How to Make Your Diet Changes Stick!
Want to know to know how to change your diet once and for all? The past decade has delivered a flood of new science showing us the way. Here are the crucial guideposts:
- Begin first with full acceptance of where you are now – it is profoundly liberating.
- Seek the inspiration and motivation to change from the things that give your life meaning – your “purpose” and “core values”. We see that these “intrinsic” values are far more motivating than “extrinsic” values like fitting into an old pair of jeans.
- Learn and focus on the “why” behind the specific diet changes you want to make. For example, do you really know why dark leafy greens are so remarkably good for you and what they can do in your body, or do you really know why refined carbs like white flour and sugar are so unhealthy and what they can do in your body. Knowing the “why” creates an emotional response, which is required for behavior change. Meaning, the part of the brain responsible for human action only responds to feelings/emotions.
- Approach changing the way you eat as a lifestyle –a really exciting journey. “Diets” rarely (less than 10%!) lead to long-term success. And we know from a rock solid core of science that the healthy eating journey will be filled with incredible rewards and yet hidden treasures all along the way. You will see as you progress that you never want it to end!
- Take the journey one step at a time and move to the beat of your own drum. Studies confirm that most people do best by focusing on 1-3 changes at a time. Implement the changes at a pace that is in harmony with your life’s context and circumstances. Slow and steady is just fine.
- Begin with changes that seem easiest and most doable and progress onward from there. This is critical for boosting your self-efficacy (belief that you can change), which is essential for success. Keep in mind that changes that elicit a positive emotional response are typically more effective than those inciting a negative emotional response. For ex. focusing first on eating more of the healthy foods you already enjoy will be more effective than restricting unhealthy foods you love. What fruits and veggies do you already love? Start by eating more of them!
- Make a concerted effort to be purely present and mindful when you are around food and eating. Through a host of intriguing mechanisms, your success will dramatically improve.
- Look forward to what I think are the two most amazing destinations along the way: transformation of your taste buds and achieving an unrestrained, positive relationship with your food. Gratefully, taste buds are highly malleable and the more you eat healthy foods the better they will taste. Likewise, the less often you eat unhealthy foods the less pleasing they will taste. This is well documented – you can actually begin to crave the taste of super-healthy foods and lose your desire for unhealthy foods. And because you will enjoy and derive true pleasure from eating the right foods, the self-defeating tug-of-war and food conflicts that likely plagued you will become a thing of the past. Once you hit this glorious point, you will know you are home free!
- If you are also embarking on additional lifestyle changes like moving more or sitting less, the same principles noted above apply!