Jump back on the healthy-eating wagon
According to Statistic Brain, 75% of Americans are able to maintain their New Year’s resolutions through the first week of January. But as time passes, it can be more and more difficult to stick with those noble goals that seemed like such a good idea back in December.
Perhaps one of the more common resolutions is to eat healthier and more nutritious food to improve overall health. The decadent holiday food fest that tends to run right through December can make starting fresh and eating a cleaner, healthier diet a fairly easy prospect in those first few weeks of the New Year. But eventually old habits can slip back in, undermining those healthy goals.
We’ve compiled some great tips and advice to help you get back on track.
- Forgive the slip. Humans are naturally resistant to change. Remember that it’s not easy to suddenly change habits that have become ingrained, and that setbacks are perfectly normal. Recognize the slip and move on.
- Start small. If you went cold turkey on January 1 and gave up every single treat and unhealthy food you crave, that could be part of the reason you’re having trouble sticking to your plan. Aim small with the long-term in mind. Cut out one unhealthy habit (switch from soda to sparkling water, for example), and once you’re comfortable with that change, take another small step.
- Add instead of subtract. This is a clever way to trick your brain into accepting a healthy change. Add more vegetables, add more fruit, and add more water. You’ll naturally have less room for the bad if you keep adding the good, and you may feel less deprived if you focus on the pluses instead of the minuses.
- Try to avoid making 100% resolutions. According to Connie Stapleton Ph.D., a psychologist in Augusta, GA, setting absolute resolutions like, “I’m giving up all sweets forever” may encourage your inner rebel to figure out a way around your overly strict rule. Leave yourself some wiggle room by just giving yourself limited restrictions so that you can still indulge in old favorites every now and then.
- Find support.With the internet at your fingertips it’s simple to find online communities of like-minded people who are working towards the same goals. There’s strength in numbers, so consider contributing to chat boards and forums where you can get advice and encouragement. SparkPeople is a great resource for those seeking to live healthier lives.
- Celebrate your successes. Rewards are a great way to stay motivated. Choose a simple goal—maybe decide that you will avoid all sweet treats for an entire week, or eliminate sugar from your morning coffee for a month—then make a point of celebrating the successful achievement of that goal with a little reward. Buy yourself a new workout shirt, sleep in on the weekend without guilt or make plans for a night out with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Knowing there’s a prize at the end of each small achievement can help keep you going through those challenging days.
- Be specific. Instead of just saying you’re going to eat healthier, figure out exactly how you’re going to achieve that end. Are you going to eat fish once a week? Switch to a lower sugar, higher fiber cereal? Swap your afternoon cookie for an afternoon apple? Once you have those specific goals, it’s easy to track your progress and to celebrate your achievements.
If you’ve fallen off the wagon since that big glittery ball dropped on January 1, don’t worry—there is always time to hitch a ride on the next one. Just remember, you’re a work in progress and changing your eating habits should be a marathon, not a sprint.