Have you ever wanted to change your eating habits but weren’t really sure where to start?
You’re not alone! Many people struggle with making sustainable lifestyle changes, but don’t worry! Here you will find 5 ways to help you transition into healthy eating habits.
1. Make small changes for lifelong success
Little changes in diet and exercise are key for sustainable success. Have you ever gone on a fad diet and restricted so many foods that you eventually became discouraged and fell back into old habits? That is the typical cycle of why fad diets do not work for long term success. Choose one thing to focus on every day. For example, if your goal is to eat more vegetables, start with the vegetables you like and aim to eat one serving at lunch and dinner. Eventually, you will be more adventurous to try other varieties and cooking methods to enjoy vegetables at every single meal.
2. Make SMART Goals
Specific + Measurable + Attainable + Relevant + Timely
Having a specific, detail-oriented goal in mind helps you stay on track with your sustainable lifestyle change. Pick a goal, write it down, and keep it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Reading over that goal will help you stick with it, and when you successfully meet your goal, celebrate it. Use a journal to write about your successes and struggles for the day. This is key to help you realize what you need to focus on.
Example of a SMART goal: I will eat ½ cup serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week.
NOT a SMART goal: I will eat more vegetables this week.
3. Schedule time for your health
Another issue many have with developing healthy eating habits is not making health a priority. It’s true—eating nutritious foods and getting daily activity takes time and planning. However, it does not have to be hard to complete. Invest in a calendar and plan your meals. Choose simple meal ideas/recipes based on your skill level. Make a grocery list to make sure you have all the ingredients for your meals and snacks. Schedule one-two hours per week to prep all of your veggies, fruits and lean meats so they are easily accessible for cooking. Make time in your day for 30-45 minutes of movement you enjoy. While it takes careful thought and planning, scheduling time to prioritize your health is doable—and your body will thank you in the long run!
4. Focus on what you can add versus what you take away
Many times, people think you have to take away foods when you transition into healthy eating habits, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you focus on all of the things you can add to your diet (such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats), then it adds a positive element to the change. Also, you don’t have to “avoid” your favorite foods altogether. If you love pizza, still eat it! Focus on adding a mixed greens side salad to go along with the pizza. In addition to getting more fiber + vitamins + minerals in your meal, you will also likely eat less pizza because the fiber from the salad will keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.
5. Find an accountability partner
It’s hard to do all of this alone. It’s hard if you don’t have support at home to make these changes. Find someone who has a common goal with you. Talk about your struggles and your successes. Plan meals together. Grocery shop together. Go for an evening walk together. Having a person keeping you accountable can motivate and inspire you even more to keep up the good work. Eventually, these changes will be second nature to you. Having a strong support group makes it that much easier to make sustainable, lifestyle changes.
Challenge for this week? Focus on one of these tips to help you transition into healthy eating habits. It may be difficult in the beginning, but perseverance and positive thinking will help you make a sustainable lifestyle change.