Breaking habits can be even harder than starting new habits -- wouldn't you agree? Especially when those habits are related to your health. If you gravitate toward unhealthy junk foods, it can be a struggle to change your eating habits to incorporate healthier choices. Try these tips for switching from junk to healthier foods:
Go gradually with your cutbacks. Junk food is loaded with sugar, and your body gets hooked on it. Start by cutting back on junky foods. You’ll get less of a high from them, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your healthy eating goals. Start by taking the sugar out of your coffee, or by switching out your snacks each day with a healthy snack. Fruit is a sweet option. Whatever small step you choose, stick with it until you're comfortable with your new healthy habit -- then move on to your next healthy habit. It works like a charm!
Focus on foods with five ingredients or less. At the grocery store, shop the perimeter aisles where the produce and unprocessed foods are. When reaching for the stapes on the inner aisles, read the labels and choose items with the fewest recognizable and pronounceable ingredients.
Add colors and textures to your plate. A salad is impossible to eat if you just toss soggy lettuce in a bowl. Instead, make it a rainbow of colors and a playground of textures. Add tomatoes, colorful peppers, crunchy nuts, and even a bit of cheese or chicken to please your palate.
Break your bad habit cycles. If you always make a trip to the vending machine at work in the mid-afternoon, break the association of that trip by starting a healthier habit. Choose a new route that keeps you away from that vending machine, for example. It will only take a few weeks to replace that old bad habit with a better one, and you'll be feeling so good about your new habit that you'll be ready to tackle your next habit swap.
Make healthy foods more accessible. You’re more likely to eat right when you’ve got a healthy snack ready to go. Bag up portions of mixed nuts, make your own trail mix, and keep cut up veggies with hummus around and you’ll always have a healthy go-to snack.
Don’t keep junk in the house. To make the switch complete, keep those junky items out of your house, car and work environments. That way if you get a craving at midnight, you will have to make a bigger effort to go out and get something. This way you’ll train yourself to save sweets and treats for special occasions instead of for late afternoon or nighttime snacking.
Allow yourself to be disgusted. A great way to make the change to eating less processed foods is to really learn what’s in them. Go ahead, pull those packaged foods out and research the labels. Look up all the ingredients you can’t pronounce. They sound much less delicious now, don’t they?
Remember, your inner voice needs your positive, nurturing attitude to make this change for the better so be patient and kind to yourself. Need accountability for the new year? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Wolfsen is a Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach who specializes in helping people make their own healthy changes by providing private health and lifestyle coaching, nutrition education and wellness classes with guidance and gentle support for lasting weight loss and building healthier habits. Learn more online at www.sarawolfsen.com.