As a clinical nutritionist, I hear this comment a lot: I know what I have to do. I know I need to eat healthy foods. Why don’t I do it? My son knows what to eat, yet he doesn’t! My friend knows what she has to eat, but she keeps eating foods she should avoid! All I need is a meal plan to follow! A few weeks later, the meal plan is out of the window, and the individual is back to the old days of eating undesirable foods.
One of the main problems is that we are not consciously aware of what foods can do to us. Non-desirable foods are easy to swallow. It takes time to change eating habits. We are also rushing all the time and have less and less time to savor the food mindfully.
To change what we eat, we need to create a new habit. How can we create a new pattern if we don’t take the first step? Engaging in a new eating behavior every day helps establish a new habit. It doesn’t need to be a radical change. It can be something simple like eating fruit every day. Make the fruit visible at home. So that you can first remember it’s there. Are you too busy? Carry your banana with you so that when you take a break to eat, you don’t go to a store and buy something you are trying to avoid.
Let’s say you intend to drink more water during the day. Have a glass of water at your desk while you work. Every time you look at it, you will remember to drink it.
The small changes that are repetitive help us acquire a new habit. Being too ambitious at the beginning of a nutritional shift can lead to failure. Lowering the expectations and taking baby steps can be crucial to improvements. Make progress. Perfection is usually not attainable. Don’t despair if you cannot follow your nutritional goals every single day. The critical thing to remember is that you are trying and moving forward.
I put together a list with a few steps that can be great to take if you want to include more of the desired foods into your diet:
Think about the reasons why you feel it is essential to make these changes
Don’t bring what you don’t want to eat into your house
Throw away the non-desired foods
Keep the preferred foods close by
Make a list of the selected foods and your goals for the next 1-3 months
Cook in advance to have the preferred foods available when you are hungry
Learn new recipes
Buy a new desired food to try something new you haven’t had before
Don’t rush your meals
Listen to your body when you are hungry and when you are full
Ask yourself: am I eating this because I am hungry or stressed/nervous/anxious, or have any other reason
Find time to be quiet and reflect upon your goals for healthy eating.