This time I’m going to talk about better eating habits. Most people are not aware of the high importance of food in our life. Just some examples – eating healthy food directly affects our vigilance, concentration, power at work (therefore affects our salary), level of happiness, health (It will add a few healthier years to your life), brain function and much more. The first 5 are about improving our habits, the 5 after are about creating a better menu.
1. Start small. If you swear off chocolate, caffeine, fried foods, sugar and alcohol the first day of your healthier life, you are setting yourself up for failure (and chocolate stains on the bottle of wine). Instead, start your new lifestyle by giving up something you don’t really care about anyway. For example, stop putting cream and sugar in your coffee; you may find you like it better black, and you will save yourself unneeded sugars on a daily basis. Perhaps you have never had a sweet tooth- resolve to give up dessert after dinner completely, and you probably won’t even miss it! Always thought fast food was kind of gross? Convince yourself it’s really gross (it is) and never go back. Find an easy victory to start your new healthy habits with, and then pat yourself on the back.
2. Plan ahead. This step is crucial but often overlooked because it requires effort and forethought. When you don’t plan ahead for meals, you wind up in the drive-through line at a fast food joint deciding between deep-fried egg rolls or nacho cheese chicken. Just as you must plan for success, you must plan for a healthy lifestyle, because the “default” mode in America (and the rest of the western world) is not one of healthy eating. If you pay no mind to what you eat, you will wind up eating garbage. You must carve out time to sit down and plan your meals for the week before you go shopping; while you don’t have to write out every ingredient, you do need to know whether or not you have the groceries to create nutritious meals.
3. Stick to your list at the store. You can’t eat junk food if you don’t buy it in the first place. Resolve never to go grocery shopping when you are hungry, angry or sad, and realize that many unhealthy food purchases stem from needs and desires other than hunger. You have already planned out your meals, so stick to your list throughout the store in order to foil the grocer’s psychological tricks to try and make you buy more. Six hundred cookies for $6 is NOT a deal in the long run. Before you check out, stop and go over everything in your cart to make sure no impulse purchases of junk food have snuck in. Toss those chips back to the bin.
4. Eat foods you love. Eating is one of the great pleasures in life, and eating healthy does not have to be about denying yourself your favorite foods in favor of those you dislike. If you hate celery, forget it! Love cheese but not the calorie count? Learn to enjoy stronger, sharper cheeses and have just a bite instead of slathering a handful of cheese over your lunch salad. Look at your new healthy lifestyle as a positive new choice, and you will feel inspired on your new adventure instead of deprived of all the foods you are giving up.
5. Get rid of the blame. Did you slip and eat a giant slice of chocolate cake for breakfast? Instead of pummeling yourself for failing and feeling guilty, recognize you made an unhealthy choice and then move on. No food is inherently good or bad, and beating up on yourself for slipping up will only create unneeded stress. What you put into your body and how you deal with stress are the two biggest factors that determine your current and future health. Resolve to eat healthy and chill out, and you will increase the quality and quantity of your days.