Every modern society has laws or rules that are meant to be followed and obeyed. Things like traffic laws, paying taxes or even rules that govern every sport you can imagine. We all know what happens if we have no rules, right? Yes, chaos ensues and our society begins to fall apart. Yikes! The same thing is true with your fat loss goals. I have always been a firm believer in having what I call “food rules” that govern the way I eat. Remembering that it’s impossible to out train a bad diet, if you obey your food rules it is easier to stay on track and make sure that you are only consuming foods that are taking you closer to your goals, not farther away from them.

That being said, I want to share some of my own personal food rules with you today. These are certainly not rocket science, and mainly deal in the realm of common sense. Of course, that’s not to say that obeying these food rules is an easy task. No way! It’s a daily, or even hourly chore to stay on top of them and make sure that you’re not breaking any of your eating laws, because the resulting chaos in this case, leads to only one thing… FAT!

The first food rule that I want to ask you to obey is one of my favorites: Don’t Eat From a Bag or a Box. Quite simply, stay away from processed foods of all kinds. They have no place in the diet of a healthy, fit person. I use the examples of bags and boxes here because quite often that is how processed foods are presented to us. They can sit on a supermarket shelf, without any refrigeration for many months because they are so chemically-laden with preservatives. Your body doesn’t know what to do with these strange substances, so it does what comes naturally, and stores them as fat on your hips, thighs or around your middle. Don’t give your body an opportunity to store these. If they don’t get eaten, they can’t be stored, right? This rule leads me to another one of my favorite statements about shopping for your food, “if you can’t pronounce even one of the ingredients on the label, don’t buy it.”

My next rule will only come into play when you go out to eat: Order First, and Don’t be Afraid to Ask for What You Want. There seems to be some misconception that when we go out to eat at a restaurant, all of the food rules go right out the window. Don’t fall prey to this trap please. Going out to eat is one of the most enjoyable things that you can do, so make sure that you obey your food rules even when you’re not at home. There’s nothing that spoils a nice dinner out more than that terrible feeling of guilt that sets in after you’ve devoured your fat-laden meal, and chased it with the triple chocolate explosion cake! It doesn’t matter how many people are in your dinner party, try to be the first one at the table who places their order. This will help eliminate the temptations that come from listening to what the others are ordering and then changing your mind. Also, stay firm with your good eating habits, and if there is anything questionable that comes with your meal, ask your server to either omit it and/or to exchange it with a healthier alternative. For example, if the standard sides with your main are vegetables and french fries, ask them to double-up on the veggies and hold the fries. I have never encountered a restaurant that will not accommodate a request like this. Plus, chances are that someone else at the table will have fries with their meal, and will gladly give you a couple to taste!

Number three sounds like the easiest food rule to obey, yet it can be the most difficult, and can cause you to quickly turn a good day of eating into a very bad one: No Eating in the Car. Period. The advent of the drive-through window has been one of the hardest things for trainers like me to fight against on behalf of our clients. So many of us spend an outrageous amount of time behind the wheel these days with longer commutes to work, and long day trips at holiday time that it’s no wonder that the fast food chains can build one of their “restaurants” almost overnight, and they seem to be popping up almost everywhere. Of course, no fast food restaurant is complete without a drive-through window. They make it so easy for us to fail, so easy for us to break our food rules. I say, don’t give in to their temptations! Be strong, and drive right on by! You’ve got plenty of healthy food waiting for you at home after all, right? Just think of all the good you’re doing by obeying this food rule: No idling of your engine in the drive-through line, so fewer emissions; less landfill waste from all that fast food garbage that piles up in your vehicle; and best of all, a positive step forward towards your fat loss goals (that’s the best one).

Finally, I want to leave you with a food rule specifically geared to the way I like to handle my eating as it relates to my fitness programs: Keep Your Cheat Day Sacred. If you’re not familiar with what a cheat day is, it quite simply is one day each week when you allow yourself to eat anything you want to, without guilt or fear of failing. I encourage everyone to have and maintain a cheat day per week. The cheat day gives you and your brain a rest from having to stay focused on your goals the rest of the week. The cheat day is a must if you are to succeed with fat loss. However, the cheat day is just that ONE DAY. It’s not a cheat couple of days, or a cheat week, it’s a cheat DAY. Keep it sacred, and keep it to a single day, or it can easily get away from you and turn into complete chaos. Your cheat day is also the perfect time to go shopping for all of your healthy, natural foods for the week ahead.