Forming new healthy habits can require a surprising level of time, dedication, and discipline. Incorporating those habits into your daily routine can be even harder. Think back to a time you tried to adopt a healthy habit. Maybe you wanted to meditate first thing every morning, or get in the habit of taking a walk every afternoon. If you think about that experience, I expect you’ll remember how much of a struggle it was to get started. It was as if everything conspired to interrupt your good habit. It was suddenly extra difficult to get up every morning and sit quietly. Or maybe all of a sudden your meetings conflicted with the time you’d designated to take your walk. Starting habits is the most important part of getting into habits. And it’s also one of the hardest parts! But when you do manage to get into a habit and stick to it, it can be life-changing.
Researchers ballpark that the average time it takes to form a habit (and retain said habit) can vary anywhere from as short as 18 days, to as long as 254 days. That’s a huge difference! (For more information, see this study from the European Journal of Social Psychology.)
And that’s why it can be beneficial to have someone in your corner, cheering you on, like a coach. It can help to reduce the amount of time it takes to ease into a new lifestyle.
It’s also important to realize there may not be a clear stressor getting in your way of healthy eating. Maybe it’s not your schedule or thought patterns. Instead, subtle biochemical factors can play a part. Things like leptin resistance could be keeping you trapped in a subconscious cycle compelling you to eat unhealthy foods (Dovepress).
Emotional eating can also be a barrier. You may be drawn toward unhealthy eating as an outlet to cope with stress or negative feelings, even when they ultimately reinforce stress or negative feelings. (American Psychological Association.)
This is why it’s essential to get to the root cause of unhealthy eating, rather than to try to use willpower to “overcome” it. Willpower is not enough. And the truth is, you don’t need it.
Learning How To Start Eating Healthy Comes With Grace
It’s equally important to note that you don’t need to eat healthily all the time. Developing a habit makes something the norm, however, the goal isn’t to stay on track 24/7. One of the issues we have when trying to change our lifestyle is that we feel guilty if we “fall off the wagon.” But the truth is, it’s perfectly fine to have days when you eat whatever you want. It’s healthy to do this and it helps avoid deprivation. When you experience deprivation, you get fixated on what you can’t have and this just perpetuates the cycle. The 80/20 rule is a good rule of thumb. Eat healthy 80 percent of the time and don’t worry about the other 20. I talk about this in more detail here.
Unhealthy habits can be unlearned. The brain is a neuroplastic tool. It is malleable and capable of change. You can evolve and adapt for the better. Even the least nourishing thought patterns can be realigned into healthier, more constructive, and more productive habits.
If you’d like to start eating healthier but don’t really know where to begin, let me help point you in the right direction. Let’s run through a point-by-point breakdown of some basic healthy eating pointers, tips on curtailing unhealthy eating habits, and how to replace them with habits that contribute to achieving your weight loss goals without effort.
Eating Healthy Tips: How To Start Eating Healthy For Beginners
First and foremost, if you are wanting to eat more healthily, skip dieting. There are harmful effects of dieting that can lead to physical and mental adversities. Diets can prove detrimental to your overall quality of life. They cause deprivation and can slow your metabolism. All of this is counterintuitive if you are wanting to lose weight.
However, if you’re wanting to pay more attention to what you eat. Here’s a list of stuff you can start with:
- A Less Processed Diet, A More Vibrant Diet: Extremely processed foods have been linked to a multitude of different health risks, particularly relating to your cardiovascular health. To reinforce a healthy diet, minimize the amount of preservatives you eat. At the same time, maximize your intake of colorful, nutrient-rich fruits and veggies.
- Mindful Reading Of Nutritional Fact Labels: The Food and Drug Administration explicitly states that the word “natural” doesn’t directly apply to health or nutritional benefits. Even if it superficially appears healthy or nutritional, you should still take the time to read the labels. Only then should you delve into the nitty gritty of a food’s actual nutritional value.
- Moderation Of Carbs, Oils, Fats, & Sugars: You shouldn’t totally cut fats or carbohydrates out of your eating. Complex carbs, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats are all nutritionally beneficial. You need them! However, having balance is good.
- Refreshing With Old-Fashioned, Quality H2O: No preservatives, no sugars, no additives, no harmful, processed chemicals. It’s a no-brainer that clean, drinkable water is the healthiest way to stay hydrated. Try to drink approximately 2.7-3.7 liters of water a day (MayoClinic).
- Sustainable Farming For Sustainable Living: Food sourced unethically from factory farms is often rife with harmful chemicals and unsanitary additives. Unsustainable farming often pollutes food with environmental toxins as well. Meat sourced from ethically-raised livestock is the healthier option for your body, as well as the planet at large.
- Eating Whole Grains In Lieu Of Refined Grains: Whole grains promote better gut health and combat inflammation. They also carry more nutrients than their refined grain counterparts.
Generally speaking, these are good places to start. Although you don’t need to strictly adhere to hard and fast rules. Too many rules can trigger food obsession. Food obsession is when you think about food far more than you should. You want to experience food freedom instead.
What To Do About Food Obsession
One of the main priorities of learning how to start eating healthy for beginners is to overcome food obsession. To do this, you’ll need to get down to the bottom of understanding the adverse beliefs driving your obsessions with food. A number of different triggers could be driving dietary cravings. These triggers could include certain emotions, people, or chemicals within the body. Figuring out the things that all perpetuate your obsession with food will be essential.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, part of the key to adopting healthier eating habits entails overcoming your dieter’s mindset. Constant overthinking will only serve to bring you back to square one. It will perpetuate the negative belief patterns reinforcing your obsessive eating patterns in the first place.
Instead, you need to rewire how you think about food and reset your body toward a healthy lifestyle.
How To Eat Healthy Food Everyday
Rather than trying to aggressively, authoritatively stamp out unhealthy cravings, it’s better to deconstruct unhealthy core beliefs, and reset your body to crave healthier foods. If you are wanting to go above and beyond forming healthier eating habits and lose weight, book a 1:1 clarity call.