Staying motivated can be the hardest part of healthy eating. Often once some weight has come off and the results are ‘real’ my clients are tempted to revert to old habits, gorge on favourite foods that they’ve missed and end up back at square one. The psychologically supportive side of being a nutritional therapist - supporting my client to stick with it - is one of the most important parts of my job.
So here are a few ways to stay on track and keep these healthy habits going:
1. Stay accountable to yourself each day. If healthy habits are starting to slip, re-start the food diary where you write down every morsel you have eaten – it really tells the truth!
2. Motivate yourself every day. Try putting inspirational quotes around the home like this Manifesto for a Simple Life: ‘Eat Less, Move More, Buy Less, Make More, Stress Less, Laugh More, Feel Blessed, Love More.’ Or my personal favourite, ‘We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are,’ by Adele Davis. We owe it to ourselves to consume food with grace and consciousness, so find words that help to remind you about why it’s important to you to be healthy.
3. “Me time.” Find or make a quiet spot every day and breathe. Connect with your health goals, connect with you, picture yourself in that bikini, load up how it will feel. Love yourself, support yourself; you deserve to have a body that is healthy. Our thoughts are powerful, so check in with what messages you are sending your body each day.
4. Eat sitting down. Eat slowly, enjoy every morsel and CHEW! Even if you don’t feel like it. It’s much easier not to binge and to avoid bad foods if you give yourself the time to enjoy your food. Schedule your meals into your day – it is after all our fuel and the simple but essential act of chewing will aid better digestion and could reduce unwanted bloating.
5. Portion control! Your stomach is the size of your relaxed fist, that’s the only amount of food you need on your plate and you only need it three times a day.
6. Being comfortable with hunger. Remember that hunger isn’t an emergency (if you don’t have a serious medical condition). Hunger is mildly uncomfortable but totally tolerable. It is our minds that are uncomfortable. This is when breathing and affirmations help. Eating three healthy meals per day isn’t about starvation and your body can quickly re-adjust if you let it.
7. Forget all the fads! If you reach a deadlock and don’t seem to be shifting the weight, remember that slowly and surely is the best way. Crash diets don’t work, and will always lead to more weight issues later. Look at what you are doing and see what needs to change. I love Einstein’s’ definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you are exercising but not looking at your diet, then this is where you need to re-focus. And similarly, if you are eating healthily but not exercising, it’s time to embrace movement.
8. Treat meal. Allow yourself a treat – eating out, your favourite pudding - once a week and recognise it for what it is – a treat, a special occasion, not a daily part of your life.
9. Change your mindset about food and eating. Recognise that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want OR you can be more comfortable in your body and more importantly, healthier. You can’t have it both ways.
10. Prepare your kitchen for success. Healthy eating is always the first thing to fall to the bottom of the list if we haven’t planned it. So plan your meals in advance, cook a few batches to freeze for busy weeks, shop online to save time. And remove the temptations from your cupboards!