By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
It’s that time of year again when gyms are packed, runners are out in rain, snow or shine, you’re dusting off your juicer and stocking up on fruits, veggies and making lots of promises to yourself that this will be the year for you to get your health back on track!
Despite best intentions and really good reasons for wanting to make healthy changes last, come the end of January your new way of being may start to slack. Why does this happen? What can you do to help support your New Year’s resolve? Here are 13 tips for successful, LASTING health behavior change in 2013!
1.) Practice, Practice, Practice. Piano, algebra, foreign language and soccer all have something in common; getting good at it takes practice. Making healthy eating choices is no different. For a new behavior to become comfortable and familiar it must be learned. Learning takes repeated practice – did you know it can take 15 to 20 tries before a child will accept a new food?
2.) Just say no! To fried foods, fast food, cupcakes, and sugary drinks. In moderation, most foods are fine but while you are in the process of making these changes stick, gauging what is moderate can be more difficult and often just a little bit is tempting enough to be discouraging.
3.) Juice daily. For many, juicing is a new, learned behavior that can help you to both take in healthy nutrients your body needs and also support the behaviors you are trying to incorporate into your day to day life.
4.) Keep produce handy. Make healthy foods visible, front and center in the fridge, keep non-perishables in a bowl on the table or kitchen counter, bring fresh fruits and veggies in your bag or with you in the car.
5.) Stay active. Commit to physical activity with simple exercises like walking. Check out the Reboot Movement Method for more info, tips and a fitness plan perfect for during your Reboot or anytime.
6.) Surround yourself with support. Spend time with likeminded friends and family who are also trying to make healthy eating a lifestyle and even those a little further along the path who can help motivate you. Seek out online friends to turn to for some confidence boosts (like all of us here at Reboot with Joe!). Get your home base involved, too. Ask roommates or family members to take turns suggesting or better yet preparing a healthy, plant based dish for dinner.
7.) Make a list of health eating options away from home. Research these establishments online first to get a sense of their offerings. Ideas include juice bars, smoothie shops, salad bars, restaurants, and grocery stores.
8.) Avoid artificial sweeteners. Research is revealing that even without actual sugar or calories, our bodies still respond as if we’ve just eaten sugar. Our taste buds get flooded with overly sweet flavor, which won’t help to retrain your cravings away from sweets and toward healthier foods. If you need to flavor water try a fresh lemon, lime, orange wedge or splash of fresh juice from your juicer, for sweetening up recipes try stevia or raw organic and preferably local honey instead of sugar-free syrups.
9.) Take the edge off hunger, especially before a social event or grocery shopping. Have a fiber rich snack, like quinoa or gluten free oats with berries and almond milk, 12 almonds or walnuts and an apple, or ¼ cup of hummus with celery sticks an hour or two before you will be submerged in tempting choices.
10.) Tackle taste. Boost flavor and nutrients with herbs and spices (fresh is best). Let the flavor linger on your tongue and eat slowly to get the most out of your experience. Don’t forget to engage your other senses like smell – take a whiff of these potent flavor enhancers to get your saliva flowing!
11.) Enjoy the view. Take time to look at and appreciate the bright, vibrant colors of the foods on your plate. Describe what you see to the people you are with.
12.) Try to remember that “good” and “bad” foods don’t exist – better choices do! It’s one step at a time, one sip of juice at a time, each choice matters and makes a difference.
13.) Be kind. If you end up choosing something that’s not in line with your healthy eating plan; we’re all human. You can get right back into your plan the very next time you eat by making a choice you can feel good about. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for your healthy choices! Being good to ourselves takes practice, too 🙂