Have you ever felt super motivated to start a new healthy habit, only for your resolve to fade as you return to your usual ways a few days or weeks later? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. We may start off motivated to make a big change, but find it’s not easy to suddenly alter patterns we’ve been practicing our whole lives. Here at Brook, we understand that mindset and motivation are just as important as nutrition when it comes to wellness. With that in mind, let’s focus on some tips to help you turn your health goals into long-term habits.
Instead of trying to redo your entire diet at once, stick with one change at a time. For example, instead of saying you are going to cut out all junk food this week and eat healthy meals every day, focus instead on making one healthy change to your breakfast or afternoon snack. This method of goal setting, known as creating SMART goals, is more likely to be successful for most people. Want to learn more about SMART goals? Check out our comprehensive guide along with a printable worksheet.
Our brains are more receptive to the idea of adding something in, rather than having something taken away. Think about what you can add to your diet to make it healthier, instead of what you might need to reduce or remove. Can you add a low carb veggie to three meals this week? Increase fiber in your meals by buying whole-grain bread during your regular grocery run? Often, we can greatly improve our diets by bringing good things in, instead of just focusing on taking things away. If you need inspiration of things to add, the Brook Healthy Plate is a great place to start.
A good rule to follow: if you’ve tried something 5 times and still don’t like it, it is okay to put it in the “I don’t like” pile. However, before you give it up completely, consider a different approach to that same issue that may work better for you. For example, different cooking methods for a food you don’t like, or easy ways to boost veggie intake you may not have thought of before. Our Health Coaches are a great resource for this – they can offer personalized ideas for making meaningful dietary changes.
This can minimize temptations and help you stick to your new habits. For example, if the ½ gallon of ice cream in your freezer won’t stop calling to you at night, consider keeping only one or two single-serving ice cream containers at home. Or, make ice cream an occasional special treat that you go out for. Simply stated, if you stock your home with those foods that support your healthy intentions, then that’s what you’ll end up eating more of.
It will help you stay on track and avoid impulse buys and marketing gimmicks. If you come across something new and are wondering if it’s good for you, give it the quick “great great grandmother test.” Ask yourself, “is this something my great great grandmother would recognize as food?” If the answer is yes, chances are it’s a food that supports your healthy habits!
When creating new habits, be kind to yourself and recognize that changes take some time. If you “fall off the wagon,” understand that this is part of being human. Leave the guilt behind, learn from what happened, and focus on how you can make a better choice the next time. Not only is tomorrow a new day, but the next moment is a new one as well!
on December 2nd, 2020. Heather is a Certified Diabetes Educator, has been a Registered Dietitian for over 12 years, and is Brook's Health Director.