How many times have you started a new diet or healthy eating plan only to have your good intentions gradually slip away? When that happens, you may find yourself back where you started and frustrated with your lack of ability to keep on track. You may know how to eat right, but staying consistent with what you have started is another matter. Here are five ways to help you make healthy eating habits stick.
Set Reasonable, Attainable Goals Decide what your most important goals are and write them down. Goals need to be specific and measurable. Simply writing down something like “I want improve my bad eating habits” is not specific or measurable. Having a written goal such as “I will eat 3 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruit every day” is specific and measurable.
Learn From Others Changing your eating habits is often easier said than done. One way to find strategies that will work for you is to discuss your goals with a nutrition professional. Choose someone with the experience and educational credentials that makes them a nutrition expert, such as a Registered Dietitian. This type of professional has the skills to help you develop goals and can teach you strategies to help you reach your goals.
Keep a Journal When learning new skills, keeping a record of what you are doing is essential. One way to get immediate feedback is to keep a written journal of what you are eating and review your journal at least once daily. Writing it down as you go can lets you know instantly exactly what you are eating and can give you quick insight into what areas need improvement.
Accept that you will have some setbacks It’s human nature to revert back to old behaviors, especially when social occasions, holidays or unexpected events occur. Accept the fact that sometimes life gets in the way of your plans. Many people view their actions as “all or nothing,” and feel that they failed simply because they had a setback, or didn’t follow their plan perfectly. Don’t be one of these people. If you have a setback, decide upon a time in the very near future to resume you plan, then just start again.
Monitor your progress The only way to know how well you are doing, is to keep track of your progress and see how far you have come. In addition to recording your food intake, it can be helpful to make a list of the improvements you have actually made along the way. If you have been thinking that there’s been no progress at all, a list of all the little things you have already done is a great way to evaluate your progress and keep yourself motivated.
People that have a well thought out strategy for making healthy eating and lifestyle changes are the ones who realize success. Lifestyle changes take time, but a systematic approach will help you maintain what you have changed. By following the tips outlined here, you can celebrate the benefits and success that come with a healthy eating plan.
© 2010, Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.
Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and author of “The Everything Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd ed.” Gretchen also offers The Balance Program® online in partnership with Real Living Nutrition Services®. Visit http://www.nutritionxpert.com/home/the-balance-program to learn more and while you’re there register for her monthly newsletter at http://www.nutritionxpert.com/home/newsletter.
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