Healthy eating is not about starving yourself or force yourself to stick to a "diet" no one wants to talk about. Rather, it's about eating the food you want to in moderation, feeling great, having more energy and improving on your health and mood.
Ever feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting diet and nutrition advice out there? You're NOT alone! It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite.
Quite often, the convenient food found in the grocery stores are flavored with too much sugar, salt and unhealthy ingredients.
Many of these unhealthy ingredients are hidden which is why it is significant to pay more attention to the food labels. It is necessary to know what you are putting into your mouth. By reading food labels, you get to compare and find food that have the nutritional value your body needs.
To improve your eating habits permanently is easier said than done. Here are the 3-R’s to destroy and build a new habit:
• REFLECT or be aware of your current eating habits, every little details of it. Take note and also pay attention to what triggers these habits.
• REPLACE your old habits to the new, healthier ones.
• REINFORCE your new empowering habits to make it stick for long-term.
1. Track Your Eating Habits
The simplest way to track what you eat and drink is by setting up your diary in a notebook or downloading a food journal app on your phone. Keep track of all the things you eat and drink. Remember to track your total water intake as well. It is significant to ensure you stay hydrated at all times.
After some time, you will notice that there are areas where you think you would like to improve and make changes. For instance, you might notice you have the habit of skipping breakfast or don't take enough fruits. These are some of the areas where you can improve on.
2. Highlight Your Eating Habits
Doing so allows you to discover the habits that lead you to eat more than you're supposed to. Below are some of the habits that make you overeat:
• You eat when you are not hungry
• You ignore nutrition advice
• You are always craving for dessert
• You eat too fast
• Going wild on weekend
• You kick it with unhealthy pals
• You habitually use food as therapy
• You have the habit of skipping meals
3. Pay Attention To The Unhealthy Eating Habits You've Highlighted
Awareness is always the first step to change. So you have to find out all the triggers that cause you to overeat. Once you have identified, the next thing you have to do is to take some time to list out which you would like to work on improving first. Remember, behaviors are driven by cravings for rewards or avoidance of negative consequences. So don't forget to pat yourself on the back for the things you're doing right. It’s important to celebrate (I think that’s just as true in life as it is with habits).
We want to continue doing things that make us feel good. Don't forget to reward yourself so that you become more motivated to turn it into a habit.
For example, if you've chosen to have salad instead of burger as your dinner, celebrate your progress with a reward. Take time to celebrate!
Always remember to reward yourself as you make simple changes that in the end will result in achieving your overall goal.
4. List Down Your "triggers"
It is important to jot down your "triggers" so that you will be aware when you eat for reasons other than hunger. This allows you to pay more attention to your typical feeling at those times. Some of the most common reasons that encourages overeating includes environmental "triggers" and emotional state.
8 common triggers for eating when not hungry are:
• Because the Clock Says So
• Because You're Tired
• Suffering from the clean plate syndrome
• Clock says so
• During a very stressful period, i.e assignment period
• Sitting at home watching television
• Opening up the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack food.
• Can't Say No to Food Pushers
4-Step Eating Habit Hacks
1. Mark the “triggers” on your list that you encountered on a daily or weekly basis:
- For example, attending a birthday party may be a trigger for you to have a “Cheat” day to overeat, so simply have that piece of cake that doesn’t fit into your daily food intake goals! Thus, you may want to attend as many birthday parties as possible as a “trigger” for you to overeat. Some triggers may be as absurd as not going to the gym as a trigger to binge! Don’t fret upon it, simply mark them down for now.
2. Now, ask yourself these questions for each “trigger” you’ve marked:
Does this fit in to my fitness goals? How does it made me feel afterwards?
- Obviously your answer will be NO, and you felt like PIG after you binge. Well, your answer may vary, just write them down to have clarity and create the “Pain” and “Disgust” so that you know you MUST CHANGE.
How can I avoid this situation?
- After noticing the triggers and the pain your non-empowering actions brought upon you, find a way to avoid that situation.
For example, you choose to workout at another gym instead of your usual gym located next to Mc Donald.
- Or drinks lots of water when you realize that you’re in “Binge mode”
- Or choose another place to study instead of your home kitchen!
But you can’t avoid birthday parties of someone important, or your staff meeting right? So what can you do?
Ask this question:
What should be done differently to develop a healthier diet?
- The key here is to plan ahead! And when you ask this question beforehand, your brain will naturally find better alternatives to make sure that you stick to your fitness goals!
- Maybe it’s bringing healthy snacks to work (especially when there are long hours ahead)
- Track your food, make sure it fits your daily macronutrients and don’t overeat. Being food-conscious in a party is a good way to control yourself.
- Eat lots of veggies before attending a party! Being filled before the party is a good way to not binge.
3. REPLACE unhealthy eating habits with new, healthier ones.
Now that you’ve asked yourself the above questions and have a clear sense of awareness, you simply have to take action to replace your old eating patterns!
Perhaps you overeat because you’re eating too fat? Eat slowly.
Perhaps you overeat not because of hunger, but due to stress, anxiety, anger or frustrations? Replace it with other activities such as going for a jog, visit a friend, read an uplifting book, talk to your family… you’ll definitely feel better and you’ll totally forget about your hunger!
The key to lasting change is to PLAN AHEAD – so write down your daily, weekly and monthly fitness goals, what your food choices are, your body weight goals… and STICK TO IT!
4. Finally, REINFORCE your new eating habits!
Rome is not built in a day – so is your body and your habit. You need to practice your new eating habit day by day, week by week, to rewire your old eating pattern to a new one.
But this is the hardest part, because it requires patience. But stick with it anyway! Believe that it’s all worth it in the end. Special tips to make this work is to have a mastermind group to keep each other accountable, join a community, a challenge group, update your close friends and family about your goals, picture yourself eating healthy greens and having those washboard Abs, vibrant, happy and full of energy!
One of the best way to reinforce this habits and make it ingrained into your subconscious mind is to write out a list of 100 reasons WHY you want to be fit / Eat healthy?
Having the 100 Reasons WHY is going to pull you towards your goal, creating a gravity that guarantees your success, as many burnt out after pushing too hard for far too long. Thus having 100 reasons create that ‘gravity’ to pull you to your fitness goals almost effortlessly.
So there you have it! 4-Step Eating Habit Hacks and all the crucial information you ever need to start eating healthy and live a long, strong, fruitful and fulfilling life!