10 Ways to Eat Healthier More Often (without Missing out on all the Fun Stuff)
Are you in ‘I really want to get healhty but i don’t know if I have what it takes’ mode?
Put your hand up if this is you. You go to bed thinking you should try + eat healthily the next day - in truth it’s because you ate half a packet of peanut M+Ms on the couch after dinner + you’re not feeling great about it - but you’re pretty motivated nonetheless.
When you wake up, you’re still pretty motivated (but not quite as much as you were last night for some reason) + you have a healthy breakfast. You get to lunch time + you’re not quite as prepared as you wanted to be, you buy a takeaway salad + it isn’t anywhere near as satisfying as you needed it to be + you’re starting to question how committed you really are.
Three o’clock rocks around + the chocolates in the staff room have been calling your name for the last thirty damn minutes so you go + sneak one, forgetting that afternoon tea was organised for a work colleague. Before you know it, you’re eating birthday cake + having your third coffee, which ultimately leads you to drink several wines when you get home from work because, well, you have already blown it for today so you may as well enjoy yourself now.
Lo + behold, you’re saying the exact same thing to yourself before you go to bed that night as you did the night before (except there is this niggly little question in your head about whether you will be able to stick to it tomorrow…). And it all begins again the next day. It’s like it’s groundhog day.
If you related to even one small part of the above scenario, you’re one of many. Whether your motivation to eat healthily is generally super high (but you just can’t stay consistent across your week or month) or it’s super low (but you know you need to get some change happening + hey, knocking off a few kilos would be nice), the issue is the same. How do you stop falling into the same patterns + eat healthier more often?
It’s actually not your fault.
When you think about it, it makes total sense that you would find it difficult to eat healthily in today’s world. You are confronted with an abundance of tasty, calorie laden, easily accessible foods more now than ever before in the history of the world + to top it off, you are hard wired to want this type of food. Your willpower is being put to the test way too often (when it may not be designed to work that way) + when you combine this with the fact that you live in a world where stress levels are high + energy levels are ever so dwindling, it’s no wonder you find it hard. Given these two things are a feature of our contemporary world, it’s no wonder that the key barriers to eating healthier more often are being unable to resist temptation + lacking motivation!
So what can you do to work around these two barriers to achieve the healthy body that you want (without going crazy?)
Make healthy eating easy to stick to.
Only make healthy habit changes that you could see yourself doing consistently for longer than a week.
I’m a massive believer in only making changes that you can incorporate into your life the way it is right now. And that means making changes that you can viably commit to every day or at least routinely several times a week. If you can’t commit to something right now, then you shouldn’t be doing it at the moment. It can come later.
Increase your motivation levels by making sure these changes are small enough to be able to do every day but big enough to see at least some change.
Even though I recommend changes that are small enough to commit to every day, I do believe that it is important that you don’t make them so small that they appear to make no difference in your life. This is because, the change you make needs to increase your motivation to do more. One of the best ways to do that is to make a change that gives you tangible results quickly. They don’t have to necessarily be weight loss results (in fact, they probably won’t), but they do have to motivate you to keep going. Choosing high impact changes such as just eating three meals a day (no snacks) or having one meal a day as a high protein salad, or exercising three times a week are really great examples of goals you can set for yourself that will make you feel mentally + physically stronger which will be super motivating + most likely make you want to keep going!
Recognise + use your strengths while simultaneously managing + supporting your weaknesses.
In any period of change, you will have times when you feel warrior-like + times when you want to hide under a rock + wait it all out. Learning to maximise the times that you are strong + manage the times when you are down + out will give you better results long term. What does this look like? Start to observe yourself + your eating habits. When are you strong + motivated? Why? How can you put yourself in that situation more? And when do you give in? Why? And how can you support yourself or avoid these situations more to get through these times without giving up for weeks after? Check this article out if you want to know where to start.
Resist temptation by visualising the version of yourself that you want to be + slowly developing a routine that aligns with this.
So how do you remind yourself how much you really want to be lean + healthy (+ act accordingly) when all you want to do is sit on the couch + eat junk food?
Associate Professor + psychologist Hal Hershfield explains it like you have several 'selves'. There's the Eating a Block of Chocolate in the Evening because you've had a Hard Day Self, but then there's also the Going to the Gym in the Morning Self that gets the Sh*ts with the Eating a Block of Chocolate Self who Overindulged the night before #Amiright?!
Studies have shown that if you can imagine your future self NOW, you're more likely to make healthier decisions. In other words, if the Block of Chocolate Self was able to truly imagine themselves as the Morning Gym Self then they would be more likely to have no chocolate or less chocolate.
How do you do this in practice? Start to routinely visualise the person you want to be in six months time. And I mean, really visualise it. Play it through with as much detail in your mind as you can. What would a healthier version of yourself look like? How would you wake up? How would you feel getting into the shower? Going into work? Playing with the kids? Going out to dinner? Hanging out with friends? You can write it down if it helps.
Now every morning you wake up, walk through or read through the same scenario. And when you're struggling to resist those afternoon teas at work, imagine it again. What is this future version of yourself doing in the scenario you're facing? What choices would you make? How would you act?
Automate as much as possible.
Choose one change that you want to do more of + automate it by attaching it to an already existing cue that you already do habitually in your day. In other words, choose a healthy habit that you want to start doing (like going for a walk, or drinking two litres of water a day, or pre-preparing your lunch) + do it straight after you’ve done something you do routinely every day.
So you could drink a glass of water after you eat, you go to the toilet + after you brush your teeth. Or you go for a 30 minute walk as soon as you get out of your work clothes in the afternoon. Or you prep your lunch straight after dinner, just before you do the dishes in the evening.
Allow for flexibility.
There are always going to be times in your life that eating healthier is going to be easier than others. In the times when it’s more difficult, develop a set of Bare Minimums for yourself. In other words, at times when you know you’re more likely to go back to habits that you would rather not, decide on a few things that are still positive that you know you can do + be happy with them. For example, you’re an accountant + you know that June + July are stupidly busy for you (+ that’s when you tend to go into eating takeaway three times a week mode). So over those two months, just stick to three healthy things you know you can do in your day + do them. Don’t worry about anything else. In point number six in this article I go into more detail on how to do this.
Make change based on your current patterns of eating.
How long do you think you’re going to eat keto or meal replacement shakes if you prefer to eat fruit + pasta? Even if you can muster up the diet change for enough weeks to make some difference, the chance that you’ll go back to your old habits are incredibly high.
If you’re trying to make healthy changes that don’t consider your likes + dislikes then you’re not going to do it for long. Instead, work on slowly making what you do like healthier! So if you love pasta, change it to wholegrain pasta, add a protein source + eat it with a side salad + boom, you’re eating a beautifully healthy well rounded meal.
Use motivators that are not weight loss.
If your motivation for eating healthily is that you’d like to drop a few kilos, that’s fantastic! The only problem is that if you’ve been trying to lose weight for a while + without success, it can be incredibly de-motivating (meaning you’re less likely to be consistent + more likely to give in to temptation). Reframing your success in ways that are not related to what happens on the scale can not only increase your motivation but can keep you on track for longer giving you better results long term.
Motivate yourself by making your changes specific + measurable.
Rather than saying ‘tomorrow I’m going to eat healthier’, make sure your change is really specific, that way you’re more likely to stick to it. You’re also more likely to be chuffed when you achieve it (when you’re proud of yourself, you’re often more motivated to keep going!). How do you make sure your change is specific + measurable? Give it more detail. So instead of ‘I’m going to eat healthily’ make it ‘I’m going to eat three cups of vegetables every day for three weeks.’
Take your time + enjoy the journey.
Being a healthier person is different for everyone but ultimately it comes down to eating + living in a way that helps you do everything it is that you want to do in life. You don’t have to do it all, all the time just start moving in the right direction a bit more than you are now ❤.
Want a weight loss program that moves you in the right direction?
HI! I’M ZOE.
I'm a clinical nutritionist committed to helping women who care about their heath end their battle with their weight so they can get on with doing the things that matter most.
Hey! I’m Zoe Morosini, a Brisbane based nutritionist on a mission to show every woman that want to lose weight that she doesn’t have to lose her mind trying.