Turn Yourself into The Batman (of healthy eating)
Updated: Dec 7, 2018
These are all words that could be used to describe what someone must possess in order to maintain a healthy diet (The word "diet," in this case, as it relates to an overall lifestyle - not Atkins). They are tools that we fall back on when all else fails and we find ourselves staring into the fridge after a rough day at work.
They also describe Batman.
That's right, I'm talking about the Caped Crusader himself. Next to Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern, for those less familiar with DC comics than I), Batman possesses more willpower, motivation, and determination than any other character in the DC comics universe. In fact, they are inherent to his character. Batman has, time and time again, been able to outwit, outfight, and outlast even the most powerful supervillains (and heroes!) in comics through sheer grit and determination. Some would say that's his superpower. The thing about Batman, though, is he doesn't just possess more motivation and willpower than almost every other superhero, he's also one of the smartest strategic thinkers in comics. There is no situation or contingency he hasn't thought about and planned for before going out to battle against the evils that plague Gotham City (does anyone else feel like watching The Dark Knight right about now?).
You're asking how this applies to nutrition.
We all have our own situations and triggers that we know cause us to choose quick, easy, and unhealthy foods rather than healthy ones. I'm at my weakest at the end of the day, when I'm tired and all I want to do is throw something in the microwave and veg out in front of the tv. But, like Batman, I know this is a weakness of mine and I try to plan for when those moments might arise. Let me explain what I mean. Below are five common scenarios most of us will face that can make it hard to make healthy food choices, as well as strategies you can use to keep from falling to the forces of darkness. Sorry about the melodrama - it gets away from me when I'm talking about comics.
Almost without fail, traveling is a situation where people have their biggest "diet fails." We're in a rush, dehydrated, enjoying ourselves (hopefully), hungry at all hours of the day, and assaulted with the tempting smells of delicious fried foods and sugar that sap our willpower. You know what the Dark Knight would do? He'd pack a third small carry-on bag just for food. That's right, I said a third bag. Did you know airlines will allow extra bags if they believe it is from the food court at the airport? A canvas bag that you use for groceries works best (and then you can also use it for grocery or market shopping on your trip!). Throw in a few apples, trail mix, sandwiches, snack bars - whatever you think will get you through not only the actual flight, but the first day at your destination as well. You could also grab a to-go container from the grocery store the week of your trip and mix a salad in it for the flight. This will start your vacation off right and help maintain your healthy eating momentum.
The End of a Long Day
We've talked about it before, but our willpower is highest in the morning, and slowly plummets as the day goes on. So doesn't it make sense to map out your day and set yourself up to succeed once evening comes? I know Batman would. Try preparing the next day's meals the night before. Some easy suggestions: pre-chop your veggies, put a big pot of beans on simmer, cook your quinoa or rice, or bake some sweet potatoes the evening before, so all you have to do is heat them once you get home and they are ready by the time you've tossed your salad with your homemade dressing.
The Late-Night Snack Attack
Late night snacks are the best/worst. I mean, of course, everything tastes amazing when you're there, in the trenches. But after...it's like going back with your ex for one last fling. It sounds great, it's good for about 20 minutes, then you're left with nothing but shame and guilt (this is where the analogy breaks down - Batman has some serious relationship issues). Late night snacks are an easy way to gain those pesky pounds that are super obnoxious. I call them, "shame pounds." Two things that have worked for me: 1) if you front-load your day with a great breakfast, you will usually not be tempted with late-night snacking. Your body won't be craving those calories/nutrients it hasn't picked up. 2) If you must partake in some late-night snacking, make it something light that is easily digested. Try an apple with a smear of almond butter or some oatmeal.
Because It's There
If it's not in your pantry, it can't go in your mouth. (This is assuming you don't live on takeout - and if so, take that money that you would be spending on your lousy habit and treat yourself to a massage at the end of the month!) Like #2 addresses, willpower is highest in the morning. So plan out your shopping list before you go to the grocery store. Look through your favorite blogs and cookbooks to find good recipes to make that week and only get that stuff. Oh, and go after you've had a meal. Try and stay on track, unless it's a killer sale, and don't forget to pick-up some options that you might want when you are feeling desperate. Dates. cacao nibs, maple syrup, coconut, and old-fashioned oats are some of my go-to foods for a special snack. Frozen banana slices and almond butter mixed with just about anything makes for amazing ice-cream.
One Habit Triggers Another
Habits are tricky devils - doubly so when you have one habit that then makes you engage in another. If you have a habit of overeating right when you get home from work, snacking after dinner in front of the TV, or having that donut (or five) on the weekends, try mixing it up. Changing your routine might make all the difference. Instead of coming home and heading for the fridge, take your dog for a walk. After you finish dinner, instead of thinking about reaching for a snack, try doing some yoga or guided meditation. In all, just be more mindful about how you go about your day. Create strategies that you can apply to the various situations in your life that cause you to lose focus on making healthy choices.
Just be like Batman.