Have you ever set out with the goal of actually sticking to a new healthy regime only to find yourself not doing it at all less than one week later? Despite knowing the potential to have more energy, lose weight and reduce your risk of disease, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be difficult. There are countless tips out there how best to live healthy but let’s be serious, there’s only a handful of ideas that you’ll realistically be able to implement and commit to long enough to see the results you want. Here are 11 proven yet simple ways to stick to a healthy diet and soon enough, they’ll become second nature helping you become the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.
1. START WITH REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Eating a nutritious diet has so many benefits and having realistic expectations increases your chances of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Numerous studies suggest the higher the expectations set, the higher risk of stopping any plan within the first 12 months. Additionally, if you put pressure on yourself to lose weight too quickly, your overall health will suffer.
An American Psychologist called Dr. Edwin Locke created The Goal-Setting Theory called S.M.A.R.T. in order to help us set better goals. A motivating goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. By creating a goal that meets the SMART criteria, you significantly increase the success rate of achieving that goal may even lead to superior results.
2. THINK ABOUT WHAT REALLY MOTIVATES YOU
Remembering exactly why you’re making healthy choices will help you stay on course with any goals. It really is helpful to make a list of specific reasons why you want to get healthier.
When you’re tempted to indulge in anything unhealthy, remembering what motivates you can help you stay on track so perhaps keep any list on your phone.
3. KEEP JUNK FOOD OUT OF THE HOUSE
Keeping unhealthy foods out of sight will increase your chances of staying on track. If you’re surrounded by junk food, it’s going to be really difficult to eat healthily when the temptation is there.
Having unhealthy foods readily available on display leads to increased consumption. In fact, numerous studies suggest the close proximity of food on display has a clear link to obesity. If friends or family insist on keeping unhealthy foods around, try to keep them hidden rather than on display.
4. BREAK OUT OF BLACK AND WHITE THINKING
Judging yourself on a daily basis as to whether you’ve eaten good or bad will not prevent making poor choices, it will only increase it's probability. Such black and white thinking is often seen at parties where a few unhealthy deep fried canapés often lead to thinking any plan has gone wrong and then you proceed to overindulge in unhealthy foods. Instead, try putting the past behind you. Choosing healthy unprocessed foods that contain protein for the remainder of the party which will help you feel full and satisfied.
A few poor choices will make very little difference in the long-term, as long as you balance them over a sustained period of time.
5. CARRY ON-THE-GO HEALTHY SNACKS
Taking healthy snacks rich in protein when travelling is a proven way to avoid picking up any unhealthy snacks on route when you’re unable to eat a meal for several hours. When hunger becomes too great, grabbing whatever is available is often the solution. Unfortunately, this is often processed food and never completely satisfies hunger. Having healthy high-protein snacks on hand can help keep your appetite in check until you’re able to have a full meal. Examples of portable protein rich snacks are almonds and hard-boiled eggs.
6. HAVE A GAME PLAN BEFORE EATING OUT
Having a plan before eating out can help you make healthier food choices. It’s a real challenge to maintain a healthy diet if you don’t know what you’re planning to eat. Ahead of getting to a restaurant, have a look at the menu online to avoid being overwhelmed once you get there.
It is proven that you are more likely to make unhealthy choices when hungry or distracted and the sight of food can have the power to influence more so when you have not yet made any decision.
7. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Adopting a mindful eating approach can help you achieve a better relationship with food helping you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Enjoy your food by taking the time to appreciate its ability to nourish you. This thinking increases your chances of making successful changes. One recent study suggests that lasting changes can be seen from as little as 6 weeks in overweight people who practice mindful eating.
8. GET A PARTNER TO JOIN YOU
Having a friend or partner join you in making healthy lifestyle changes will definitely increase your chances of sustained success. It’s really tough to stick any sort of new regime on your own.
A recent study that included 3,000 couples found that when one person made a positive lifestyle change, the other was more likely to follow their lead.
9. START THE DAY WITH A PROTEIN RICH BREAKFAST
Eating a protein rich breakfast helps you stay full and can prevent overeating later in the day. If the first meal of the day is well balanced and contains adequate protein, you’re more likely to maintain stable blood sugar levels, which will prevent any unnecessary snacking.
In one recent study, overweight women who consumed at least 30 grams of protein at breakfast felt more satisfied and ate fewer calories at lunch than women who ate a lower-protein breakfast.
10. REALISE IT TAKES TIME TO CHANGE BAD HABITS
It takes 66 days to make a new habit, on average. Don’t be discouraged if it takes longer than you expect to adapt, just do your best to stay motivated and focused while adapting to a new healthy diet and regime. Eventually, eating healthfully and exercising regularly will become second nature.
11. FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU
There is no perfect way of eating that works for everyone. It’s so important that you find a way of eating and exercising that you enjoy. Once you’ve found your happy place, you will find it sustainable. Remember, the best new healthy diet for you is the one you can stick to in the long run.
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