How to maintain (sustain, keep) healthy eating habits long term
You started the year with good intentions to eat healthier, but keeping healthy eating habits going long term is not always as easy it seems, especially when a few curve balls such as Covid-19 have been thrown in!
For some of us this change has allowed time for more cooking at home and establishing healthy eating and exercise routines. The secret lies in how we keep healthy eating habits going. First step is to remind yourself that you and your health are a priority. They deserve making time for and putting effort into. You are more likely to feel energised and with good health to do more of the things you love. The second is to take small steps, you are more likely to create long term habits this way.
Food is a powerful, important and of course essential part of our lives. It can be used as a tool for coping and be associated with all sorts of emotions, mad, sad, excited, happy, trapped, hungry, hangry, guilty, deprived and the list goes on. Emotional eating can sometimes derail us, taking us off the nourishing eating track we planned to stay on. How can we can take control of this and harness the goodness of food to nourish and flourish?
Find freedom in eating and make friends with food. Skip the rules that cause restrictions and the battles that result against cravings and hunger.
Start focusing on what you can eat. What’s already awesome about your eating habits? There are probably many things (do you eat some fruit each day, cook vegetables in the evening), you just need to trust yourself to build on them.
Connect with your body. Ask yourself what foods will fuel me, make feel energised and strong? Let go of the weight focus, if focused on weight loss and you might find this looks after itself when you start listening to your body and removing the pressure.
We eat for so many reasons, but this doesn’t identify you. Our identity is not based around what sort of eater we are or what diet we are on. There is no need to label your eating habits, it only restricts you. How about you eat food you:
- feel like
- fits your culture, the social situation, your family
- will nourish you
- based on your appetite
No one is suggesting you down a burger and chips each day just because you feel like it and that it will be good for your health. It is still recommended you base your food intake around wholefoods: the basics of fruit, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes, seeds, wholegrains and dairy. It is suggesting though you can enjoy all foods sometimes, you haven’t failed and guilt associated with food choices will not help. In fact, leaving the guilt behind is the more likely road to making positive changes stay around for the long haul.
With a little planning we can make the healthy choices the easy choices. That way we are much more likely to make the choices we want to and develop these into sustainable habits.
- Surround yourself with nourishing foods:
- Shop so plenty of fresh produce, such as fruit, vegetables, dairy and seafood are at home
– Make a shopping list
– Have favourite places to buy from e.g. local shop, market
– Set a time in the diary to shop
- Prepare food ahead of time
– Cut up fruit in the morning for the day
– Prepare extra vegetables when making dinner, for lunch and snacks the next day e.g. wash cherry tomatoes and lettuce, cut capsicum, cucumber & carrots, roast extra vegetables for salads and sandwiches.
– Make a smoothie for mid afternoon in the morning (Fruit, Filmjolk,
– Have some ready made options available, particularly for after exercise ( e.g. Rokeby Farms Breakfast Smoothies, Rokeby Farms Probiotic Blueberry Filmjolk, fresh nuts, pre-prepared soups, frozen vegetables)
- Get the household involved- spread the shopping, cooking and washing up load
- Choose tasty recipes- with flavour, that are fun & easy to prepare
– Making home made gnocchi, pizza dough might be fun to do with the kids
– Batches of soup that you can make with friends or swap
Healthy eating habits can stay with us long term, be realistic with expectations, quit obsessing about food and start loving it. Small changes can become big if maintained! With some planning and eating awareness you can be one step ahead of yourself!