By: Dr. Keith Kantor
There is something very refreshing about the beginning of the New Year, it’s a clean slate, you can let go of some of the poor habits and then there is always the hope of accomplishing many of the things you have always wanted to in the previous years.
The most popular resolution is weight loss through diet and exercise, and 80% of weight loss is contributed to your diet. A sound nutrition plan can help you be successful in all areas of your life. Proper nutrition habits boost energy, confidence and help develop proper sleep patterns, which overall improve quality of life.
Here are the top 5 tips to maintaining healthy eating habits and stick to your diet resolution this upcoming year.
Make things easy.
Will power can run out quickly if you feel like your new goal requires too much time and effort. Consider incorporating a shop from home grocery store into your budget. The convenience alone can increase your success rate of sticking to your healthy nutrition plan. All you need to do is cook your healthy meals rather then make a grocery list, go to the store, shop for them, wash everything and then plan and prepare the meals. It is healthier and less expensive than eating out.
Be accountable to yourself first. It is common for people to play the blame-game when it comes to explaining their current health. Instead of blaming the convenience of fast food, demands at work, or your family members who bring treats, take ownership when it comes to your health. Know that you are the only one to actively change your behavior. Mindset is truly the key to long lasting results. Research has showed that physically writing down goals and declaring them increases your success by almost double. Accountability groups, or healthy professionals can make a program more effective. Hiring a Dietitian or fitness trainer to check your food dairy, and measure you weekly will help you remain faithful to your program. If a professional is not in your budget join and actively participate in an online accountability group that shares success stories and strategies about nutrition, health and fitness. These groups are powerful.
Start small. Successful people who are looking to make healthy lifestyle changes don’t make the mistake of biting off more than they can chew. No goal is ever too small, continuous small changes over a period of time are what lead to big results.
Habits take time to establish; expecting to make several changes all at once to yield a result is unrealistic. Habits take a long time to stick; Phillippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Lally and her research team decided to figure out just how long it actually takes to form a habit.
The study examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person chose one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.
Some people chose simple habits like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch.” Others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers analyzed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.
On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days. This research is not meant to discourage people it is meant to give a realistic timeline and expectation.
If your goal is to eat more vegetables and you have not been eating any at all then try to get in 1 serving at each meal rather than the optimal 9-11 servings per day. Once you have become comfortable eating 2-3 servings then up the frequency.
Maintain a positive mindset. Start the lifestyle change off right, instead of telling yourself you really need to stop drinking sodas or sweet teas, focus on increasing your water consumption instead. Decreasing the feeling of deprivation is very important and the payoff to that approach is huge. Perception has a major impact on how you feel day in and day out. If you perceive your new lifestyle goals are tedious, boring, hard, or bland then you will not stick with them for long.
Practice positive mantras and internal dialogue, talk about how good you feel when you are fit and eating healthy, focus on how encouraging it is to have your pants fit better, or the increased energy and healthier skin.
Ensure you are getting adequate nutrients through supplementation. Unfortunately the food that we consume today does not contain as many nutrients as it did years ago. The food is being produced in mass quantities and the soil simply does not contain enough vitamins and minerals as it once did. First and always aim to eat the highest quality of foods especially meats, produce and dairy that are certified all natural and free of chemicals, preservatives, added sugars, dyes, etc. The higher the food quality the better your body will absorb the nutrients and metabolize the food.
In addition to a high quality nutrition plan supplements can help reduce cravings and promote weight loss by keeping the body adequately nourished and balanced. The core supplements recommended to anyone include a high quality multi-vitamin, omega 3 fish oil, vitamin D-3, and a probiotic. Consult with a health professional that specializes in functional medicine for additional supplement recommendations if you have a specific health issue such as, thyroid, adrenal, or hormone imbalance.
Stay educated on the latest. Most people know what they need to do but often road block themselves from success because they really do not understand, “why”. For example, you know you should cut out artificial sweeteners, but if you don’t know why, you are more likely to consume them with the “ignorance is bliss” mindset, and your success is limited. Read credible magazines, books, and blogs that are backed by honest research. There are so many health and nutrition focused podcast or audio books that you can listen to while commuting to work.
Be realistic about your New Years resolution and set goals and make changes slowly. Long-term results happen when changes and lifestyles are established gradually.
Photo Credit- Huffington Post