Like any lifestyle change, finding and maintaining the motivation to eat healthy is easier to accomplish with the right mindset. This can often prove to be a challenge for many of us because a massive lifestyle change can seem daunting when you’re just getting started.
Today, I’m sharing some strategies that will make you more likely to set yourself up for success on your healthy eating adventure. Let’s have a look at the ultimate mindset roadmap that will help you change your eating habits for the better, one step at a time!
WILLPOWER OR MOTIVATION?
Let’s start with a quick clarification. Willpower and motivation have very different implications and while both are required when improving your eating habits, motivation is a much more powerful tool.
Willpower implies being able to restrain your behaviour and impulses by controlling your thoughts. Motivation, on the other hand, refers to the reasons that drive your desire to change your current habits by taking concrete steps to achieve your goals.
Willpower alone isn’t enough to accomplish your aspirations. Think about it: have you ever heard of people relying solely on willpower to perform well at work? Of course not. Their performance is linked to the amount of work they do and to the strategies they use on a daily basis.
In the same way, making a plan, putting in the work and staying organized are crucial factors when you want to clean up your diet.
Let’s start from the beginning. Here is your very own roadmap with simple steps to boost your motivation to eat healthy.
1 – GET CRYSTAL CLEAR ON YOUR “WHY”
A really effective way to find the motivation to change your eating habits is to find the deeper reasons that will really drive you to put in the work necessary. Take a moment and think about why do you want to do this.
Think of the reasons that drive you and try picturing what your life will look like when you accomplish your goals. For example, perhaps you are constantly feeling drained and you want to increase your energy levels by eating healthy so you can better enjoy spending time with your family.
If you ever feel overwhelmed along the road, take a moment and remind yourself of your “why”. Doing so will help you spark your motivation some more and drive you to keep going.
2 – LIST WHAT YOU WANT TO CHANGE… AND WHAT YOU’RE A PRO AT!
Once you know the reasons that truly drive you, it’s time to get to work and set yourself up for success. Start by making a list of all the eating habits you would like to change AND a list of the habits you already master.
Taking the time to acknowledge your strengths can do wonders to boost your motivation to eat healthy and help you kick-start your new journey on a positive note. Most of my clients tend to focus solely on the habits they want to change and forget all about the great ones.
Making both lists will help you keep your perspective on the size of your project. Having a list of your good habits on hand is also helpful if you ever start feeling like you can’t accomplish your goals halfway through the process. It will remind you of what you are capable of and help spark your motivation once more.
3 – PICK ONE HEALTHY EATING HABIT TO FOCUS ON
Once your list of habits to work on is ready, pick a single one to focus on first. A common problem people encounter is they try to change too many habits at once, which leaves them feeling overwhelmed.
Picking a single habit to work on is a simple strategy you can use to set yourself up for success and make it easier to maintain your healthy lifestyle motivation throughout the process.
4 – IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS
Now that you’ve chosen the eating habit you want to work on first, you have to identify what triggers it in the first place. Doing so will help you become more proactive when building a healthy lifestyle by eliminating some of the triggers before they can sidetrack you.
Start by identifying what gets you to give in to your bad habit. Did your son leave an open bag of cookies and chips on the counter? Do you get the urge to eat every time you turn on the television? In some cases, the cue is more emotional. For example, many of my clients tend to reach for the treats when they are bored, upset or celebrating.
Most of these are external cues, which means they are not related to your hunger levels or the needs of your body for nutrition. Thankfully, you can implement some simple strategies that will help you keep temptation at bay.
For example, you can decide to eat only in designated eating areas like the kitchen table, or only eat without a distraction, or to store cookies and other treats in opaque containers so you can’t actually see the enticing picture on the packaging.
5 – EVALUATE YOUR PROGRESS
A few weeks after implementing your new routines, take the time to reflect their level of effectiveness. Make sure to be honest with yourself and list which strategies worked for you and which ones didn’t.
This step is all about giving yourself the time you need to make changes if necessary. Remember that if a strategy did not work well for you, it could simply be the wrong strategy and in no way reflects anything to do with you.
Make sure to give yourself the gift of forgiveness if the process did not go the way you hoped and to give yourself a pat on the back when things do go well!
6 – WASH, RINSE AND REPEAT!
Once you feel confident enough with the strategies you put in place to change your first habit and you notice enough progress, it’s time to take a look at your list and pick a second habit to work on.
Keep up the hard work and adjust your strategies as you go, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your healthy eating goals!
BONUS: COMMON TRAPS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
Let’s face it, it’s easier to change behaviours that are only about you and what you do. Seeing someone bring in doughnuts at work can definitely be a challenging experience when you are trying to stay motivated to eat healthy.
Remember that almost 50% of the population is thinking the same way you are and are trying to improve their lifestyle. Chances are that if you ask if anyone would like something other than doughnuts, at least another person will. Finding people in your circle that share the same goals is a powerful way to stay motivated and support each other.
If you haven’t found someone to share the experience with yet, try focusing on yourself. If someone brings treats at the office, you could try keeping them in a separate room where you can’t see or smell them.
EATING BORING FOOD
For some reason, when people think of adopting healthy eating habits, they picture someone grazing on lettuce and kale all day long. Here’s the thing: all the planning, motivation and hard work in the world is useless if you don’t enjoy the food you are eating.
Trust me, healthy meals can be just as exciting as the dishes you are currently used to enjoying. It’s all about choosing recipes that work for you. Take some time to browse the Internet and find some interesting healthy dishes that you want to try for some inspiration.
TAKING SETBACKS AS FAILURE
Whether we like it or not, setbacks and slip-ups are bound to happen when we try to break a habit that we’ve had for years. When this happens, most people feel disappointed in themselves and are tempted to give up.
While feeling this way is normal, it’s important to keep in mind that a single setback does not erase all the progress you’ve made. When this happens, take the time to acknowledge what triggered it, make a mental note and get back on track.
Be kind to yourself and remember that building a healthy lifestyle is all about making progress, not about being perfect.