If making healthy eating choices was easy, our fridges would be covered with gold stars. But even the best eating intentions get derailed on a daily basis. Why? According to a new poll of more than 1,000 women by ShopSmart magazine, four obstacles in particular make eating well harder than it needs to be. Lucky for you, ladies, we’ve rounded up the best ways to combat each diet-busting excuse:
1. Excuse: “Healthy foods are too expensive.” More than half of the women polled said cost was the reason they don’t eat healthy foods.
Busted! Popular to contrary belief, eating fresh produce and other healthy foods actually costs less than foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, finds a new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Comparing the cost of foods by weight or portion size shows that grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy foods are less expensive than junk foods. Add in the countless benefits of eating healthy foods, and you’ve got a price than can’t be beat. Check out our advice on how to slash your grocery bill the healthy way.
2. Excuse: “Lunch just isn’t a healthy meal to eat.” Seventy-two percent of women said lunch was their least healthy meal of the day.
Busted! Acing your lunchtime meal is all about thinking ahead; it’s making decisions on the fly—when you’re hungry and likely stressed—that gets you into trouble. "Have your go-to thing,” said Keri Glassman, author of Slim Calm Sexy Diet. “For people in an office, have your three go-to restaurants, and have two meals at each place you know are healthy—that way, your healthy choices are already mapped out," she said. Another smart option is bringing your lunch from home. “Make it after dinner,” said Glassman, “so you're not hungry and it's not an impulse decision." For more ways to guarantee healthy lunch success, check out our lunchtime meal planner.
3. Excuse: “My friends made me do it.” Forty-seven percent of women say social temptations are a barrier to eating healthy, and 44% say they’re more likely to eat poorly when they’re with people compared to eating alone.
Busted! No question, it can be hard to stick to your healthy eating plan when your buddies are downing dinner rolls by the half-dozen. But with a little pre-dinner planning, you can save a girls’ night out from being a diet disaster. Start by having a snack beforehand (so you won’t dive headfirst into the first appetizer you see), and check out the menu online to make your selection before peer pressure can take hold. Find more advice with this guide to dining out wisely.
4. Excuse: “I can’t curb my cravings.” If the bakery aisle of the grocery store calls your name a little too loudly, you’re in good company: 63% of women admit to having regular cravings—with the number one culprit being chocolate.
Busted! What should you do the next time a craving hits? “I always tell people, ‘don't eat around a craving,’" said Glassman. Instead, find a healthy way to enjoy it. For example, if chocolate is what you’re jonesing for, have a green tea latte with an ounce of dark chocolate, she says. “Or try a couple squares of dark chocolate in your Greek yogurt, so you're getting calcium and protein, too." Follow these six other tips for keeping cravings in check.