Written By Dr. Jenna Arts
There really is no better time to start investing in your health than right now. It’s okay if you have made poor choices in the past, that some unhealthy habits have crept back in or that your motivation, discipline or love of cooking and exercise has faded away.
"At any given moment you have the power to say: this is not how the story is going to end." -- Christine Mason Miller.
If I could wave a magic wand over your head and guarantee incredible health… impeccable digestion, quality sleep, balanced hormones, easy weight loss, consistently high energy, great mobility, and a life free of sickness, pain and disease… I would.
But that isn’t how the body works. You cannot dream up better health, you have to actually put in the work. So if you want to start creating healthier eating habits, here are seven simple steps to start today. They really are simple, I promise.
1. Track what you are eating and drinking. Becoming intimately aware of what you are eating every day is the best way to start living in reality. Eating can become so habitual and automatic that we don’t realize how much we’re eating, when we’re eating and how much sugar is really creeping in. You may choose to write down what you are eating in your journal or leverage an app like My FitnessPal. The benefit of using an app like this is that it will self calculate total calories and macronutrient ratios. So if this is something you want to be conscious of based on your specific health or weight loss goals, then this is a great app for that.
2. Start planning ahead. Why stress out about a busy week coming up, a weekend out of town or a planned vacation when you can plan for events like this before they even happen? If you are anticipating an interruption in your regular routine, start doing things that will make your life easier when these come up.
Are you working late this Monday and Tuesday? Prepare a couple slow cooker freezer meals on Sunday afternoon and toss them in the slow cooker before you leave for work in the morning. Are you heading up to the cottage for the weekend and won’t have all your own kitchen tools, gadgets and “extras”? Check out our Perfect Summer Menu Plan for a detailed plan, all recipes, grocery lists and food prep instructions.
3. Use the 30-minute rule. Has this ever happened to you before? You are bored and aimlessly wander into the kitchen. Before you even know what’s happening you’re halfway done a pint of ice cream (and you weren’t even hungry to begin with!). To prevent feeling guilty or overeating, implement the 30-minute rule. Give yourself 30 minutes to really decide whether you want to eat whatever it is you’re craving.
During this time try identifying what you are really looking for (comfort, relaxation, just something to do) and find something that will give you what you want. Try one of these 50 things instead. After 30-minutes you have taken the impulsiveness out of the behaviour and you will probably find that you have satisfied the need you were looking for in the first place.
4. Make your eating habits automatic. Automating as much as possible eliminates decision fatigue, which is the increased likelihood of making bad decisions after having to make too many decisions. The little things (what to wear, what to pack for lunch) add up and can take your energy away from focusing on more challenging habits that you want to develop.
Start by automating your weekly routine. Choose one day to create a plan for the week and map out what your family will be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Next, grocery shop. And last, prepare a bunch of food for the upcoming week on a single day. Want to take the guesswork out even further? Download our 1-Week Eat By Design Menu Plan.
5. Think like a master. When you’re just starting out creating new healthy habits the entire process can seem overwhelming. Remember, it’s more important to strive for progress, not perfection. Imperfect Eat By Design is far better than forfeiting every single healthy habit. Do what you can based on your time, financial resources and experience level.
6. Ask for help. You will be amazed at how willing your husband, partner, kids or roommate may be to help you out with tasks around meal prep, grocery shopping and clean up. Are there affordable ways to get healthy meals on your dinner table without you doing all of the shopping, cooking and cleaning so that you can avoid stopping to get take-out three times a week? Of course there is! Check out our top suggestions here.
7. Talk about your health goals. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable or nervous telling someone about your weight loss goal. Sometimes it can take us so far out of our comfort zone that we keep those important goals a secret. But we both know that without accountability and support you are not going to reach your goal.
If your husband knew you were trying to lose ten pounds I bet he would stop asking you to go for ice cream. If your best friend knew you were trying to make it to the gym three mornings a week she would probably stop calling you late at night to keep you on the phone. After hiring a coach, your family and friends can serve as your greatest support and accountability partner to help you reach your most important goals.
I hope you found these seven simple tips helpful. I would love for you to comment below with the strategy you are going to implement first.