10 Ways to Make Healthy Eating Habits Work for You
Healthy eating habits and proper nutrition are part of any successful healing journey. The foods you eat should provide nutrients that help your body perform at it’s best. A diet high in anti-inflammatory foods should be part of your everyday life. You can read more about an anti-inflammatory diet HERE. In general, whole real foods are the foods you should include in your meals. Examples of these include vegetables, fruits, wild-caught seafood, or grass-fed/pasture-raised poultry and beef.
Once you understand the types of foods to include in your diet, you can incorporate these more in your meals. Evaluating your habits is essential in this process, and adapting them to be meaningful to you is the vital part. You want your new nutrition habits and healthy eating behaviors to work for you.
If you’re worried about making the switch from processed foods to healthier options, your taste buds will change over time. That’s why it’s essential to think about your new habits as a new lifestyle for you. For example, I ate fast food as a child (not knowing any better, of course). Now, I don’t want anything to do with those foods because I know they aren’t healthy for me. Even better, because my taste buds changed, and those “foods” don’t taste good to me anymore.
In the health and fitness space, there is a 21/90 principle used by most health professionals to describe new health habits.
It takes 21 days to develop a new habit. It takes 90 days to make the new practice a lifestyle.
Consistency over time pays off. There is a positive compounding effect that occurs when you make little changes over time.
These ten principles can be applied to almost any new healthy habit you are trying to incorporate into your life.
1. Identify Your Purpose
Your purpose will be individual, but this should be the first step in identifying your new healthy eating habits. The most compelling reason for eating healthy needs to be intrinsic (for you), rather than extrinsic (for someone else). Why do you want it? What purpose does it serve in your life? Maybe it’s because you want to live a healthy life and set an example for your children. Perhaps it’s because you are tired of having joint pain, so you want to eat better to feel better. The reason will be YOUR reason, and only you can define it. So start with this before you move on to the next steps.
2. Develop a plan
Develop a plan that’s right for you. Make sure your new healthy eating changes are attainable and the ones you want to do. I suggest you pick 1-2 new healthy eating habits to incorporate into your new routine. For example, switch from white to whole grain bread and switch from eating white potatoes to eating sweet potatoes, which are more nutrient-dense. You could also tackle increasing your water consumption, which is essential for bodily healing and health in general. Read more about the importance of water in our post HERE.
3. Pick an Attainable Change
Only you know what you can commit to given your schedule and other priorities in life. Choose something small to change, focus on that first. If it seems unattainable, break it into smaller changes for yourself. Remember, you want this to be a pleasurable experience. You want to enjoy the new healthy food you’re eating, not dread eating it. You don’t want new habits to feel like a chore. Yes, they’ll take some muscle and maybe some willpower, but remember your purpose and why you chose this new route for your health.
4. Find an Accountability Partner
You can talk to your best friend or your spouse. Find someone you can share your new eating habits with and ask them to keep you accountable. You can ask them to inquire with you every week, every month, whatever works for you. This will help you stay more accountable.
5. Find an Accountability Group
Just like an accountability partner, an accountability group can help you encourage situations that promote your new healthy eating habits and encourage positive behaviors. You can find a walking group, a healthy cooking class, or an online group to help with your accountability. These are also great places to find like-minded people that are going through similar lifestyle changes as you. They likely have helpful tips and hacks that will make your new habits easier.
6. Plan for a Mess-Up
You won’t be perfect in this new lifestyle, so plan to mess up. Don’t beat yourself up over it. The best thing you can do is learn why you made the slip and evaluate what you can do differently the next time to avoid it. To avoid mess-ups along the way, you can build in specific times or occasions where you will deviate. While this doesn’t work for everyone, experiment, and see if it works for you. Some people are better off being strict with their new habits, while others like to deviate occasionally. Remember, though, you want whatever new healthy habits you’re working on to stick.
7. It Will be Hard
Nothing worth having is ever easy, right? Prepare for it; it will be hard. Change is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary to achieve the results we want. Make sure you incorporate ways to deal with it in your new routine. Find healthy ways to reward yourself for achieving new milestones. Try to avoid food-related rewards so you don’t slip back into your old eating habits.
8. Be Ready for Your Change
Sometimes we try to change our habits in the middle of a crazy life season. Recognize the best time in your life to make these new healthy eating habits. However, at the same time, don’t like timing be an excuse. No time will be perfect; you have to pick the BEST time and start.
9. Starting Your New Lifestyle
Don’t be a procrastinator. If you are thinking about changing your eating habits, start small and GO FOR IT! There will never be a perfect day to begin. You don’t have to wait until Monday; you can start today if you want.
10. Talk to Your Healthcare Professionals
Chat with your healthcare professionals about your new healthy eating habits. They may have helpful resources for you to use, such as health coaches, nutritionists, fitness trainers, or other specialists. They may also want to run lab work to help identify key areas you’ll want to focus on.
Other Helpful Tips
- Remember that food is your fuel.
- Eat mindfully.
- Focus on adding more nutrients to your meals.
- Build a positive relationship with food.
- Recognize your eating patterns and habits.
- Plan meals and mealtimes ahead of time for success.
- Drink lots of water.
- Incorporate movement/exercise into your routine.
If you want a done-for-you meal plan, check out our anti-inflammatory meal plan here! It has shopping lists and detailed recipes for you to start your health journey today!
How Healing Works, Wayne Jonas, M.D.