While there is a lot about nutrition that is “knowledge”- i.e., the knowledge to eat one food over another due to it’s health benefits, I believe that 90% of healthy eating and nutrition is behavior, goal setting, and self control. You can 100% know for sure that an apple is better for you than a cookie… but how many of you will pick up the apple rather than the cookie? Making changes is a lifelong process in which you have to continually coach yourself.
Most of what we do is based on habits. It’s interesting to study the human brain and realize that what we do is habits which are chemical pathways in the brain that we automatically go do when performing a certain set of activities. When you drive somewhere familiar, like to work or a friend’s house, your car kind of “takes you” there. That’s because you’re used to the route, the scenery, the turns, etc., and thus you go there out of habit. Sometimes it’s difficult to go somewhere else if you’re going on a route that’s similar to one you take often! This is the same with nutrition. Having trouble NOT stopping at McDonald’s on the way home? That’s because it’s a habit! If you’re used to doing it, it’s so hard not to! Keep yourself motivated by keeping a check list and reward for every day you don’t do it in order to break the habit. It takes about 21 days to break a habit – once you get past that, it gets much easier!
Goal setting is SO important when it comes to nutrition, or really anything! I could go into what makes a good goal and what makes a bad goal, but that may take a while. Try to keep your goals realistic though. So many people start out by saying they are going to change every aspect of their diet tomorrow. If you try to change everything all at once, it will be really difficult, especially considering all the habits you will have to force yourself out of all at once! Start with one thing at a time. For example, you could start with your beverages – switch to water only. Give that 21 days – make it a habit! Then tackle something else. Don’t try to change every snack, breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and beverage all at once! It will be so overwhelming and you’ll be back to your old ways in a few days.
You can set a million goals and try to break a million habits, but if you aren’t able to control yourself, it is all for naught! Self control is something you have to practice. Start with something simple. Say no once per day to something you otherwise would want. Let it empower you! Tell that candy it has no power over you! You don’t need it. Then throw it away. Don’t expect too much from yourself! Even I have a very difficult time resisting temptation multiple times per day. Once I decide that I will not eat something again, I get rid of it so it doesn’t tempt me. I have been known to throw away entire cakes after birthday parties! It is such a shame to waste, but I’d rather keep my waist.
In the end, it’s the little simple things you do every day that affect your nutrition and your weight! What little things do you do daily to keep yourself in check?