Creating Habits; Not Diets
Easier Said Than Done: The “How To” Of It All
Most Americans are already aware of how to eat right. They know eating six cream-filled donuts is bad for them and that an apple is good for them. It's the doing of it, the changing of habits, that's proving to be the hard part. We've included some tried and true tips to help you get on the road to healthy eating.
Set Gentle, Realistic Goals and Meet Them.
Vowing to cut out desserts is good, right? Wrong. The stated goal “I'll never eat dessert again,” is totally unrealistic and unfair. It's almost impossible, and, from a certain standpoint, not even a desirable goal. It's unlikely you'll ever meet such a goal, and when you do break your promise, watch out. That's when the flood gates open: you've broken your promise, failed in your goal, so what's to stop you from eating the whole pie, the whole bucket of fried chicken, with fries on the side?
Compare some of the following realistic and unrealistic goals:
|Cruel and Unrealistic||Gentle and Realistic|
|I'll never eat dessert again.||I'll cut down from five desserts a week to two.|
|I'll never eat snacks at the office again.||I'll always keep a supply of my favorite yogurt in the office fridge so I won't have to go to the snack machine when I'm hungry.|
|I'll lose 10 pounds this month on a crash diet.||This month, I'll replace at least three bad eating habits with three new better ones.|
|I'll never go out for pizza at lunchtime with my office-mates again.||I'll bring a healthy lunch to work at least three times a week. When we go out to eat, I'll try to order something sensible from the menu.|
Get into the habit of setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals for yourself which are gentle, realistic and attainable.
This may be the opposite sort of advice you expected to hear from a guide on healthy eating. But we mean it. Don't diet. Diets don't work.
Or rather, they do, but not in the long run. If you eat nothing but grapefruit and raw cabbage for a month, yes, you will lose weight. But research shows that not only does the weight that you lost come back, it comes back with a vengeance: there's more of it and it's made up its mind to stay.
You see, when you go on a crash diet, your Darwinian survivalist body interprets this as a signal that food resources are scarce. Better slow down the old metabolism, the body says. Then when the diet ends, the body realizes that food is back, but suspects that it may become scarce again. Better store the new stuff as fat just in case we hit that drought again, it says. You can lose weight on a diet, but more likely than not, the weight will come back bigger and badder than before. Ironic, huh?
Always have in mind the concept of lifestyle change, not diet. Slowly and gently implement healthy changes which can be made permanently.
Try new things. Variety is one of the most important elements of a healthy diet. Look behind most unhealthy diets and you'll probably find a stubborn person who doesn't like to try new things. “It's the $1.99 menu at Wendy's or nothing.” Don't be this person. Just because you hated green beans the way your Aunt Roz cooked them doesn't mean you should never try them again. Did you ever try them stir-fried with a little ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil? So you hate tofu. Did you know that you can crumble a piece into the blender with a fruit smoothie and you'd never know it's there? Try new things in new ways until you find healthy foods you love.