Healthy lifestyle changes are easier than you think. Dont pressure yourself! Take a series of small baby steps.
Lisa Kilgour, RHN, loves teaching and helping people find their own health through their diet. She is a nutritionist at InspireHealth - Southern Interior. InspireHealth is a nonprofit integrative cancer care organization helping Canadians since 1997; it’s partially funded by the BC Ministry of Health. inspirehealth.ca
January tends to be a time of resolutions and a time when many of us consider making changes. We can start the year with the best of intentions but frequently we fall back into old habits after a month or two. Just wander into your local gym during the first week of January to see the power of New Year’s resolutions!
I have come to realize that I wasn’t blessed with a lot of willpower. I’ve never been able to overhaul my diet or any other lifestyle habit in a short period of time. Instead of seeing this as a curse, I learned to see this as a benefit. My solution: I look at any change as a series of small, fairly easy baby steps which don’t use up any of my precious willpower. While this may mean my dietary and lifestyle changes take some time to accomplish, those changes tend to stick. I simply can’t “fall off the wagon” because I can’t even get on it in the first place.
And the best news—small changes really do work for most people! I’ve changed my diet from one full of processed sugar and flour to a diet full of whole foods, without any of the struggles that happen with faster changes.
Here are three tricks I use to continually improve my diet:
Try something new
For the months of January and February, I buy one new fruit or vegetable each week. By March, there are usually two new favourites that make it into my shopping cart. Over time, this creates a lot of variety.
Just add one more
Eating eight to 10 servings of veggies and fruits each day can seem like a daunting task that’s hard to start. Instead, just add one more. Once that feels easy, add another one. Before you know it, you’ll be happily munching away at eight servings every day without even realizing it.
Replace one favourite sweet
Refined sugar used to be a vice of mine, and I ate a lot of it. I couldn’t give up all of my favourite sweets at once, so I gave up one at a time. I switched a store-bought muffin for a homemade one sweetened with honey. I switched my favourite sugary cereal (Froot Loops … I was a serious sugar junkie) for a less sweetened granola and felt so much better all day. Just choose one at a time and before you know it your diet will be refined sugar-free.
Don’t let dietary changes be stressful. Small changes really add up over time! Just find one change you’re 100 percent confident you can master and do it. Once that change has become a secure habit, try another one. Even the monumental feat of eliminating refined sugar from my diet became easy once I started to chip away at it.