I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time after having children and for a while, I tied all my feelings about myself into how I looked. When I started out back in 2017 on a journey of self-love and rediscovery my first step was looking myself in the mirror and facing the truth about my health. As I got deeper into my weight loss journey I discovered that what I was putting into my body for years was the reason I’d struggled for so long.
After years and a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits embarking on a journey was more about changing my lifestyle and healing from the inside out. In December after only 6 months of actively trying to lose weight in 2017, I learned about a condition that was affecting my life. I’d been diagnosed with IBS after months of suffering from pain and my doctor’s recommendations were to choose a healthier diet that consumed more vegetables and transitioning to a more plant-based diet.
I share my IBS Story here but when I was diagnosed I felt like I had answers and a solution but there was a journey ahead of me that I call my life marathon and it starts with changing unhealthy eating habits and taking charge of my life. In this blog post, I wanted to share with you 6 tips to change your unhealthy eating habits and get into making your own lifestyle changes.
6 Tips To Change Your Unhealthy Eating Habits
I recently spoke at a wellness event where I shared with a room full of women the importance of making lifestyle changes to improve your health by taking nutrition seriously. One of the statements I hear a lot when people aren’t sure about the changes they want to make with their unhealthy eating habits is that they don’t have the resources, they are worried they won’t be full or they just aren’t ready.
What I want readers to know is that the foundation for health is self-care and when we start there, the decision to make healthier choices will seem like a no brainer.
Understand your body and assess your needs
Health and well-being do not mean the same for everyone, we all have our own particular challenges such as diseases, chronic illnesses, handicaps or previous injuries to deal with so before taking on any major life changes you need to make sure you understand your body inside and out.
You should make sure to go to the doctor for testing to get cleared before making such drastic changes such as starting a vegan diet or taking on an intense new work out plan. One of the other things I did was to make sure I knew what I was getting into and what my goals were overall, here are some important questions to ask your self or your physician in the first stage of understanding your body and assessing your needs.
- Do you want to lose weight?
- Are you aiming to gain more muscle?
- Do you have a gluten allergy?
- Am I vitamin deficient?
- Am I physically able to start physical training?
Knowledge is power
We don’t know what we don’t know, arm yourself with the knowledge about the process you are going into before diving head first. If your first step is to understand your body and the needs then obviously the natural progression is to then arm yourself with the tools necessary to move forward.
Like many people I’ve tended to jump into projects or things in life without being fully aware of all, I should know about it. For example, you say you want to become a vegan and eat only a vegan diet but then you go out to the store and buy Mayo, not realizing that it’s made from eggs because you haven’t done the research.
Taking this step is important because when you arm yourself with a) knowing your needs and B) knowledge; you’re setting up for a wellness journey based solely on the work you are putting in for yourself.
Starting a new diet or lifestyle change is not a short-term goal and the reason pacing yourself is so that your changes become a whole life marathon v. a sprint. Take the time you need to transition and to find a sustainable system that works for you and your lifestyle. Whether you are planning to transition to a plant-based diet or to just eat healthier overall, pacing yourself is truly an important skill for many reasons.
A gradual staged transition will be most effective for some people while all at once might be beneficial for others. In my research, some of the methods that have worked for many people have been making small or subtle changes one meal at a time or scaling down on the amount of fatty or “bad” foods to start.
In the past when I have tried to change anything on the drop of a hat without pacing myself or proper planning I immediately failed. In the times you are pacing you are learning, you are taking in what’s happening to your body, understanding what works well and what doesn’t. Changing your unhealthy eating habits is a whole life marathon (I use racing analogies) because you want them to last forever.
If you are planning to lose 10 pounds for your wedding dress then you’re one goal is to lose weight for that one specific reason but if your goal is to make healthier choices and live well overall then pace yourself and strap in for the long haul.
Redirect your cravings
I have found that ignoring cravings don’t often work very well as we have a tendency to give in when we try hard to not to. There are two ways to challenge cravings for me; making healthier versions and indulging a little. Both of these help to challenge your cravings on a consistent basis. It’s natural to crave what you’re accustomed to so that’s why it’s important to PACE yourself and transition – so you build over time how to turn unhealthy cravings into healthier versions.
A healthier version of almost any food is out there, so arm yourself with those recipes and swap them out when you’re ready to treat yourself to your cravings. Just because you’re on a journey of eating well doesn’t mean you should consistently deny yourself of cravings, we should occasionally allow ourselves a moment to indulge. However, when you give in for the small moments its important to remember why you started and don’t let a “moment” derail you from your goals.
Plan Ahead (3 Ways to Prep)
Planning is LIFE! We’ve all heard about meal prepping and the importance of it for so many busy women and there’s no shocker here planning ahead is important.
If meal prep is your thing…
- You can start by planning your dinner in one day for the week such as cooking a whole chicken, fish or tofu and dividing that up for the week with various kinds of starches and vegetables.
When I first got started with counting calories and meal prep I would make a large pack of chicken breast and make one grilled and the other oven fried and it would last me at least 5-6 meals between salads, chicken tacos, and sandwiches. Now that I’m plant-based, I like to roast sweet potatoes and various veggies and split that through a few days. And another favorite is making lots of stews and soups, they last a while!
Another form of planning, meal planning…
- If meal prepping isn’t your thing you can still plan ahead by buying your healthy fruits and snacks in advance or writing out what healthy meals you’ll cook for the week and shopping for the stuff in advance, this will leave less room for choosing to eat out instead of at home.
Planning to go out…
- When going out you also want to plan ahead so make sure you know good spots that offer healthy options
- If you know you’re going to be in a place with very limited options – eat at home first this way when you do go out you’ll eat less and if you choose to indulge you’ll already be full with a less likely hood to overeat.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions
- Put your dressing/ sauces on the side
- Eat appetizers
- Eat from the children’s menu if your monitoring portion control
Surround yourself with friends and family or an online community that will support you on your journey. When we surround ourselves with the support we need we have someone to lean on, on the days we need it the most.