3 foolproof ways to make healthy eating really work for you
by: Samantha Russell with LiveTheWhole.com
Healthy eating is hard to stick to. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is against you, with birthday parties, food-centered holidays, and potluck parties every second weekend.
I recently did a bunch of interviews with hard-working and accomplished women who all struggle to eat in a way that feels good to them. The number 1 thing they identified as getting in their way the most was consistency.
They all have so much knowledge about health, nutrition, and the way the want to be eating – but feel like life just constantly throws them curve balls and encourages them to eat more cake, buy more ice cream, and make exceptions to their plan all the time.
So, how can you make healthy eating actually work for you in a consistent way? Here are 3 foolproof ways to make healthy food choices your automatic ‘go to’ every day.
Step 1: Set SMART goals
Goals are great – you probably have them for your career, and maybe even your relationship, but have you stopped to formulate some great food and eating goals as well?
Just like any other goals in your life, healthy eating goals need to be SMART, or
Resonates with you, and
This means you have to think hard about exactly what you want to do, how you’ll measure your success, how to make the goal realistic for you and fit into your life, and when you’re going to pause and assess how things are going.
The problem with most healthy eating goals is that they go something like “I’m going to start eating better”, or “I’m going to cut down on carbs”, or even “I’m quitting sugar from now on”. There’s nothing wrong with trying any of these, but you’re going to need a better plan if you want to succeed.
For example, a SMART goal for “I’m quitting sugar” is:
“For the next 2 weeks (time managed), I am not going to eat or drink any sugar or added sweetener (specific + measurable). Instead, I’ll have a piece of fruit and drink green tea if I feel I need a little something extra (resonates + attainable).”
Step 2: Plan your meals the night before
Meal planning is the most helpful action step you can take to make healthy food choices easy – because you’ve already made them.
Simply sit down for 5 minutes before you go to bed and write down exactly what you’re going to eat the next day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks.
Yes, even if it involves looking up the menu of a restaurant. By making food decisions when you’re relaxed, not hungry, and can give them your full attention, you’ll make way better decisions that are more in-line with your goals.
Now, with the food decisions already made, all you have to do is stick with them. If you feel like you’re going to struggle with that, this is where step 3 comes in.
Step 3: Have an emergency recovery plan
No matter how SMART your goals are, or how much planning you do, there are definitely going to be times when it’s still hard to make healthy choices. Consistency is really key when you’re habit building, so I like to use the superpowers of
To help stay on track.
No matter how dedicated you are to changing your eating, stress, tiredness, and social pressure (to name just a couple of things!) can all make some really convincing sounding arguments as to why you should choose fast food tonight and “start eating healthy again in the morning”. Sometimes that’s ok, but when it’s happening multiple times a week, you’re not going to reach your goals.
So, when you can feel temptation or stress getting the better of you, take a moment to think about the bigger picture of why you want to eat healthier. Is it to be a good role model for you kids? Feel better in your body and be confident you trust yourself with food? Or to avoid carrying on the family history of type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure? Thinking about this bigger picture helps keep you motivated and on-track.
Some Lauri’s Lemonade Stand Podcast episodes that are great for this:
Interview with Katie Arms – take a moment out of your day to find out how Katie took a massive life-curveball and made it work for her on every level.
Interview with me – learn more about my struggle with change, eating, and consistency and how I personally made lasting change.
Interview with Makeda Pennycooke – learn how to transform you fear and make yourself feel safe.
The second secret weapon is meditation. You’re not going to want to do it – but trust me, put an app like headspace on your phone and when you feel yourself going off track in a way you don’t like, pop in your earphones and take a 5 minute timeout. Sometimes that’s all you need to refocus and get on with your day (and stick to the food plan you made the night before).
And finally, when you feel cravings creeping up on you, try mentally switching gears. Research shows that taking a break and doing something totally different with your brain reduces the intensity of cravings. In fact, the research was done using the game ‘Tetris’, which you can put on your phone right now. Fun, and helps you stay healthy.
The process of making healthy eating a habit is really all about practice, but it’s also about being prepared. Don’t expect (or even aim for) perfection, but you can definitely make healthy eating easy and automatic if you follow the 3 steps outlined above. Every great choice you make creates a positive cycle of self-trust, momentum, and motivation that can move your forward each day – towards a happier, healthier you.
About The Author:
Samantha runs Live the Whole and is certified by the Institute for the Psychology of Eating in the US, has a certificate in clinical and pastoral counseling from the University of Glasgow in the UK, and has a degree in psychology from Massey University in New Zealand.
Sam specializes in helping clients manage and heal their relationship with food, body, and self. She uses a blend of positive psychology and mind-body-nutrition connections, along with traditional coaching and counseling methodologies. She works together with clients to uncover the root causes of unwanted eating so they can feel happy, free, and in control.
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Wrenches in the Trenches are not your average, every day kind of hiccups in life. It’s when you’re on a streak of them that they become wrenches in the trenches. The last couple weeks of mine have been definite wrenches in the trenches and it’s not ready to stop just yet. I’m going to share some of this with you only as example, not to be hugely negative. (I promise to end on a positive note!)
My husband and I own a business and while I’ve stepped mostly away to build up Lauri’s Lemonade Stand, I’m still pretty involved. Nothing at that business happens at a convenient time. For example, let’s have our production manager quit without notice and then all of a sudden all of our clients need their orders yesterday. Then two days later your part-timer calls in sick and the day after that your other one does as well. Because this business pays ALL of our bills right now, that means that not only do my husband and I drop everything to keep it going, but my daughter as well. Talk about a family business! And it hasn’t stopped.
My daughter has finished high school, finished a vocational school and only has two mock state board finals to complete before graduating and then taking the state boards on April 3rd. She called the school admin and set up two dates, but that admin didn’t tell the other admin and her dates got taken. Even though we had set up everything with everyone to be there so now we are scrambling to get her a new model (thermolysis – permanent hair removal – have to bring your own model) on the only two dates they have left and one is the day before state boards meaning that if she doesn’t pass, can’t take state boards.
And then there’s the rain. I love rain! But not when it has the possibility of bringing flash floods to recent burn areas or cancels our mountain bike race for the weekend for our local high school mountain bike team and we are scrambling for practices or possible spin classes. That also means canceling hotels, changing plans, re-booking hotels for the next race, etc. I got most of my money back, but others refused a refund.
Last one…then there’s my dumb thyroid and the needle biopsy that hurt like the dickens and bruised my neck only to have the results come back inconclusive and being sent out for genetic testing that will take weeks to get those results. Not freaking out, but definitely a wrench psychologically to have to wait.
When life throws more than little hiccups your direction and there seems to be a steady stream, those are your wrenches in the trenches moments. Here’s what I do to combat feeling despair during these crazy life wrenches:
Wrenches in the Trenches are inevitable, but they do pass. If you’re in one now, I feel ya. The struggle is real. Take heart, this too shall pass.
Please leave your comments below on this article. I would love to hear from you!
“1 A Week” is an honest to goodness force of nature out there challenging everyone to to reach out. Together, we can make a difference. We have to. And kindness is the answer…simple, yet profound.
“If someone had smiled and said, ‘Are you okay?’ I know I would have begged them to help me. I would have told them everything and asked for help. I would not have jumped. I just was unable to ask for help myself.” These are the words of suicide survivor, Kevin Hines.
Hines, like many people who attempt suicide, feel as though they are alone in this world. With no sense of purpose and a feeling of loneliness, it can be hard for anyone to believe that their life is important. When hitting this point, a simple smile or, “hello,” could be enough to make someone feel like life is worth living.
What if you were to do even more than smile? What if you could do something that not only helped someone else, but made you feel good about yourself too? Even get reciprocated for your good deeds?
“1 a Week,” is an organization that raises mental health awareness and spreads positivity, through random acts of kindness. Encouraging everyone to share their acts, with a participant receiving a gift for their gesture each week.
The name, “1 a Week,” came about with the thought that while one good deed a week is very manageable to complete, you can still have a positive impact on many lives. It all starts with just one! The ripple effect that can occur starting with just one person, one random act of kindness, is limitless. Say you complete your 52 acts throughout the year, for 52 different people. Of those people, twenty of them take on the challenge themselves and complete another 52 deeds. Each of those twenty people, get another twenty, and so on, and so on. Do you know how many people that is, spreading the love? A whole lot, thats how many!
“But I don’t have a lot of spare money to perform any acts of kindness! I don’t have much spare time either and to top it all off, I don’t have any good ideas of what to do.”
These are some of the most common reasons people have for not getting in on the fun of giving. Here is the thing, to be kind doesn’t have to take any money, much time, or a lot of creativity. You can leave encouraging notes around town, give up your seat on a bus, pick up litter, shovel your neighbors walkway. There are endless possibilities! You do what you are capable of and as Kevin Hines pointed out, the impact doesn’t necessarily correlate with how big you go.
So how about those gifts you can receive?
“1 a Week,” teamed up with a few sponsor companies that want to do their part in spreading positivity giving. A month of online personal training? Top quality t-shirt or hat? Positive social interaction card game? A watch?? All gifts that are being sent out to the participants of the challenge.
So let’s get to the details of how to participate. There are two ways to share your acts. You can share it to the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/1aweekchallenge, and if you wish to remain anonymous, just send a private message, and it will be shared for you. You can also post it to your Instagram, tag @_1aweek in the post, and/or use the hashtag #1aweek. A recipient for that weeks gift is selected every Sunday night, announced on Monday.
There are plenty of statistics you can find throughout the internet about the positive mental effect an act of kindness has on the person performing it, not just the one on the receiving end. So if for no other reason, do it for your own health!
THIS IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION! This is your call to help make a change in not only your life, but the life of many others. Check out the, “1 a Week,” pages, get inspired, and get going!