In my practice, I find that when people take on transforming their eating habits, they often try a diet, get frustrated, and then bounce back to their original routines. First, this is totally normal, but it can also be really frustrating and honestly won’t do much for your health. Instead of trying trendy diets, the goal can be to develop healthy eating habits that make you feel good and that you can easily incorporate into your lifestyle for a long time.
Here are a few ways to stay on track with healthier eating.
Focus on the positive – Oftentimes when people try to change their eating habits, they focus on what they need to give up. Focusing on the negative can just make you feel bad about yourself. Try to think about all of the beautiful robust foods you ARE able to eat. Think about how good your new eating habits make you feel and celebrate yourself for taking the initiative to transform your health. You don’t have to deny yourself any foods (unless you have an allergy or medical condition). Instead, the goal can be to make your diet mostly full of healthy, vibrant foods with the occasional indulgence. Once you begin eating this way, you’ll likely start reaching for sugary or processed foods less and less anyway.
Start small – Instead of trying to do a complete overhaul of your eating habits in one go, start by making small, manageable changes. Once a new habit has become part of your daily routine without having to think about it, you can take on more new practices. Taking on too big a goal from the get-go is setting yourself up for frustration. One idea for how to do this would be to start with one small food goal such as “eat vegetables with every meal” or “drink an ounce of water for each pound of my body weight every day.” I also love resets. You can start with a short reset where you focus on vegetables, healthy proteins, and whole grains for one to three days without pressure or judgment and just notice how this way of eating makes you feel.
Find foods that you enjoy – If you hate kale, don’t eat kale! There are so many wonderful, delicious, vibrant, healthy fruits and vegetables that can make you feel great. A sustainable health plan is one that excites you to take on, finding healthy foods that you love and that bring you joy. Try lots of new foods and stick with what makes you happy.
Define your why – I encourage you to create a food goal that goes beyond “weight loss” or “looking good.” As with all goals, you will be much more likely to achieve them if you have a reason behind it that is truly meaningful to you. A few examples of goals that can inspire you to make lasting change include becoming healthy to spend more quality time with your family, eating clean so that you have a clear mind to achieve success in your business, or building the energy and strength to take on an athletic goal.
Practice mindfulness – Mindful eating helps you tune into a deeper connection with food and can help you form healthier long-term habits. The more you really think about and appreciate how food relates to your body, the more you will reach for invigorating options. To eat mindfully, sit down to your meals without any phones, work, or screens. As you eat, take time to really notice each flavor and find joy in the eating experience. Lastly, you can give gratitude for how the meal is turning into energy in your body, allowing you to do all of the things you love.
Don’t give up – I see a lot of people make slips in a prescribed diet, feel as though they failed, and then give up. In my practice, I suggest that people do not place too much weight on these slips. What happened happened, and it won’t really do you any good to beat yourself up about eating a “naughty food” or having an indulgent meal. Instead, focus on the present—what changes can you make to your next meal? Simply get back up and on track with your healthy eating habits.
Healthy eating habits begin with a healthy mindset. Before changing the way you eat, try changing the way you think and relate to food. Eating is a life-giving experience, and it can be much easier to adopt healthy eating habits if you think about your food with joy and appreciation.