When it comes to dietary changes or a medical weight loss plan, you’ve probably heard that making permanent changes to your habits is preferable to short term “diets”. Changing your relationship with food, and your approach to eating, is the best way to keep lost pounds off for good.
But it can feel difficult to initially commit to a long-term change. How do you get over that hump, and get to the point that short-term changes become your permanent habits?
Practice mindfulness. At first, it can be helpful to utilize a food journal. Each time you sit down to eat, record your feelings along with your meal plan. Over time you may notice patterns, such as feeling more tempted to indulge in sweets when you’re stressed or craving fatty foods when you’re lonely. In the future you will be able to identify those feelings much more readily and devise (non-food-related) strategies to address them.
Set long term goals. If you decide to lose fifteen pounds before your high school reunion, it’s likely that you will reach your goal. But then what? Once the goal is reached many people go right back to their old habits.
Instead, set long term goals like, “I want to live to meet my great grandchildren” or “I want to avoid diabetes and heart disease”. You might simply wish to enjoy your future retirement more, be able to travel, or stay active into your eighties. These things are all possible!
Add new habits one at a time. It can be difficult to change all of your habits at once. So begin by drinking a certain amount of water per day. Commit to eating one new vegetable each week. Switch each afternoon snack for a piece of fruit. Prep your snacks each Sunday, so that healthier fare is always on hand.
These are just examples, but the point is to add a new healthy habit each time the last one becomes automatic for you.
Focus on the positive, not the negative. It’s easier to commit to a positive goal, than a negative one that feels like a punishment. For example, you don’t want to promise yourself that you’ll give up ice cream forever (that’s not realistic anyway). Select goals that involve eating more nutritious foods, processing emotions in ways that don’t involve food, or identifying non-food rewards for accomplishments.
These are just some ideas to get you started. If you need more help developing healthier habits, particularly with regard to a medical weight loss plan, give us a call. We’ll schedule an appointment and help you get started on a path toward permanent change.