Can’t Change Your Eating Habits? Your Mindset Could Be to Blame
November 08, 2017
Almost everyone who’s ever tried to improve their eating habits has made a commitment that goes something like this: “Starting tomorrow, I’m avoiding all junk food.”It’s the classic all-or-nothing mindset. And it usually leads to disappointment, when tomorrow rolls around and the promise to “avoid junk food” doesn’t work out as planned.In fact, one of the underlying reasons why people struggle with changing their eating and exercising habits is that their goal isn’t in sync with their mindset. But the good news is that acknowledging—and adjusting—your attitude can help you make changes that last. Here are three ways to shift your mindset and set yourself up for success.
Instead of the all-or-nothing approach, set flexible goals for yourself
A well-crafted goal fits the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines: it’s specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. But there’s still room for flexibility, even while keeping your goal specific and measurable.You can do this by defining a minimum and maximum target. Let’s say you want to cook at home more often and eat out less. Instead of going all in, commit to cooking at least two times a week and up to four times a week. Make the minimum target so doable you know you can achieve it, even if you have a busy schedule. Most importantly, be willing to give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve just the minimum.
Recognize moments when you feel overambitious
When it comes to eating well, this could mean feeling like you need to trek to an organic health food store and buy enough supplies to fill up your entire fridge. Being too ambitious can have a rebound effect, resulting in a stretch of time where you don’t put in any effort at all.In these situations, it’s important to remind yourself that small, gradual steps are the key to success. Instead of giving your fridge an elaborate makeover, think about an incremental change you can make. For instance, adding one new vegetable to your grocery list, like a seasonal one you’ve never cooked before. Or a wholesome snack you don’t usually buy, like hummus or almond butter. It might seem like small changes won’t make a difference on your eating habits, but you’ll be surprised at how much of an impact they’ll have when you repeat them consistently.
Don’t get too hung up on a single meal
Eating habits are all about the big picture. And life will always throw you a curveball, like social gatherings where you’ll have no control over the food being served. But instead of saying no to a dinner invitation because you’re worried the restaurant won’t have the right options, or getting stressed during the indulgent holiday season, remember that your eating habits are defined by the majority of your choices, not by a single meal. It may help to think about your eating habits in the context of percentages. It’s nearly impossible to eat a certain way 100% of the time. So maybe you focus on sticking to your eating plan 70% to 80% of the time and give yourself flexibility the rest of the time.For a new change to evolve into a long-term habit, it has to fit your lifestyle. Finding ways to marry the two will increase your odds of success, regardless of whether your goal is related to eating, exercising, or any other habit.
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