How to make healthy habits stick!
With so many of us making promises as we do at the start of every year to be healthier, fitter, dry January, Veganuary etc. how many of us stick to them? This year being even tougher with lockdown announcements hitting us full force, I wonder how many just gave up on being healthier and instead, “comfort” and “survival” became a stronger motivating force?!
Most New Year resolutions are broken by the end of the month according to statistics and personally, I have never been a fan of making them. I much prefer to stick to small, achievable and realistic steps that I know I can make and stick to every day. So far this year (OK, only a week in ;-)) I have made some really small, but achievable changes that I know I can and will stick to. Have you heard the saying “small hinges swing big doors”?
Making new habits
Stress causes all kinds of problems when it comes to us sticking to healthy habits. When we are stressed we are more likely to turn to food for comfort; and not always healthy choices. Finding time to take stress down a level can help you stay in control and make those better choices.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee says in his “The Stress Solution” book, that it is easier to make a new, healthy habit stick if we attach it to a habit we already have. For example, if you know you want to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety, spending the few minutes doing nothing whilst you make your morning cuppa is time better spent than rushing around, emptying the dishwasher. This small step of just a few minutes “time-out” can make a difference. He also talks about the 3-4-5 breath which I still use every day. You breathe in for the count of 3, hold for the count of 4, and breathe out for the count of 5. The premise of this is that when we breathe out for longer than we breathe in we tell our sympathetic nervous system that all is calm and good and we can induce a sense of calm, reducing our stress response.
Other healthy habits could be to make a daily effort to move more, which could simply be a walk around the block before breakfast and lunch for example.
To have a healthier diet is of course my favourite goal! This looks slightly different for each of us as we don’t all like the same foods. You could simply take some of the evidence-based science that supports a heart-healthy diet for example, such as the DASH diet which encourages eating more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. But that advice is very generic and not specific enough to make it something you can see, feel, touch and implement in a measurable way. To really make a difference to the way you eat every day you need to make this a SMART goal; it must be specific, measured, achievable, realistic and timed.
Implementing SMART healthy eating goals
Be Specific: Eat 2 servings of fruit and 5-6 servings of vegetables/salad
Be Measured: Do this Every day
Make it Achievable: 2 servings of fruit is easy enough, 5-6 serving of vegetables/salad may seem trickier: If you aim for 3 different veg/salad items at lunch and again at dinner – you have done it!
Make sure it is Realistic: A squeeze of lemon over your chicken or salad counts towards your fruit serving and a handful of chopped parsley or another favourite herb counts towards your veg/salads servings.
Stick to it for a period – Timed: Make a habit of doing this every day for 1 month and see how you feel, review and re-instate if it has helped.
Eating Better for weight loss
These are just some of the tips and goals we work towards in my four week online programme Eat Better Feel Better which starts soon. My unique progamme has helped over 400 men and women lose weight (average weight loss over 4 weeks = 7lb’s) through eating better using real food and evidence based science of what really works and why. Once you understand why something is good for you and why it works, you are much more likely to stick to it. I would love you to join us.
Keep a Food Diary
Keeping a food diary can be a great way to get back on the “healthy wagon” I encourage everyone to do this so that you can be accountable to yourself and see what you are truly eating and drinking. It is so easy to become blind and ignore reality. Once they are written down they become a powerful tool for change. You can download your FREE food diary from my news page, here. Food Diary
Although these are small steps, they are achievable and they all add can help you get back on track.
Ways you can work with me
Don’t forget I am here to help you reach your specific health goals or help you with a niggling symptom. As a gut health specialist, I see lots of people who have been told the have IBS or suffer with bloating, gas and other digestive problems. Why not book your FREE discovery call with me so I can find out a little more about what is going on for you and see how I can help.
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Check out some of my healthy recipes for you to try.