Diet Detective: How to Use Text Messages and Phone Reminders to Keep Healthy

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 course. Almost 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 text (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 and the iPhone you can even set alerts by just talking to your phone. And they both also have location-based reminder apps.

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.

Another service, Oh Don't Forget, costs $.03 per text and is also relatively simple to use.

More: 11 Creative Ways to Walk More

Now, if you really want to get fancy, there are some telephone reminder services too. I did a brief test with 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, 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 health 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.

More: 8 Dining Out Tips

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