Making healthy lifestyle changes can feel overwhelming at times. However, taking these small steps one at a time may lead to more profound changes over time. Watson Clinic dietitians recommend the following:
1) Rethink how you view your food and lifestyle choices. Avoid using the phrase "dieting," which has a temporary connotation attached to it. Instead, commit to making healthy lifestyle changes that will stay with you throughout your life.
2) Find one or two friends who also want to make healthy lifestyle changes. Having an accountability partner can motivate you to stick to your goals.
3) Set realistic goals! Unrealistic goals are impossible to maintain, and often result in discouragement, failure, and falling back into unhealthy habits.
4) Establish a plan. If you’d like to eat healthier, plan out your weekly meals. This obviously allows you to know what you're going to eat, and avoid last minute scrambles when you could easily slip from your eating plan. If your goal is to become more physically active, write down activities on your calendar just like appointments.
5) Avoid making a lot of changes at one time. Too many changes at once can become overwhelming. Pick a few changes to lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle, and then build upon those changes.
6) Avoid beating yourself up if you have a "bad meal" or "over did it." Simply re-evaluate your goals and start again. Negative thoughts only destroy your confidence.
7) Avoid denying yourself that dessert (or whatever your food vice may be). Just have less of it less often. Repeatedly denying yourself can lead to over-indulgence if you finally do give in. Nobody likes to be told "you can't have that." So, feel free to treat yourself every once in awhile.
8) Avoid having "unhealthy" food items in the pantry. Stock the pantry with healthy items. If it's not in the house it can't call your name! Have fruits and vegetables washed, ready to eat, and within eye sight in the refrigerator.
9) Avoid skipping meals. Going long periods without eating puts the body in starvation mode and eventually leads to overeating. Eat every 4-6 hours, setting reminders in your phone if needed.
10) Ask yourself "why am I eating?" Am I hungry, bored, or merely thirsty? We can mindlessly eat when we are bored or we mistakenly read the thirsty cue for being hungry.
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