You know you need to do it. You know it’s going to be hard to change your ways. But if you aren’t eating well and nourishing your body, there’s no chance you’re going to feel your best. There’s a lot at stake: your heart health, the risk of obesity, your level of energy and mood, even your mental well-being could be affected. If none of that is motivation enough to keep you on a healthy nutritional journey, perhaps these tips from a Registered Dietitian will help. Keep in mind, we’re all human and all have the same temptations – regardless of our day jobs.
Relieve the pressure: Pressure to eat a certain way can come from friends, family and, very often, yourself! It could be a cultural thing for your family, or it could be a judgment issue that comes from comparing yourself to others. Social media may amplify the pressure to look a certain way or eat certain foods, because they’re trendy or propose to provide some miracle benefits to your waistline. Letting go of these stigmas is sure to help you succeed in eating healthy.
Change your perspective: Your food choices should never be all or nothing. If you restrict what goes on your plate five days a week and allow wiggle room on the weekends, you’re setting yourself up for binging. Limitations make you obsess over food. So instead of consuming good-for-you food, the temptation foods consume you. Creating a balanced lifestyle from beginning to end can drastically change how you think about eating.
Take baby steps: You can’t go from one extreme to the other (see tip above) without feeling a drastic hit to your daily habits. Too much change can be overwhelming, especially at first. And when you become overwhelmed, pressure starts to creep back up and you’re susceptible to giving up. A better idea is to take it one baby step at a time. The first week of your journey, vow to omit sodas and replace them with sparkling water or a bubbly, unsweetened tea. If all goes well, add another small goal the next week, like swapping potato chips for baked sweet potatoes. Continue to compound the changes until you’ve completely renovated your lifestyle.
Accept failures and move on: No one’s perfect. You may mess up and make bad eating choices now and then. Don’t let these moments of weakness ruin your day or derail your path to wellness. Accept the choice you made and tell yourself to get back on track for your next meal. The day is not a total failure, because you opted for fried chicken instead of grilled. Tomorrow is a new day; you’ll get a perfectly clean slate to start again.
Think it through: There is a mind-body connection that you need to tap into. Before you consume anything, spend a couple minutes thinking through your decision. Are you really hungry? Maybe you’re bored, thirsty or anxious. Is that cookie going to help you finish that work project, or do you want it just because it’s sitting in front of you? Emotions play a huge role in eating habits, so don’t ignore them! Confront the emotions and give a lot of thought to what your body really needs.
Above all, be kind to yourself!