1. Stop restricting everything.

By constantly telling yourself ; ‘I’m not allowed this, I mustn’t touch that; out with the foods I enjoy and in with the boring healthy  stuff….’ You’re creating a very negative mindset around food, with rigid dogmatic rules and relentless self-sacrifice! Rather, start by making a list of all the healthy foods you ENJOY, and build your plan around those foods. You will end up eating a lot less rubbish without the negative mindset that comes with restriction.

  1. Allow yourself some rubbish, but plan for it.

The unplanned consumption of junk food is associated with feelings of guilt, lack of self-control and failure, which usually then leads to eating more junk food, more guilt and a downward spiral of self-loathing. The solution is not complete restriction, because that in itself can be negative as we’ve seen. I believe the solution is to plan your consumption of junk food. I’m not talking about planning every detail of every meal, but there are for example times of the day in which low grade foods are less harmful  (and sometimes even helpful) to our bodies- eg simple sugars after an intense workout replenish glycogen stores and assist in the process of protein synthesis. If you are craving sugar, hold out until you’ve worked out! With planning and practice, in time, strategies become habits. Pretty soon, eating rubbish becomes nothing more than an occasional indulgence that you may even use to your advantage and absolutely definitely with no guilt attached! (note, I do not mean to diminish the power of sugar addiction, and whilst the above may apply to those who are simply trying to reduce sugar intake, if sugar is a trigger that may derail your progress, you would likely do better to find a strategy that excludes simple sugars.)

  1. Stop aiming for perfection

There will be times when you won’t have access to the best quality ingredients. You may only have access to mass produced GMO vegetables and not the preferred home grown organic varieties for example. Don’t stop eating vegetables during these times-any vegetables are better than none at all! Similarly, you may be invited to a function at which the healthy food choices are few and far between, in such cases the best thing to do is to plan ahead and have a healthy protein rich snack before you go, eg lean biltong or a small handful of almonds. This will help you feel satiated and resist those tempting treats. If you forget to eat before, hey, it happens, don’t deprive yourself if you’re hungry! There will likely always be options that although not ideal are more suitable than others. For example choose protein sources like chicken or fish from a platter rather than a sandwich, pastry or other carbohydrate rich snack. Sometimes you do the best you can with the circumstances you find yourself in with the knowledge that you have choices and control over those choices. In the grand scheme of things these occasions are generally few and far between and are not the deal breakers in your overall health journey, so just ride them out the best you can.