By Sara Colman Carlson, Balanced Habits™ RDN, CDE
Embracing a healthy lifestyle matters
Embracing a healthy lifestyle matters for both short and long-term health and wellness. You know what’s included in a healthy lifestyle: healthy eating, exercise, stress reduction, no smoking, adequate sleep, and more but the real challenge is making the changes stick. Let’s focus on lifestyle nutrition changes, but these points also apply to other lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle nutrition is a lifelong focus
Lifestyle nutrition is a lifelong focus on planning, eating and enjoying nutritious foods that have a positive impact on your health. Benefits include delay or prevention of chronic diseases, weight management, and a balanced relationship with food habits. Once embraced, lifestyle nutrition becomes part of your everyday eating behaviors and in turn is no longer a “diet” in the sense of going on and off a particular eating plan.
Most people can and do tackle going on a diet. It may be not easy, but with planning, tools and motivation, a diet can help with weight loss, lowering cholesterol or glucose, managing food intolerances and allergies, and more. Seeing results will increase motivation and help with sticking to a diet plan.
The problem with going on a diet
The problem with going on a diet is that at some point you go off the diet and that’s when the trouble begins. It usually means weight may be regained, blood values change and other positive results can vanish. So how do you make a difference?
Here are some pointers than may help with making new eating habits into lasting lifestyle nutrition changes
1. Choose health. First, last and always. We’re faced with choices every day. Until healthy food choices are ingrained, give extra focus to the choices you make toward healthy food choices.
2. Replace quick fix thinking with long-term solutions because when you do… you embrace lasting change and stop the going on and off diet cycle. Remember the focus on building a lifestyle of balanced and healthy habits.
3. Evaluate the progress made so far. Did you… make healthier food choices? find a new recipe or snack you like? change eating times? Portions? lose weight? become more active? Looking at what you have accomplished can motivate you to stay focused.
4. Maybe there were some goals you did not meet over the past month. Rather than viewing those as failures, look at it as learning opportunities, a chance to learn more about yourself—what works, what motivates you, why some things did not work, and obstacles to overcome.
5. Write it down—on paper, sticky notes, in your phone notes, or wherever it’s convenient. One of the keys to long-term weight loss maintenance is to keep a record of what and when you eat.
6. Make realistic short and long term goals. If you want to lose 50 pounds this year, break it down to smaller amounts, like 5-8 pounds a month. Make a graph to track your progress. Develop those habits that help maintain your goals.
7. Plan ahead by creating menus, grocery lists, deciding on eating out spots, what you will order and best beverage and snack choices.
8. Reach out to friends and family for support, especially those who have the same goal to develop a healthy lifestyle.
What are your next steps toward attaining lifestyle nutrition?