You want to create better habits for yourself but you don’t know where to get started and most importantly you do not know anymore what is bluff and what is healthy. Trends come and go, you see new buzzed diets out every single year and all the social media influencers giving it a try, makes you almost fall for it. No. Take a break and find yourself, your wishes, goals and ultimate focus you have with your eating.
WHAT IS ”HEALTHY”?
Healthy doesn’t mean low-calorie, low-fat, low-anything. Healthy takes a different shape for everyone simply because we have different necessities depending on what our body and its functions need to work properly and thrive, as well as we may be in different stages in our life (toddlerhood, teenage, adulthood, pre-pregnancy, postpartum, intense exercise, recovery, etc). Diets are used in Nutritional Medicine with the purpose of treating certain conditions, and truth is that many illnesses not diet-related can be treated and ameliorated via a specific change in eating habits.
Adhering to a ”healthy diet” for an individual in good health (those that this website and resources are directed to) simply means consuming high-quality foods.
- High quality foods: unrefined foods such as local (so no preservatives nor conservants are used for extending life for transportation between continents or countries) vegetables, fruits and good sources of protein such as grass-fed animals.
- Lower quality foods: refined, lab-made, chemically altered products such as snacking foods (that are often advertised as ”healthy”), sugary beverages (all alcoholic beverages included), white refined grains (pasta), refined white sugar used in most bakeries, deep fried foods in the wrong oils, products containing trans fats and high-glycaemic food options.
Finding a perfect diet for the general public is absolutely impossible as it greatly depends on personal needs, metabolism, genes and lifestyle. However, maintaining a healthy equilibrium in your relationship with food is extremely important for the long-run of your health.
A diet can aid you to lose weight temporarily (mainly loss of water if you have an inactive lifestyle, or busy enough to not care for exercise), but most importantly, you must get help, advice and support to make a change in the way you see food, in the way you understand and perceive the concept of ”health”.
CREATING HEALTHY HABITS
How can you stick to your plans, to start enjoying food as more than just that – to see it as nourishment, as fuel?
- Create a positive relationship with food. Don’t see food as simply macro and micronutrients, see it as the wood for your fire. That will mean letting go of counting calories, proteins, fats and rather focusing on the way you understand food and allow yourself ”food freedom”.
Especially if you’ve suffered from an eating disorder in the past, counting calories and restrictive eating is absolutely not recommended due to the high probability of you beginning to struggle again, if not physically, then mentally. Eating peacefully and emotionally present, mindfully has been found to be a positive way of treating individuals with past episodes of anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, emotional eating (1, 2, 3, 4).
- Understanding your body. Listen to the needs you have when you start feeling hungry and try to stop associating negative cues with hunger – sit back, eat slowly and allow your body to respond back on whether you are satiated or not. Before and after a meal always ask yourself how do you feel in order to identify emotions, stress or anxiety – it might help you realize whether there is a relation between your food choices and your emotions, step by step take control of your body and emotions.
- Eat high-quality foods primarily, allow a small space for treats. High-quality foods will allow you to recover, nourish and replenish your energy levels. You can add treats to your eating habit by making them at home and looking for substitutes that work with you (such as sugar replacement, lower sodium, etc).
- Get your partner involved as well. If you don’t live alone, it will be really hard sticking to something all by yourself. Try to make others understand your concerns and why you’re making a habit change, involve them in a way or another so they feel like they’re aiding you.
- Eliminate toxic friendships from your circle. That means unhealthy people whose will is to pull others down while they fail at their own wellbeing. It’s extremely important to have a circle of supportive friends, people with the same goal and those that will understand you and not only that but join you. Creating a new healthy habit for yourself will mean letting go of old habits and old friendships that no longer work for you. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye.
- Clean your pantry and replace it. Throw away (if old) or preferably donate the items you no longer plan to consumer and replace them with the foods you’ve been planning for.
- Use your journal to document the changes in your life. If this means too much fuss for you then keep track of your changes using your smartphone. There are applications that aid with habit change and work as reminders, whether that’s a lifestyle change or a behavioral change.
- If you fail, start again. Even if it takes 1000 times to get it right, never give up on your new goal, just start it again and try your best to stick to it. This is why it’s so incredibly important to set real goals and changes in your mind rather than dreams and impossible outcomes.
- Think positively. We might’ve repeated this one but it’s so important to have a positive mindset that will always push you back into your new routine. If your goal is weight loss, think of it as a long-term health benefit and remind yourself that you must be kind to yourself and you need your time to not only reach your goal weight but also to reach peak health, which is the reason why we engage in weight loss journeys anyway (or so it should).
- Share it. Sharing something will make you stick to the plan as you’ll build expectatives in the eyes of others. While no one else than you knows your journey better, they can still follow it. Be careful with what you post in social media and the messages you share with the public (teenagers and other sensitive groups might have access to it). But if you want to have an extra push for your habit change, from an unhealthy habit to a healthy one, applauses and praisal is always welcome and it will make you go on.