Just think if you start to get back on track right now, this moment, by this time tomorrow you will already have 24 hours of clean eating behind you. Why would you wait until tomorrow? Too much damage can happen between now and then. You need to start putting distance between you and the tempting foods right now!
Plan Out Your Food
You know I am not normally a meal planner. I know what to buy that we can make meals out of. If you need more structure I do suggest you make a meal plan for the week ahead so you know what to buy when you go to the store. Include as many vegetables as you can. When you are full of vegetables you can’t be stuffing other junk in there.
Vegetables For Breakfast
Starting your day with some vegetables will help curb your cravings and your appetite. I learned this from Chef AJ and JP when I signed up for the Ultimate Weight Loss Program in 2015. Yes this means non starchy vegetables for breakfast. Throw in some dark leafy greens so you get the benefit of thylakoids – they help reduce the appetite and curb cravings. Dr Greger talks about thylakoids in his How Not To Diet book. Just one more reason to love dark leafy greens.
Make a veggie stir fry with some balsamic vinegar. Have a plate of crunchy raw veggies. Have a hot blended vegetable soup – just get some greens in before you have starch.
Dr Esslestyn has a list of the dark leafy greens he recommends to his heart patients in order to promote the formation of nitric oxide (NO) the most powerful vasodilator we have, so arteries will dilate to their fullest. I will share his list here as it’s also a good list to choose from for dark leafy greens for breakfast! Kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, beet greens, bok choy, turnip greens, mustard greens, napa cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cilantro parsley and asparagus. He also includes cauliflower and beets in his list – I don’t know if they also have thylakoids since they are not dark leafy greens but they are delicious!
Oatmeal with fruit is sweet and can set you up for wanting to eat more sweets the rest of the day. If you have greens first before your starch it is very helpful and will make a difference in how you eat the rest of the day. If you don’t believe me, just try it and see for yourself.
Salad Is The Main Dish
Having salad as one of my main dish meals once a day is a habit I learned from Dr Fuhrman back in 2013 when I adopted a WFPB lifestyle. It’s been 7 years and I am still eating a salad nearly every day for one of my meals. It’s an awesome healthy habit that I encourage everyone to try. Of course now it’s an amazing Chopped Salad which I love even more than a regular salad. Be sure to include some starch with every salad for satiety. We need our unrefined carbohydrates for energy and satiety. This can be beans, lentils, potatoes, rice, quinoa, millet and the list goes on! Check out my Instagram account for ideas and inspiration for what to put in your salads. You can make them different every day if you wish. You will be so full there won’t be room for anything unhealthy your brain is trying to get you eat. How to chop a salad with a wood bowl. No wood bowl – no worries here is How to chop a salad without a wood bowl.
Variety Is The Kiss Of Death
My friend Heather says that variety is the kiss of death for food addicts – those of us who have difficulty eating high calorie density foods in moderation. I think she is right.
Think about going to a pot luck or a buffet. When we see all that variety we want to try some of just about everything! When we go from one flavor profile to another it ignites our taste buds and makes us want more. It’s a good idea to keep this first week of food simple. We are less likely to over indulge if the food is more simple and basic. I am not saying to have tasteless food – just don’t make multiple options for each meal which can lead to over eating.
Keep it super simple! Nourish bowls – combine greens, grains and beans. Top it off with balsamic vinegar, Chipotle Nacho Cheeze Sauce, Creamy Alfredo or Classic Marinara. Very easy and simple to make, yet flavorful and filling. I would pick one sauce to make and eat all week but that’s me. I would eat Nourish Bowls, Burrito Bowls and Mexican Stuffed Baked Potatoes for my evening meals.
A Mexican Stuffed Baked Potato – is super simple but very filling. You can microwave a potato, open a can of beans and use some low sodium store bought salsa – dinner on the table in minutes. Rice, beans and corn with salsa in a bowl is a wonderful Burrito Bowl. Easy -peasy.
Or try my very popular Ponacho’s Recipe!
You can make Red Lentil Chili if you want. Serve it one night over rice or oat groats, another night over a baked potato and yet another night on a baked sweet potato. It will taste different each night. This Hearty Lentil Stew will feed you all week and then some!
Find healthier compliant choices for your food cravings. If it’s salty, crispy things – make Air fried Smashed Potatoes with compliant home made ketchup. Use Benson’s Table Tasty to give you that salty flavor. Just eat a big plate of vegetables first!
If it’s sweets that you want, try making frozen banana nice cream topped with fresh fruit. Allow yourself to have that every day if that helps you to get back on track. Try an Air Fried Japanese Sweet Potato – its amazing! This is not the time to be making pans of baked goods – not even if they are healthy because they are far too easy to over eat on. Stick with fruit and enjoy it’s natural sweetness. Remember we are trying to reset our taste buds and to neuroadapt to simple healthy food again.
If you are going to eat healthy you have to grocery shop and stock up on healthy food. Eat before you go grocery shopping – if you are hungry you are more apt to buy something off plan. Don’t go looking for trouble. Stay away from the inside aisles and concentrate on the produce department. If the fridge is full of healthy food you will eat healthy food! When you get home with the goodies start prepping. If the food is ready to heat and eat you will eat it. I have blog posts and videos on making salads ahead called Simple Salad Batch Prep and examples of Batch Cooking!
Eat Until You Are Full
This first week is not the time to be worrying about how much you weigh or getting the scale to go down. It’s really about gaining control over your eating. Eat until you are comfortably full. If you are full of healthy plant food you won’t have room for other stuff. Chances are, if you up your vegetable intake you will lose weight. However, the goal is to reduce cravings, eat healthy food and feel in control of your eating.
Move Your Body
Move your body every day! Pick any kind of physical movement you can and will do. We are not trying to burn off the junk that went in. You can’t out exercise a bad diet. We are trying to get those feel good hormones to flow and flood our brain with happy thoughts. Exercise is good for the soul, the body and the mind. It pleases our internal audience and we get a check mark for doing something good for ourselves!
If you have an accountability partner it can make this process of getting back on track easier and more enjoyable. It can be your spouse, a friend, even a stranger you met on line in a plant based community who is like minded and would understand what you are going through. Buddy up with someone in the chat feed here. You can text one another every day and say how you are doing. Or you can just check in on a plant based facebook group and report how you are doing each day. To shy for that? Keep a journal and write down what you are eating and how you are feeling each day. There is something about putting everything down in writing that is healing. You can always join an on line group like Chef AJ’s Feel Fabulous Over Forty group. She offers a 2 week free trial so you can’t go wrong.
I learned this fun reward system from Jay Pea who with Chef AJ runs the Ultimate Weight Loss Group that I joined in 2015. Reward yourself for achieving your goals. Why not have a reward for 7 days in a row of healthy eating, or 7 days of exercise, 7 days of no junk food. Whatever works for you. It doesn’t have to be something expensive in fact it can be something that is free. A walk around a beautiful lake or park. A bike ride through the neighborhood. A drive in the country side. A phone call with a long distance friend. A self manicure and pedicure. If you want to spend a little money it could be fresh flowers, a new work out top, a plant based cookbook, streaming a movie or an on line plant based cooking class. Make it fun and only honor the reward if you actually earn it!
These are the things that have worked well for me to move towards making more healthy choices. I hope they will work for you as well. Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself for the past. Learn from what went wrong so you can prevent it from happening again in the future.
Weight Loss Reboot Video Topics
- ENVIRONMENT CLEAN IT UP
- EAT VEGETABLES FOR THE VERY NEXT MEAL
- PLAN OUT YOUR FOOD
- SALAD IS THE MAIN DISH
- VARIETY IS THE KISS OF DEATH
- KISS – KEEP IT SUPER SIMPLE
- HEALTHIER CHOICES FOR YOUR FOOD CRAVINGS
- GROCERY SHOP
- EAT UNTIL COMFORTABLY FULL
- MOVE YOUR BODY
- Q & A from the Live YouTube Show
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