6 Hacks to Help You Stay On Track with Your Nutrition Goals

basket.JPG

By Stacy McClain, NASM-CPT

How many times have you promised yourself you were going to eat healthy? Changing your diet is hard. We start off strong, positive, and with the best intentions, only to return to our old habits a few weeks later. But this time could be different. Try these tips to help you stick to your nutrition goals once and for all.

Make small changes.

Like all good things in life, building a healthy lifestyle takes time. Too many changes to your diet at once can overwhelm you, and the chances that you revert back to your old ways in just a few days or weeks is high. Instead, try reducing or cutting out 1 or 2 unhealthy food/drinks each month. This month it’s cutting out soda…next month you find a healthier substitute for your dessert…and so on. Time will help solidify these good habits into your routine, making it more likely that you will maintain the change long term. A year from now, all your small changes will add up to an entirely new set of eating habits.

Get specific.

You want to eat healthier, but what does that mean to you? Does that mean less sugar? Try getting even more specific. How about no more donuts during the week. Or maybe it’s eat more vegetables. Great! How much more? Veggies with every meal…2 cups per day? Break down that vague goal of eating healthier into actionable steps you can take to make that happen.

Make it easy.

We are wired to take the path of least resistance. When we are tired, stressed, and in a time crunch, we’re more likely to revert to what we know best or whatever is right in front of us. Make sure, what you have in front of you is a healthy option. That means stocking your fridge, cupboards, purse, etc with healthy snack and meal options. Make it easy to make the healthy decision.

Meal prep.

Speaking of making it easy…meal prep is key. Take your Sunday to grocery shop and stock up on healthy foods for the week. Cut up veggies so they are easy to snack on. Portion out ziplock bags of nuts that you can grab on the go. It’s also extremely helpful to cook a few meals at the beginning of the week. Divide them up into Tupperware containers and freeze. This will also add more time to your nights after work. Come home, pop your frozen meal in the microwave, that’s it…a tasty, healthy, homemade meal in 5 minutes.     

Keep a log.

Recording your food intake can surprise you. You don’t have to do it for very long, a couple days or a week will do. The goal is to increase awareness and mindfulness in your eating. Logging can provide perspective. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we are actually snacking until we record it. Logging also allows us to see patterns. Is there a certain time of night that you’re snacking? Are you bored at night, stressed from work, at an event, having a bad day? Noticing our behavior can help to change it.

Live a Little.

Satisfy your cravings. Live your life. Then get back on track. Healthy diets and lifestyles are not all or nothing. One unhealthy meal doesn’t derail you from your path to healthy eating. If you have a lasting craving, sometimes the best thing is to just have the thing rather than try to fill the void with everything else. Highly restrictive diets rarely work for anyone. In order to create long term habits and real change, you must be flexible in your approach. Strive for a majority of your diet decisions to be healthy, and don’t beat yourself up for the slip ups along the way. You’re only human.

Unsure of where to start?

Work with LifeStart Registered Dietitians to assist you in creating long-term healthy eating habits!