12-week wellness program

4 Easy Steps to Addressing Healthy-Eating Challenges

Enlist a specific strategy to beat unhealthy eating situations.


It’s likely that despite your best intentions, you may be faced with a scenario where it’s difficult to make a healthy choice. Maybe it’s a result of limited food options (perhaps you’re traveling), or maybe it’s due to social pressures (think: birthday party). Whatever the reason, it always helps to go in with a plan—or at least a strategy to help deal with diet saboteurs.

In general, problem solving involves four steps:

1. Identify the problem.

2. Generate a list of possible solutions.

3. Choose a solution.

4. Implement the plan.

One way to show how the problem-solving process works is to apply it to a familiar scenario: Let’s say that every Sunday, your sister-in-law—we’ll call her Mary—makes a high-calorie brunch for the extended family, and your presence is, to put it mildly, required. You wouldn’t normally choose to eat the foods that are prepared—but if you decline what’s being served, Mary makes it clear that she feels insulted. Here’s how you might tackle the problem.

1. Define the problem:

• Mary feels hurt when someone doesn’t eat her specialties; you want to please her.

• Despite knowing your health challenges, she doesn’t offer any healthful options at her brunches.

• Other relatives who enjoy the meal encourage you to join in, saying it’s fine for people with diabetes to eat the sorts of food Mary serves—just in smaller amounts. “A little bit won’t hurt you.”

• Brunch is usually right after church, when you’re hungry, which makes it harder for you to say no, or to stick with small portions.

2. Generate possible solutions:

• You could refuse the invitation to brunch.

• You could discuss your concerns with Mary and try to work out a compromise—say, offer to bring a healthier dish to complement her menu.

• You could eat a light snack before the brunch.

3. Choose a solution:

Select what seems to be the best solution; it doesn’t have to be the perfect solution. Make as many people happy as you can, but be assertive about what you need, too. There’s no single “right” way to handle every problem, and what works in one situation might not work in another. For some, having a light snack beforehand to cut hunger might do the trick; others might feel it’s necessary to discuss the issue with Mary to give her a better understanding of the problem.

4. Implement the plan:

Take action as soon as you’ve chosen a solution—and later, assess its effectiveness. If it didn’t work as well as you would have liked, don’t worry. Many problems require multiple attempts before reaching resolution. Go back to the drawing board and try another strategy.

By EatingWell.com. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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