Texting Reminders to Eat Healthy

By Charles Platkin, PhD

I think we all have good intentions when it comes to eating healthy and exercising more. The problem is that when we’re in that moment, trying to make the “right” decision, many of us drop the ball. But what if there were ways to have someone tap you on the shoulder or give you a quick glance or nudge to remind you to stay on course­almost as if your current self were telling your future self what to do in the moment. Impossible you say?

I think we all have good intentions when it comes to eating healthy and exercising more. The problem is that when we’re in that moment, trying to make the “right” decision, many of us drop the ball. But what if there were ways to have someone tap you on the shoulder or give you a quick glance or nudge to remind you to stay on course­almost as if your current self were telling your future self what to do in the moment. Impossible you say? Not exactly. You can create reminders via email and (or smart phone calendar functions) that will send you messages to support your healthy behaviors right in the moment.

All smart phones today have calendar functions that you should learn how to use. They provide alerts, alarms and messages that can help you to remind yourself to stay on track. With both Android operating systems (see: https://support.google.com/androidwear/answer/6056812?hl=en) and the iPhone you can even set alerts by just talking to your phone. And they both also have location-based reminder apps. For the iPhone see ( https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202335) and for Android phones go to https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/3122344?hl=en)

There are also text-based reminders you can set up with your calendar. Google Calendar supports that function, and it is pretty simple to set up (you can get the app for Android or iPhone). When you create an event, you can send email reminders and text messages very simply at various times. See: https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/45351?hl=en. Another service, Oh Don’t Forget (www.ohdontforget.com), costs $.03 per text and is also relatively simple to use.

Now, if you really want to get fancy, there are some telephone reminder services too. I did a brief test with Snoozester.com. It was very easy to set up and you can create either phone calls or text-based reminders. You can also have the call be re-occurring – there is even a snooze button. The cost – between 3.99 (35 calls) and 14.99 (250 calls) per month. Another company, Voiceshot (voiceshot.com), does similar things but has many more features and will also allow you to use your own voice (or someone else’s) to do the reminding. It even has an answering machine option. The cost for Voiceshot is about $15 per month for 150 phone calls, and if you add texts it’s another $10 (plus the cost of the texts).

So how should you set up your reminders? What should they say? Here are a few suggestions:

Eating Out 

Many of you go to the restaurant intending to eat healthier, but by the time you leave, you realize it was more difficult than you thought. . So what are some strategies you can apply to eating healthy during restaurant meal times?  Here are the types of reminders you might set for yourself before you go out to eat–and perhaps during the meal as well:

A few hours before the meal (Sample phone or text messages)
–       Check menu online, pick 3 choices.
–       What are you going to drink?
–       Mentally rehearse eating healthy (step-by-step) in your favorite restaurant.

During the meal (Sample phone or text messages)
–       Order 1 of the 3 healthy dishes you chose online.
–       Look for any of the following: baked, grilled, broiled, poached or steamed.
–       Ask how your dish is prepared even if it’s called “light” on the menu.
–       Skip the bread, order water, unsweetened iced tea or seltzer.
–       Get all dressings, butter, sour cream and sauces on the side.
–       Eat slowly and take small bites. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register feelings of fullness.

When You’re Cooking at Home

Early in the day, 6 hours prior to dinner
 (Sample phone or text messages)
–       What are you going to eat for dinner? Here are a couple of healthy meals: Baked chicken, grilled salmon with garlic and broccoli.
–       Go to eatingwell.comcookinglight.comallrecipes.com.
–       Remove skin from poultry before you eat
–       Pay attention to your portion sizes.
–       Eat your vegetables first, when you’re hungriest.

Shopping Reminders

Prior to shopping
 (Sample phone or text messages)
–       Eat before you shop: Make sure you have a full stomach when you go to the store. Hunger can lead to impulse buying.
–       Plan before shopping, and make a list: Come up with general categories, such as soups, stews, stir-fries and grains.

While shopping (Sample phone or text messages)

–       Avoid the dirty dozen – for example: peaches, apples, celery, sweet bell peppers and strawberries (see:http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php)­or at least buy these fruits and veggies organic
–       Look for leaner cuts of beef: The leanest cuts include round steaks and roasts (eye round, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, and top sirloin.
–       Look for lean ground beef: Look for at least 90 percent lean. You may even be able to find ground beef that is 93 percent or 95 percent lean.
–       Avoid meat that is heavily marbled–that is, streaked with fat. Look for meat with the least amount of visible fat.
–       Look for leaner cuts of pork: The leanest pork choices include loin, tenderloin, center loin and ham.

Prime-Time TV Snacking

This can be the most difficult time of day for many people. Either you’re a kitchen lingerer or you’re sitting in front of the television after a long day and mindlessly munching on unhealthy foods. You want a party for your mind and your mouth.This is a very hard habit to break. Why? Because just deciding to sit down on the couch or chair and watch TV triggers your desire for snacks.

(Sample phone or text messages)
–       Kitchen closes in 10 minutes; make your healthy snacks now.
–       Don’t eat in your snack-free zones.
–       No munching on high-calorie snacks while the commercials are on.
–       No picking while standing in front of the fridge, and no digging into the half-gallon of ice cream with a spoon.
–       Prepare a variety of healthful snacks in advance. If you have everything set up, you’ll have a better chance.
–       Cut it up: Cut up vegetables, such as onions, broccoli, peppers and asparagus, in advance. Put them in pre-portioned baggies or containers and store them in the fridge.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Make appointments to work out: Think of your workouts as “appointments.” Record them in your calendar as you would any other appointment.
 
(Sample phone or text messages)
–       Time to get up and take a walk.
–       Stand up and walk away from your desk for a few minutes.
–       Exercise now – 10 push-ups.
–       Exercise now – Do a 60-second wall-sit.
–       Time to stretch at your desk – here are a few exercises: http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/3458/the-3-stretches-you-should-be-doing-if-you/

Self-Affirmations and Motivational Quotes

Give yourself a pep talk. Start by creating affirmations: strong, positive statements asserting that something desirable about yourself is, in fact, true. The idea is to use your words to help you succeed by “talking to yourself about yourself” in a positive light. See: http://www.dietdetective.com/weekly-column/self-talk-and-affirmations

Affirmations (Sample phone or text messages)
–       I am a beautiful person and I deserve to look the way I want to look.
–       I’m a strong, powerful woman (or man)!
–       I’m beautiful, I’m kind, and I deserve the best.
–       I’m intelligent, I’m beautiful and I’m a wonderful person.
–       If I set my mind to succeed, I will.
–       is a choice – and I choose health!
–       My life and health are gifts.
–       Never give up!

Motivational Quotes (Sample phone or text messages)

–       “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
-Henry Ford
–       “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson


Tags:  diet health healthy eating Technology Text Text Reminders




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