Breaking habits can be even harder than starting new habits -- wouldn't you agree? Especially when those habits are related to your health. If you tend to gravitate toward unhealthy junk foods, it can be a considerable struggle to change your eating habits to incorporate healthier items.
There are a few reasons why this is so difficult to do, and even better, there are several tricks you can implement to get over that hump.
Today we're speaking specifically to breaking the junk food habit and beginning to eat more whole foods...
Go gradually with your cutbacks
Junk food is loaded with sugar, and your body gets hooked on it. Start by cutting down on these junk foods that are currently in your diet. You’ll get less of a high from them, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your healthy eating goals. Start by taking the sugar out of your coffee, or by switching out your snacks each day with a healthy snack. Whatever small step you choose, stick with it until you're comfortable with your new healthy habit -- then move on to your next healthy habit. It works like a charm!
Don't buy foods with more than five ingredients
In the supermarket, you should mainly roam the fresh aisles where the produce and unprocessed foods are. However, there are still staples you’ll need from the inner aisles. Read those labels when you find items in those inner aisles, and try to find the healthiest option possible of what you're shopping for -- the fewer ingredients and the more you can pronounce those ingredients, the better.
Add more colors and textures to your plate
A salad is impossible to eat if you just throw soggy lettuce in a bowl. Instead, make it a rainbow of colors and a playground of textures. Add tomatoes, colorful peppers, crunchy nuts, and even a bit of plant-based or goat cheese to please your palate.
Break your bad habit cycles
If you always ventured to the vending machine at work in the mid-afternoon, break the association with that by starting a healthier habit. Take a walk that keeps you away from that vending machine, for example. It will only take a few weeks to replace that old bad habit with a good one, and you'll be feeling so good about your swapped habit that you'll be ready to tackle your next habit swap.
Make healthy foods more accessible
You’re more likely to eat right when you’ve got a healthy snack ready to go. Bag up portions of mixed nuts, make your own trail mix, and keep cut up veggies with hummus around and you’ll always have a healthy go-to snack.
Don’t keep junk in the house
To make the switch complete, keeping those junky items out of your house is best. That way if you get a craving at midnight, you won’t be willing to run out and get it. You’ll train yourself to save sweets and treats for special occasions instead of for late night snacks.
Allow yourself to be disgusted
A great way to make the change to eating less processed foods is to really learn what’s in them. Go ahead, pull those packaged foods out and research the labels. Look up all the ingredients you can’t pronounce. They sound much less delicious now, don’t they?
Be patient and kind with yourself, too. Your inner voice needs your nurturing to make this change for the better.
I'm certainly no stranger to the occasional urge to rip open a chocolate bar, go through the drive-thru window, or dive into a bag of my favorite chips -- and I'll bet you aren't a stranger to this either. The occasional indulgence isn't anything to be alarmed about, but if you find yourself licking the remnants of these indulgences off your fingers on a more regular basis, you’ll need to practice some control to get in charge of those cravings. The goal here is to be in charge of your cravings, not have them be in charge of you.
Here’s how to handle these cravings and get back in the saddle for your healthy routine.
Get to the root of your cravings
Take note of when you’re going for these foods. Is it boredom? Did you have a horrible day at work? Is it that time of the month? All of these things can be a trigger for your cravings. Try to be mindful of them once you identify them. Next time the craving comes around, stop and evaluate your surroundings, noticing what may be triggering this craving. Restrain yourself 80% of the time and enjoy the things you crave 20% of the time. Eating healthy the majority of the time will lower your cravings drastically, anyway.
Try to eat regularly
It may sound counterintuitive, but if you eat regularly, meaning don't skip meals, you’ll keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel. Pack a healthy snack to enjoy when you find it difficult to make it to lunch or dinner in time. By doing so, you’ll feel satisfied and will be less likely to head to the office vending machine or a quick stop at the drive-thru.
Slow down when eating
Mindful eating is the best way to keep from overeating, whether you’re eating a nutritious meal or splurging. Your brain doesn’t get the message that your stomach is full for about 20 minutes. Therefore, slowly chew your food. Savor the flavors. You will notice that the desire to eat your entire portion is diminished, and so will your appetite for dessert.
Do something else
Cravings never last forever. Eventually, you’ll forget about your craving if you distract yourself. Go for a walk, read a book, message your friends, put up the laundry or involve yourself with anything else that you can think of. Before you know it, you’ll have forgotten about that nagging craving.
If you really can’t help munching while you are watching a movie, swap out unhealthy options for healthier ones. Choose crispy carrot and celery sticks with hummus or a small serving of mixed nuts. Want something cool, sweet and refreshing? Freeze melon balls to get an ice cream-like experience without the guilt.
Keep your food cravings out of the house
You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind,” right? It’s so true when it comes to food cravings. As much as possible, keep these things out of your home. If you get late-night cravings, you won’t have those things around to binge on, and you’ll be less likely to go out of your way to get them.
Cravings will come and go, but when you're armed with solutions to combat them, you're putting yourself in the position to control the cravings, rather than being controlled by them.
So, let's get honest here. My biggest craving I get is chocolate covered anything. I notice it happens when when I'm hungry, tired and late at night.
What craving nags you the most?
And if sugar is a craving that you want to combat, Join the challenge today!
Winter can cause a yearning in your soul to warm up by a cozy fire and finally slow down. I love that nature works like this, innately causing us to change with the seasons, have you ever noticed? The winter brings the desire for warmer foods, connection with loved ones, and more rest and relaxation. The critical part of this fascinating natural phenomenon is that we listen and oblige.
There are a few ways that I mindfully go into the Winter season and I'm going to share with you my top ways to help you keep a Winter wellness routine, as well. These work for me each year, and I hope you'll gain some ideas you can use, too!
My favorite Winter Wellness tips...
1. Don’t burn the candle at both ends
If your social calendar looks anything like mine, it's jam-packed this season. We just made it through all the Holiday parties, and now it's time to catch up with those we didn't have time to see last month, and of course, celebrate the New Year. However, don’t feel obligated to attend every gathering you get invited to, particularly if you’re feeling burnt out from work and your other obligations. It’s great to meet new people and socialize, but if it causes you to get less sleep or it stresses you out, decline some of the less essential offers.
2. Be mindful of social settings
For the events you do attend, remember that cold and flu germs often lurk without symptoms at first. There’s no need to be paranoid about shaking hands or meeting people, but be mindful of your hands before you eat and don’t touch your nose, mouth or eyes after shaking hands with someone. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best way to avoid a winter illness.
3. Keep working out
Your best battle against the winter blues is to keep to your workout routine. Finding it hard to stay motivated during the colder months? Switch things up. Try a new class at your gym or take on a new challenge that will help keep you motivated.
4. Hydrate more
Getting enough fluids is essential on any day, but in the winter the weather is drier and so is the heat indoors. Not only that, but your skin can become parched too. Drinking more water and applying more moisturizer is a must.
So, what's the norm for you? Do you try to stay on track during the winter months, or do you put things off until it starts to warm up outside? I tend to stay indoors much more. I'm fortunate that I get to work from home so going out everyday is not essential. I try not to let the weather dictate my actions thought, because that's a recipe for depression, mood swings and slipping into bad habits, like unhealthy snacking. Otherwise, I stay on track making sure that I stay hydrated, well-rested, eating healthy - I find that I cook more during the winter months too.
Be kind to yourself during the winter months and the rest of the year too!
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