As the new year approaches, people often try to change their eating habits.
Often, we try to do a complete overhaul of our diet and exercise on January 1st – no sugar, no carbs & an hour long workout! This sort of drastic change sets us up for failure.
Instead of abruptly engaging in new eating habits, think about developing healthy eating skills gradually as the year progresses.
There is often a learning curve associated with eating healthy, so it is best that you take your time to master each skill.
Here is some information about how to focus your eating goals in the new year.
Eat More Conscientiously
One way to eat more conscientiously during the upcoming year is to pay attention not only of what you’re eating but also when you’re eating.
Yes, reading labels and checking ingridients can be important, but more important to effecting a change in your diet is being present when you are eating.
In our fast paced culture, we eat while we’re driving, at our desks, or while we’re watching TV. It can be rare for us to sit down and take our time to appreciate what we are eating.
Try eating a meal with no distractions. Take the time to pay attention to the sensations of each bite – taste, texture, & temperature.
Take the time to chew each mouthful. As a child, my mother always told me to chew my food 32 times.
I didn’t listen to her when I was younger, but now I realize the importance of making sure to chew my food. Not only does it help me pay more attention to what I’m eating, but it aids in the digestion process.
When you slow down to eat, not only are you more likely to enjoy your meal, but it also helps you to maintain healthy portion sizes.
When you eat more slowly, your body has the chance to register when you are full. This helps you to stop eating before you over eat.
Make Gradual Changes
Try your best to make changes gradually throughout the year.
You can accomplish this by devising incremental changes and setting goals that represent those desired changes.
For example, instead of completely cutting out sugary beverages outright, you can aim to have two sugary drinks per week during the first three months of the year.
Then, you can aim to have one sugary drink per week during the second three months of the year.
Afterward, you can focus on having only one sugary drink per month during the third three months of the year.
Ultimately, during the last three months of the year, you would try to have no sugary drinks at all.
You can also use this approach with multiple goals. If you have multiple goals related to changing your eating, pick one to start with and focus on it for 1-2 months. Once you have a good handle on it, add a second goal while continuing the first.
Staggering your goals allows you to build up to healthy habits without overwhelming yourself.
You are more likely to adhere to your eating goals if you approach them gradually.
Do Not Aim for Perfection
Note that, when it comes to healthy eating, striving for perfection is not very realistic nor is it really attainable.
It’s important to work towards change in habits and not expect perfection immediately.
If you start on your healthy eating changes, and you find yourself slipping up, do not punish yourself for giving in to temptation. Punishment and shame will not help you to do better in the future – they make it more likely that you will mess up again.
Instead, take the time to analyse and work through why you made an eating choice that you did. Was it a choice based on convience? Were you stressed? Was it a special occasion?
Once you know why you’re making unhealthy choices, you can work on being prepared to change those choices in the future.
Make sure you leave room for a few unhealthy choices in your eating, especially at the beginning.
It’s more important to find a balance that you can maintain, then to eat perfectly all of the time.
What’s more, sometimes there is joy in sharing foods that may be unhealthy – you don’t want to opt out of every birthday cake.
Joy filled nourishment is about finding the balance between healthy eating, and habits that you can sustain.