The 7 Spheres of Diet Food Challenges, and How to Handle Each One

iDiet is based on nutrition science, neurobiology and applied psychology. We take all this and simplify it down to easy-to-implement steps. As part of this comprehensive research-based foundation, we emphasize planning, thinking in advance, and good preparation. This streamlines healthy habit formation. iDiet’s strategic teaching approach begins with your most common situations, like weekday meals, and works outward to your least common food situations — including emergencies. This article provides an overview of strategies for the 7 most common food situations to give you a framework for identifying your own challenges and some possible approaches.

1 At Home

homeThe best way to create new healthy habits is to repeat them daily. So weekday breakfasts, lunches and snacks are the most obvious starting places. Most people eat the same things for breakfast daily, so we swap in healthy, satisfying, hunger-supressing meals here. Most people also have a set of favorite lunches and snacks, and we provide EasyPlan lunch and snack options that fit your customized calorie level and food preferences. You can apply the same idea by choosing meals and snacks that fit your dietary goals and repeat them until they become familiar, easy, preferable, and automatic. Evening meals are where people tend to want more variety — and the evening meal is also where people tend to lose control. So we provide tasty, filling EasyPlan meal options that are satisfying and filling while helping you stay in control. Again, moderate variety within a framework of repetition is key — you want enough variety to prevent boredom, while limiting choices enough to curtail overstimulation that leads to overeating.

Home is where people often eat extra snacks, have diet-damaging desserts, eat in front of the TV or computer, and generally sneak in more calories than they need. It’s important to notice and limit this eating. In iDiet, we help you sanitize your kitchen, substitute healthy snacks for bad ones, and provide dessert options that limit calories while increasing fullness.

2 At Work

workIf you work outside the home, work lunches and snacks are similar in concept to home lunches in that repetition and planning are key. You likely have a limited set of places you go and items you order. We encourage packing healthy lunches, but will also help you make good choices if you are ordering or eating out. We recommend selecting a few safe and healthy choices, and repeating them until the healthy choices become familiar and preferable.

3 Weekends

weekendThere are fewer weekend days than weekdays, so it takes longer to form new food habits on weekends. Plus you will experience variations in your schedule week to week and season to season, plus the regular need to run errands, do chores and lead a full life, so weekends present many challenges. Starting with a good breakfast will set a good tone for the day. If you’ll be leaving the house, take your food with you. If you can predict your day, plan healthy food to carry you through, and bring healthy snacks and extra water if you are out and about, to prevent being tempted by our oversaturated and competitive retail food environment. Our EasyPlans, recipes and healthy-habit coaching help you here as well.

Today's food environment is full of toxic over-supply and excessive quantities, calories, sugar, salt and fat. Be strategic when you leave your house. Share on X

4 Social, Recurring

social 2This category covers events like bowling night, kids’ activities and sports, book clubs, poker night etc. Anything that’s outside the home but recurs regularly. The fact it recurs and is predictable means you can plan strategies to deal with it, rather than pretending it’s a surprise and saying “oh well, I guess I have to eat the pizza they ordered”, instead of bringing something diet-friendly with you. Never, ever expect someone else to feed you healthy food! It’s your responsibility to take care of your health needs. State your needs clearly, and you don’t need to apologize for making a healthy choice. We discuss many ways to deal with this proactively and gracefully in iDiet classes.

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5 Social, Occasional

social 1This covers non-recurring events like a hike, a special dinner out, wedding, birthday party, the Super Bowl, or some other event that’s out of the ordinary pattern, and where you may not have control over the food. This requires special measures. You can eat something healthy before you leave and abstain while there, you can bring your own food, or work with your host and friends to find suitable options for yourself. But it does require self-discipline, self-advocacy, and a willingness to ask for what you need. You do not have to be a “diet victim” in these situations! As above, we coach you through being your own best advocate in these situations.

Successful weight loss requires self-advocacy, and a willingness to ask for what you need. Share on X

6 Travel

travel vacationsThis is a challenge for everyone. We spend an entire week discussing travel challenges. We teach what foods to pack and how to travel with them, foods to bring on a plane or in the car, and strategies for choosing meals on the road, dealing with hotel breakfast buffets, restaurants, and the many temptations out in “the real world”. If you are dieting on your own, apps such as MyFitnessPal can be helpful in making good choices and tracking your calorie consumption. We also recommend checking out restaurant menus before you ever leave home and selecting safe options ahead of time so you won’t be tempted to stray when you are hungriest. Any decisions you can make in advance — days in advance if possible — will help you preserve willpower.

7 Emergencies

emergenciesBy definition, emergencies are unplanned. A sudden trip to the emergency room, an ill family member, a weather event that keeps you away from home, or keeps you snowbound inside your home can throw you off your game and send you back to old stress-eating habits. It’s important to have a variety of foods and meals prepared in advance. You can have emergency meals in your freezer, and you can keep shelf-stable and portable foods for emergency trips, along with portable healthy items like apples, fresh vegetables, and low-sugar protein bars. We cover strategies for these situations and provide lists of suitable frozen and packaged foods to make emergencies — or just a late night at work — easier to handle.


With awareness and forethought, you can remove many obstacles to healthy eating. This outline of the seven most-common eating spheres with their related challenges and opportunities provides a framework to help you think through your own needs and to consider some new approaches to familiar challenges. You can build healthy habits if you think creatively and plan ahead. Self-advocacy is also important. We have brain scans that show iDieters actually change their food preferences to prefer healthy foods over junk food, and it’s something you can accomplish too — with consistency and planning. If you’d like comprehensive help in the context of an integrated science-based program, we invite you to consider an iDiet class or online program. You’ll get hundreds of satisfying recipes created by Dr. Roberts, simple but delicious no-cook and easy-cook EasyPlan menus to streamline your meal planning, customized help, group and online support, strategies for every common situation, and the confidence that comes from knowing you’re retraining your brain to have control over your food choices and your life.

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