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We're all human, so it's normal to get sidetracked when trying to eat healthy. But falling off the wagon doesn't mean having to stay off.

Arielle Weg
July 26, 2017

You told yourself it would be just one meal out with friends, but the next thing you know it's been three days and you haven't consumed one thing you consider healthy. It was faster to grab a pastry in the morning from the local coffee shop and your coworkers were ordering Chinese food for lunch, and suddenly the days just got away from you.

Life happens, so it's totally natural—and OK—to stray from our healthy habits. The important thing is staying motivated and having the tools to get yourself back on track, because you have the ability to reach your goals even with a little detour. Members of the Cooking Light Diet struggle with getting back on the road to health every day. We pooled their collective best advice on how they get back on track after falling off the rails. Here's what they had to say. 

One Meal at a Time

Jumping right back in after falling off the wagon works for some, but for others it might require a little time. After all, healthy eating is a lot harder to do than eating unhealthily. Cooking Light Diet member Andrea Haight likes to start over by focusing on the one meal she has the most trouble with managing portion size and caloric value: Dinner. By taking it one meal at a time, getting back on track becomes more manageable. Ashley Belbeck agrees. She advises to, "Start with one meal. Make just one and then make another. Then another. Sometimes it helps to start small." You don't have to go headlong back into something you know will take time, and taking that time could end up making the process a permanent one. 

Track Food

Having a sense of control is the most important factor when it comes to sticking to a diet. Nobody wants to be told what to do and eat, and they especially don't want to feel so out of control they quit. Anne Egelhof Ritchie likes to keep track of all her healthy habits using free smart phone applications like MyFitnessPal. Even though she knows calories are counted for her on the Cooking Light Diet, the ability to track her water intake, food, and exercise gives her a sense of control and helps her stay focused. 

Applaud Yourself

Everyone has a "bad food day," and it's a natural part of trying to eat healthy when surrounded by multitudinous options. Every time you choose something grilled over fried, pat yourself on the back. If you snag a piece of fruit instead of something from the vending machine, congratulate yourself. Every healthy decision you make, big or small, is worth celebrating. 

Community member Anne Egelhof Ritchie says, "When I have a day of slipping back into old habits, I go back and look at how far I've come. So check your meal plan, plan your day and celebrate the new healthier you!"

It's Okay to Treat Yourself

There's nothing worse than turning down social plans because you worry about controlling your eating at a dinner or celebration. Shelly Grubman focuses on eating healthy the majority of the week, but allows herself little splurges every so often to keep herself from falling off the wagon.

Member Michelle Canning also treats herself from time to time in order to stay on track. She gifts herself one meal per week to eat and drink whatever she wants so she doesn't feel deprived the rest of the week. She'll treat herself to a night out and press pause on her meal planning, then get back on track the next day. Eating healthy is already hard, so there's no sense in making it harder by guilting yourself into feeling bad for a little splurge. Just get back on the wagon the next meal!

Prepare for Success, Keep Healthy in Sight

When hunger strikes, you're going to eat whatever is available to you. If you open up the pantry and find a bag of chips, you can only guess what you'll have during snack time. It's important to stock your fridge and pantry with healthy options you'll need to stay on track throughout the week. If you have dinner ready to go or fruit on hand, you're less likely to splurge on something unhealthy. 

Cooking Light Diet community member Shelly Grubman likes to buy all of her ingredients for the week and prepare anything she can in advance. She'll cut vegetables earlier in the week and keep healthy snacks ready to go for every day. Member Cynthia Mason Moran sticks to a specific list when grocery shopping to help control her eating when she's home. When she craves sweets, she's forced to grab a piece of fruit instead of chocolate or sweets—because she didn't buy it at the store. She's found it to be a fantastic way to get rid of her cravings and stay on track. Arm yourself with healthy options and you won't be as likely to succumb to junk food when the hunger pangs hit. 

Jump Right In

After a high calorie dinner or one too many slices of pie for dessert, you may come down harder on yourself than you should. Don't tell yourself you'll start again next week. Instead, jump right back in! Don't let one bad decision dictate your healthy habits going forward. 

Cooking Light Diet member Joan Rasmussen says, "Everyone falls off. Some harder than others. But you can't undo it, so forgive yourself and immediately get back on plan. Remind yourself of why you are doing this in the first place." Andi Bean agrees. When she finds she's fallen off the rails, she reminds herself that she can't just say she'll get back on another day. She tells herself to start again the very next meal, and applauds herself for making even the tiniest of changes. 

These are just a few of the many examples of real people getting back on the road to health via the Cooking Light Diet. For more, head to the Facebook community, or learn more at CookingLightDiet.com.