There’s no doubt, changing eating habits can be difficult, and it takes some work. Whether you’re trying to prevent disease, lose weight, improve energy levels, or lower blood sugar, start by setting yourself up for success with these quick tips;
- Create a healthy eating environment: Tap into your inner Marie Kondo with your food! Organize your kitchen so healthier options are visible and available. Throw away or store sweets and desserts out of plain eyesight to avoid visual cueing. Keep healthy non-perishables and frozen foods such as frozen vegetables, canned beans, whole grains, and frozen turkey or veggie burgers to use in a pinch.
- Plan out your meals: Changing eating habits requires a little planning. Pick out new recipes, try healthy swaps, and consider making a few staples when you have extra time to keep preferred food choices available. Even just taking 30 minutes once a week to plan your lunch or dinners, slice veggies or cook proteins can make eating better more realistic during your busy week!
- Honor your hunger: Before meals or snacks, ask yourself, am I hungry? Are you eating out of habit, boredom, dehydration, stress, or emotions perhaps? Honoring your hunger and listening to what your body needs is a helpful step towards maintaining a healthy weight. Don’t skip meals or snacks if you are truly hungry. Ignoring your body’s cues may make it difficult to be consistent, causing swings in eating habits and weight.
- Find a friend: Don’t do it alone! People seeking change are more successful at reaching and maintaining goals when they feel supported by friends, family, coworkers, and peers. Let people know what you are working towards, find a friend to join you at the gym, consider a weight loss group, or tackle these changes with your family. Having support makes it easier to make the right choices, and helps you stay on track when things are not going as smoothly as day one.
- Do some movement: Studies show that people who maintain a stable weight exercise consistently. This means finding moderation in your exercise, so you can keep it up, and setting goals to work towards. If walking 3 times a week for 20 minutes is where you can be consistent, start here. If you’re already doing exercise class 5 times a week for 60 minutes, start here. Wherever you begin, choose something that is realistic for YOU and start slow. Even just adding a little more movement to your day is a place to start.
- Consistency is key: Being consistent with food and exercise habits is the key to long term success. Many people can change habits for a short period of time but maintaining this change can be difficult if you’re trying to tackle too much. A sign that you may be changing things too quickly may be feeling lightheaded, dizzy, fatigued, losing or gaining weight too rapidly (5+ pounds per week), feeling burned out, skipping meals, overeating foods in a short period of time, among others. Nobody is perfect, and what you eat will vary. All foods can fit in moderation and variety is important to get the most nutrition and keeps boredom from setting in