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How to Prevent Diet-Induced Mental Fog

How to Prevent Diet-Induced Mental Fog

We’ve all been there.

We decide to start eating healthy and it all goes well for a while. Then, one stressful day we realize that we have nothing to eat for dinner. We’re hungry, we’re tired, and we just can’t seem to think of anything healthy to eat. The fridge appears empty and it’s actually hard to remember why we wanted to eat healthy in the first place.

This is what I like to call diet-induced “mental fog“ or “brain fog.”

This is the feeling we get when we’re hungry, can’t think of anything healthy to eat, and can barely remember why we want to avoid unhealthy food.

When this happens, our chances of a full-blown junk food binge increase substantially.

It’s Not A Matter Of “If,” But “When”

This mental state will occur sooner rather than later. You scared? You should be!

But there is no need to panic because I have a few tips that can circumvent this sort of situation.

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This involves writing down solutions to your problems while you are clearheaded and having them on hand when your brain suddenly decides to turn into an organic vegetable.

There are five different lists that can help here.

Planning Meals Ahead Of Time

Planning your meals ahead of time can work wonders. You will never have to worry about what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner because you’ve already planned it.

You can do this once per week, once every two weeks, or perhaps just a few days in advance.

This way, you will know what you need to buy at the supermarket and you won’t find yourself standing ravenously hungry in front of an empty fridge (or a colorful and tempting vending machine).

Write Down What You Lose By Avoiding Bad Food

I recommend writing a list of the sacrifices you make by avoiding unhealthy foods.

This can include things like, “can’t eat cakes at birthday parties,” “can’t eat my way out of feeling blue,” or “will have to cut back on my favorite food, pizza.”

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Write Down What You Gain By Choosing Healthy Foods

This list should include all the benefits you believe you will gain by eating healthy foods to boost your metabolism.

This list might include things like, “I’ll look good in clothes,” “I’ll look good naked,” “I’ll feel comfortable in my own skin,” “I won’t feel like people are judging me,” and “I will live a longer, healthier life.”

Compare These Two Lists And Make An Informed Decision

These two lists are the facts. You wrote them when you were fully conscious and clearheaded. Now look at both lists and compare them.

Which is more important to you? The things you lose by avoiding junk foods or the things you gain by eating healthy foods?

Make a logical decision. Most likely you will think that the benefits of eating healthy far outweigh the negatives. Write it down on your list.

It could say something like: “I have made a logical decision that the benefits of eating a healthy diet far outweigh the negatives.”

Say it out loud and repeat it a few times!

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A List Of Healthy Fast Food Places

There are actually many “fast food” places out there that do serve healthy food.

One place that I like to go to serves foods that are mostly unprocessed, organic, and made with ingredients that are natural.

Many places that generally serve unhealthy food do have healthier options. Many burger joints may also serve a steak with a baked potato. Some places have bacon and eggs or a chicken salad.

Look around, call, ask your friends, look on the internet. You will find these places if you look.

Write them down. Have a list of 5-10 “fast-food” places that you can eat at that are reasonable alternatives to a healthy, home-cooked meal.

A List Of “Dirty” Meals

Sometimes, we get these cravings for something energy dense and “dirty” like a hamburger or a pizza.

When this happens, we might even feel disgusted by the thought of eating healthy stuff like fish or vegetables.

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During these moments, having a list of “dirty” but still relatively healthy meals can help.

My go-to dirty meals are:

  • 5-6 eggs, fried in butter, mixed with fatty cheese and garlic. Fry until cheese gets a grilled texture.
  • Ground beef, fried in butter with fatty cheese, salt, pepper and some garlic. Fry until cheese gets a grilled texture.

These meals taste somewhat like they might be related to junk foods, but they are actually much better choices than actual junk food.

Your Emergency Manual

I recommend you write these lists on your computer and print them out. Possibly print several copies.

Keep them with you where they might be needed — in your glove compartment, on your fridge (or hidden near it), in your desk at work.

Look at it like your emergency manual. This is your go-to manual for what to do to survive a junk food craving “emergency.”

When the mental fog sets in, having lists like these to remind yourself why you are eating healthy and what you can do to get a healthy meal can literally make or break your weight loss efforts.

Featured photo credit: istockphoto via media.istockphoto.com

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Jae Berman

Health Writer

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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