Transformation is by no means quick or easy. (Even though we wish it was, and are often tempted by quick fixes!) It’s all about making simple changes that collectively lead to a more profound change. Diet of course plays a large part in your overall health goals (and we mean everything you’re eating, not a majorly restrictive plan). The trick to being successful when it comes to changing your eating habits is to make adjustments that are realistic and sustainable for your lifestyle. While proper nutrition and exercise are obviously the building blocks, let’s take a more holistic approach with these easy tips to transform your diet.
Assess Your Readiness
By assessing your readiness to make a change to your diet you are setting yourself up for the best success. To do this, identify where you are in the stages of change model. This may seem a little scientific and confusing, but it helps you recognize if you are truly ready, or what obstacles may be in the way, before you can get going. Are you Precontemplative? (Thinking about making a change, but not ready to take action.) Are you Preparing? (Ready to make the change in the immediate future and taking the necessary measures to get there.) Or are you in Action? (Currently changing behavior and moving forward.) Take some time to understand if you’re in a place to make change; if you’re not, any attempts to transform your diet will be much harder to begin and sustain.
Change Your Outlook
It’s time to stop categorizing your food as either “good” or “bad.” There’s absolutely no need to feel guilty for eating too many “bad” foods or not enough “good” foods. Food is food—demonizing or cutting out entire food groups will only hurt you, not help you. You can find a place for all types of food in your diet, even the less nutritional ones. Judge the success of your diet by reflecting on the entire week, rather than a single day or meal. You’re not very likely to maintain a diet transformation if you uproot the way you eat entirely and don’t allow yourself some wiggle room. We are all human.
A tried and true method for healthy eating long-term is having a plan and sticking to it. It may require a little extra forethought and elbow grease on the weekend to prepare nutritious foods for the week, but in the long-run it will likely save you time, money, and stress. Focus on incorporating fresh fruits and veggies, lean sources of protein, whole grains, and healthy fats into your meal plan. For more tips on meal planning check out our 14-Day and 7-Day Meal Plans.
What does this have to do with food?! Well, it turns out that exercising regularly and eating nutritiously isn’t all it takes to maintain or lose weight. Getting some good quality shut-eye is actually very crucial to crushing your dietary goals. Rest facilitates recovery, and without recovery you can’t perform at your best—mind or body. For your own good, prioritize good quality sleep.
No one likes being stressed. And why would we? When we’re stressed we release elevated levels of the hormone cortisol. This hormone wreaks havoc on the body by increasing blood sugar, increasing blood pressure, and decreasing the body’s immune response. Continuously elevated levels of this hormone over long periods may precipitate weight gain because of increased insulin and stimulated appetite. Not to mention we tend to emotional eat when we’re stressed, and let’s face it, we rarely emotional eat carrot sticks. Do yourself some serious stress-less favors by enrolling in a yoga class, making time to get outside, or having fresh fruits and vegetables on hand. Whatever helps your mood and ability to deal with life’s pressures.
Get Your Five-A-Day
Our on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t always facilitate getting in your five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But do your best to make it happen! Not only are fruits and vegetables nutritionally valuable, but they’re low calorically and full of fiber to leave you feeling satiated longer. Having fresh, cut up fruits and vegetables on hand can help you make these healthier choices when in a pinch.
Always Ask for a Doggie-Bag
Restaurants are notorious for offering large portions of high caloric foods. When choosing to eat out, also choose to limit excessive calorie intake by asking the server to bring you a to-go container with your meal. By immediately packaging up a part of your meal you are practicing portion control by removing the temptation to eat it all in one go.
Sources: Cortisol and Weight – Project Aware | The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) – Boston University School of Public Health | The Surprising Reason You Can’t Lose Weight – The Huffington Post