Losing weight essentially consists of two major cornerstones—eating less and better, and increasing your level of physical activity. But, changing our eating habits can be a lot harder than we anticipate and this is why so many struggle to not only lose weight, but keep it off for good. Bad habits are deeply ingrained and our desire to change is sometimes not enough to put us on the right path. We need to adopt strategies that will help us make better choices. Here are some tips to change your unhealthy eating habits that are standing in the way of your weight loss.
Increased awareness of our current thoughts, habits and behaviors is the first step in change. On the surface, we know there is a problem but we really are not fully aware of what is going on. Making a deliberate effort to track your current eating habits can foster this deeper awareness that will spur positive change. Most of the day we are operating on auto pilot without giving much thought to what we are doing and this tracking will take us off auto pilot. Keep a food journal for a week or two and track everything, no matter how small. The results will be very eye-opening and you will see what you need to work on, whether it is eating too many helpings or excessive snacking. Once you have become more mindful of what is going into your mouth, you will make better choices.
When we are fuzzy with the types of changes we want to make, we will get equally fuzzy results. Saying you want to eat better or lose weight is great, but how will you go about accomplishing this? What specific actions are you going to take? If you want to work out more, how you will accomplish this? Will you get up earlier and hit the gym before work, swap a half hour of TV for an after-dinner walk? If you want to start eating more fruits and vegetables, how are you going to work them into your current diet? Will you start making fruit your daily snack you bring to work? Will you start cooking at home more instead of getting take out or going out to eat? If you want t cook at home, will you plan your meals for the week and make one big trip to the store? For everything change you want to make with your eating habits, get specific on all the different ways you can make it a reality.
While in theory, you could completely change your diet overnight and never look back, most of us do not have the mental fortitude to make such a gigantic leap; if we did, we would probably would not be in our current state. Commit to making smaller changes and ease yourself into this new lifestyle. If you love sandwiches, switch from fatty mayonnaise to mustard; if you cook a lot, use a cooking spray instead of oil to reduce fat intake. If you like dessert after your evening meal, swap out the ice cream and cake for some fruit, at least a few nights a week to start. Experiment with flavorful herbs and spices in lieu of fatty sauces. When filling up your plate, start shifting the balance towards more non-starchy vegetables and less meat, potatoes or pasta. Eat on smaller plates. Once you start eating better, an amazing thing begins to happen—you will actually want to eat healthier foods and it will not feel like such a struggle. The cravings for the junk will subside and while you may still enjoy them as an occasional treat, you will not want to eat them all the time.
Setting goals is important in succeeding at any endeavor. Goals give you clarity and something concrete to work towards, and when you have this, you make more of an effort to get where you want to be because you have a clear target. Setting mini-goals is a great way to stay motivated day to day. Maybe one week, you will aim to add one more serving of vegetables to your daily meals; another week, you can tackle cutting back on soda and drinking more water. Tackling small goals related to changing your eating habits will add up to big changes and you will reach the bigger goal of permanent weight loss.
When we get clear on why we want to make the changes we want to make, it is much easier to let go of self-destructive, self-sabotaging behaviors. And when I say clear, I mean getting down to the deepest, core reasons you want to change. I often think of them as the reasons behind the reasons. List out all the reasons you want to eat healthier and lose weight and then list out why you want all of those things and keep peeling back the layers. Doing this will help you discover the things you truly want in life and the things you truly value—once you this type of stuff out, you will have a stronger determination to live your life in a way that reflects these desires and values.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who is a frequent contributor to Make the List; If you are looking for assistance in your quest to lose weight, an online weight loss programs or inexpensive food delivery diet plan may be something to consider to help keep you on track with your healthful eating goals. Kelli specializes in health and wellness content and particularly enjoys writing about how to lose weight and how to eat better. Originally from New Jersey, she is currently using her writing income to fund an extended journey through Southeast Asia.