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How To Avoid These 5 Common Food Traps

We all know that to run our best, we have to eat healthy, right? The proper food fuels your runs, helps you recover and keeps you feeling great. But… it’s easier said than done. There are countless challenges and temptations out there just waiting to steer you off the right path and deep into a box of cookies. So what’s a runner with the greatest intentions and an even greater sweet tooth to do? Take a bite out of these common food traps and the tips to stay on track.

The weekend free-for-all
For some reason, the structure of the week makes it so much easier to eat right. But when the weekend rolls around, it can feel like a food free-for-all. Saturday night drinks, late night snacks, Sunday brunch—it’s so easy to pretend calories don’t count or justify tons of treats after a healthy week. You can easily cancel out all your hard work with an indulgent couple of days and feel too bloated for your long run.

The fix: Treat yourself to one decadent meal or dessert, but go for healthy choices fir the rest of the weekend. Looking forward to something special will not only make it taste even better, but will motivate you to eat well otherwise so you can indulge without the bulge (or guilt).

Related: Simple Ways To Detox After An Indulgent Weekend

The everyday celebration
Doesn’t it seem like there’s an excuse to eat junk food every day, such as the cake for a colleague’s birthday or the bake sale at your kid’s school. It’s easy to justify a bite of something bad when it’s for something good. But those daily celebrations add up quickly and can leave you too sluggish to work out.

The fix: Choose just one celebration each week to indulge. Go with the one you’re most looking forward to or the one you know will be the hardest to resist (I’m looking at you, office cupcakes). Knowing ahead of time that you have a splurge coming will make it a little easier to say no to the others.

The reward
Why is it that you always feel like you deserve an entire pizza after running a few miles? The post-run hunger and the virtuous feeling from working out can make you feel like you can eat whatever you want, even though you know the calories most definitely don’t equal out and the junk won’t properly refuel you.

The fix: First of all, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of a post-run snack; it’s important to refuel, but it’s key to choose something healthy and balanced like an apple and peanut butter. If you still crave a reward for a tough run, make it something other than food, like a massage, pedicure or new workout tank.

The group outing
Who hasn’t been in this situation: you’re out to dinner with friends, all set to order the fish and steamed veggies, but your pal orders the burger, and someone else orders the lasagna. All of a sudden your will power is gone and you’re ordering deep-fried everything.

The fix: When the waiter arrives, don’t be afraid to speak up and order first. If you hear decadent orders, you may be more tempted into picking something unhealthy. If you find yourself feeling weak just looking at all the choices, review the menu online ahead of time and commit to a healthy entrée before you even arrive.

Related: How To Fit Fast Food Into A Runner’s Diet

The fleeting treat
How many times have you bought the Ben and Jerry’s because it was on sale? Or ordered the creamy, cheesy pasta because it was the special at the restaurant? It’s so easy to eat like crap when it feels like it’s a one-time-only opportunity – who wants to miss out?

The fix: This one requires a bit of a mental pep talk. You’ll need some kind of mantra to remind yourself that the world won’t end if you don’t taste the latest limited-edition Oreos; try “not this time,” “I’d rather have my health,” or “this doesn’t fit my goals.” Whatever it takes to trigger your brain to remember your healthy eating goals and just say no to temptation.

Alison Barsalona

Alison Barsalona started running when her best friend decided they should join the cross-country team in high school. After trading running for the equestrian team in college, she found her way back to the treadmill when she realized her gym subscribed to Bravo and Food Network. She's lived in six states and always finds the best routes to run in each new town as soon as she moves in (right after finding the best pizza place). A new mom, she now lives in Delaware and is busy perfecting the art of the jogging stroller.