Many of us have started dieting but by the second or third week you just couldn’t make it stick. It’s true changing around your lifestyle and starting new healthy habits may not be easy at first. I’ve compiled 10 effective tips to help you turn healthy eating into a habit. Now you can really make it a lifestyle change!
Plan and Prepare
Plan what you are going to eat in the next coming week and go to the supermarket and buy what’s on the list only. Similarly, prepare you meals for the next day in advance. The lack of time is usually a main reason that many of us rely on “grab and go “packaged junk food. Cook in advance what you are going to be eating over two days and pack them ready for work the next day. Now all you need to do is warm up your meals at lunchtime!
If you don’t have too much time preparing due to busy days, family…then keep it simple. Add some vegetables to your diet or keep leftovers. Wake up earlier to prepare before breakfast, or prepare while cooking dinner by leaving some food aside for you.
Take Food with You
During a busy day you commonly rely on junk food from the vending machine or fast food delivery for a quick meal because you didn’t eat for 4 hours. Keep healthy snacks with you in your bag or desk drawer such as raw nuts, healthy granola bars, fruits, or even a turkey sandwich.
Give yourself a cheat meal every now and then. You aren’t perfect so it’s okay if you slip up once a week for a small piece of cake. Or schedule a meal on the weekend to eat some junk food, as long as you get back to your healthy habits the meal after.
Don’t expect to change everything all at once! Take small steps daily, this way you will stay motivated and you can make it a long-term change. Change one eating habit a day or a week and you’ll notice the healthy changes pile up into big steps. Focus on smaller goals that you can reach in short time periods, which will keep you motivated to reach your long-term goal. Once you reach your first goal, keep making new ones and you’ll get there!
Notice your Triggers
Be aware of your trigger that gets you off track. Are you an emotional eater? Stress? Do you usually meet friends around mealtime and binge eat? Try to find other ways to channel them, replace the unhealthy habits with new ones. For example you might be used to sitting and watching TV at night and that’s when you snack, replace watching TV at that time with a healthier more active habit. Meet friends for an afternoon walk rather than dessert, or go to they gym when you are stressed or feeling down (exercise is a mood changer). Being aware of the trigger is halfway into solving the problem, at least you will ‘know’ what is causing you to eat extra that you can focus on.
Restructure you environment so it doesn’t tempt you to eat excess or junk food. Remove junk food from your kitchen closet; keep your fridge stocked with healthy options, such as cut up vegetables and fruits. Don’t keep the bowl of chocolate or nuts on the table. With time you’ll get used to not having the junk around.
When you are consistent with a habit it becomes easier to stick. Eating your meals at the same time every day or going to the gym at the same time of day will lead to you “scheduling” it into your routine.
Be in the “Know”
Know the benefits of making the change, why do you want to make healthy eating a habit? Good health, better performance, better physique? Knowing the reasons will drive your willpower. Similarly, know what you are eating to help you make the right choices. What is whole wheat bread and why should I be replacing it?
Write it Down
Write down what you are eating daily by keeping a food diary. Writing will keep you focused and visualize what you’re eating and your goals. When you go back and read it you may notice where you slipped up and this will help you correct your mistake. Record how much your weight or measurements are changing, helping you visualize your end result. Commit to regular checkups to keep you on track with your dietitian. Seeing progress will boost your motivation.
Get a Buddy
It is always a great motivation booster to start a new habit with someone (even if they have a different habit). Or find your source of motivation that will keep you on track when you feel like quitting.