It’s okay if your diet isn’t okay at the moment

We all know that making a healthy habit is good for us, but it’s hard work, and avoiding falling back into bad habits is even tougher. So what can you do?

When you’re trying to switch to a healthier lifestyle, it can be disheartening when you suffer a setback or two. Think of this whole article as a friendly reminder that it’s okay to not be eating okay.

From time to time, many of us try to carry on as if a situation isn’t affecting us, and if not, we might be feeling guilty about not exercising as much as we could or taking the time to cook three substantial, nutritious meals a day.

And that's fine.

It’s okay to have a big plate of bacon and eggs for a morning-after-the-night-before breakfast sometimes. It’s perfectly acceptable to act a little differently from how you think you should be to get through a difficult time. Rather binge-watch your favourite TV show instead of going for a run? That’s absolutely fine, as well.

But if you’re stuck in a bit of a rut and want to get back on track, then we’ve got some nutrition tips below (and a few more here). Our advice is don’t try and do them all at once – baby steps! – and whatever you do take on board, do with some consistency to help form a habit.

How food can affect your mood

Create some structure

Eat around the same time each day – this taps into chrononutrition. Fancy right? What we are saying is that the body has its own internal clock and by eating around the same time each day, it helps to keep this clock ticking correctly, which is important for keeping other areas of our life in check like sleeping.

Everything in moderation

Moderation isn’t a fun word, but hear us out…

If you find that you’re eating a whole share bag to yourself, or you’re checking the food label and it says ‘Serves 4’ and you chuckle, there are easy ways around this. Put a smaller portion onto a plate or bowl so you don’t have to think about stopping eating. When your plate is empty, it’s empty. Bulk buys are likely to be cheaper per serving so try segmenting these large purchases into a more reasonable size. The other portions can then be kept in an airtight container or frozen.

How to control your cravings

Plan your meals

Who doesn’t love scouring cookbooks for the perfect recipe? It can be exciting to plan a few meals each week, and go through the process of looking for a recipe, however simple that may be. You can do this by yourself, with the people you live with or even friends over video call so you can cook together! Just by cooking instead of picking up a ready meal, you’re probably going to cook something more nutritious by default.

Keep a food diary

Especially for your snacks, because if you’re locked down at home it means you’re probably snacking more. If you want to reduce snacking, try to switch to more nutritious snacks such as dried fruit or nuts which provide more than just calories. A food diary can help with this and can also nudge you towards being more mindful of those subconscious snacking occasions.

Short-term fixes

You can comfort yourself with more than comfort foods – during tough times we can fall back on certain foods, particularly those high in sugar, fat and salt, to make us feel better. We’ve all done it.

This is fine from time to time but it’s only dealing with the symptoms, not the cause. If you can, try exercising. What that looks like is up to you – it can be walking, yoga in front of the telly, a bike ride, or something else you enjoy.

So there you have it. A few ways to start getting into healthier habits, and sticking with them. But, if you do fancy breaking your own rules from time to time, we won’t tell anyone...

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