Make small changes for lasting impact
By BROOKE KELLEHER
We are three weeks into 2019, coming up to the time when our drastic New Year’s resolutions start to lose their sparkle. “New year, new me” just doesn’t feel as real unless the changes are big and bold. However, that’s not always the best tactic for longevity when it comes to lifestyle choices such as nutrition. Making extreme diet changes is not your only option to start the year off on the right nutritional foot. In fact, it’s the smaller, easier, more enjoyable changes that are more likely to stick. Aim to enrich a habit or two rather than overhaul an entire lifestyle.
To make your nutrit-olutions stick this year, here are a few recommendations:
Focus on additions more than restrictions
Notice how your goals are worded. Are you CUTTING out added sugars and refined grains? Or are you ADDING more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains? Being inclusive, rather than exclusive, of our food choices can set us up for long-term success. Although it seems paradoxical, actively avoiding a thought or a food only makes it more pressing in our minds and in our deepest cravings. Thinking about all that you CAN or CAN’T have during 2019 is far more defeating from the get-go than focusing on adding the new foods that you’ve challenged yourself to explore this year.
Set yourself up for success
Our environment plays a huge role on our choices. Luckily, we have the power to make our environment one that encourages healthy food decisions. Keeping fruits and vegetables visible makes us more likely to consume them. Another good trick is bringing a grocery list when food shopping. Our internal environment affects our food choices, too. Sleep deprivation hormonally affects our appetite. Set yourself up for healthy choices by catching the right amount of Z’s for your body each night.
A common theme with dieting is including a “cheat day” where all common sense and awareness of our body’s signals go out the window. Instead of having a free-for-all day, enjoy your favorite indulgences with purpose. Food is delicious, and we have every right to enjoy it regardless of whether it’s part of some sort of nutrition resolution. The more extreme the diet, the more extreme (and harmful) cheat days will be. Making all the “right” nutrition choices but forgetting to love your food is a total disservice to yourself and your taste buds. Make your resolution about what you enjoy, not what you have to escape from or feel like you’re cheating to eat.
Wellness over weight
Lastly, the classic New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. A healthy weight is incredibly important to a healthy life. It impacts sleep, joint health, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and so much more. While I don’t want to take away from the impact a healthy weight can have, focusing more on decreasing a number than on the feeling of wellness can make us lose sight of the reason for losing weight in the first place. Instead of recording the change of the number on scale, try jotting down a sentence or two expressing your daily energy, ability to move, and outlook on life. Nutrition affects more than the scale. Having a nutrition resolution isn’t about what you lose in weight but what you gain in wellness.
All in all, when making diet changes think of altering habits, not your whole life. We should by no means be thinking about what we ate, when we ate it, our caloric intake, and so on 24/7. Taking care of your diet should never feel like a sacrifice — quite the opposite. Here’s to 2019 and beyond with dietary habits that will fit your lifestyle for the long term.