Practice Makes It Possible
By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
Practice Makes it Possible: Top 10 Tips for Making Healthy Eating Habits Stick (for good this time).
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?
A Reboot is fantastic practice in healthy eating choices! You’ve just spent the past 5, 15 or even 60 days building invaluable skills in making healthy eating (and drinking) choices in your day to day life. Now that you have this important foundation, let’s think about how it can grow into a lifetime of wellness.
Exciting new research is uncovering exactly how our eating behaviors can be learned or unlearned. So, how can we retrain our brains to crave vegetables, fruits and other plant foods instead of high fat foods laden with sugar and salt? Just like learning to play piano or mastering Spanish, there are many ways to go about it. Finding the right ones that work for you is an important discovery on the road to long term wellness. One idea: you could start with your favorite Reboot recipes and begin to add back plant based proteins, like nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and whole grains.
Here are just 10 possibilities, so keep in mind you may find your own techniques. When you do, please share them with us!
- Just say no! To fried foods, fast food, sugary drinks… anything you would consider the opposite of a healthy food. Little bits of most foods are fine in moderation 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Surround yourself with supports. Spend time with likeminded friends and family who are also trying to make healthy eating a lasting part of their life and those a little further along the path who can help guide you and give you encouragement. Seek out online friends to turn too for some confidence boosts (like all of us here at Reboot Your Life!).
- Get your home base involved. Ask roommates or family members to take turns suggesting or better yet preparing a healthy, plant based dish for dinner.
- 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, take out/lunch cafe, grocery stores.
- 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 honey instead of sugar-free syrups.
- Take the edge off hunger, especially before a social event or grocery shopping. Have a fiber rich snack an hour or two before you will be submerged in tempting choices.
- Try a small bowl of whole grain cereal with berries and almond milk
A few (around 12) almonds or walnuts and a small to medium sized apple or pear
1/4 cup hummus with celery and carrot sticks.
- 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!
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.
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. And don’t fret 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 🙂