6 Ways To Create Healthy Habits, Not Restrictions
Although a large part of the human diet is structured, there will always be a need for change. Boredom tends to sneak its way into our dietary routine leading us to crave something different. Despite structure being so important for many, it’s not immune to caving in. You can stick to a set of healthy habits, such as a strict diet or an insane exercise routine for weeks or maybe even a few months, but eventually a thirst for variety will come rushing in.
Too much structure is not sustainable, and will nudge you to add something novel to the mix. If you keep suppressing particular foods this over-suppression may increase the risk of feeling unfulfilled and lead to over-indulgence. That’s why so many need a ‘cheat day’ or an ‘eat whatever you want’ day when they are dieting. The tighter the diet, the more likely you will say I can’t wait for the cheat or free eating day. Just as in life, when there’s too much structure and rigidity, you will naturally crave variety and spontaneity. Instead of denying this need for change, you will see how you can structure the need to mix things up, into your personalized dietary system. You must recognize that you are omnivorous by nature for at least for a few thousands of years, that you have set preferences and that part of your diet calls for you to spice it up.
We don’t ask you to change either what you eat, nor your primary food preferences. This applies not only to macronutrients but to virtually anything you consume. You might be heavy into superfoods, supplements, must eat organic or be the kind of person who is generally not fussy. Instead of changing your preferences and giving you a rigid format to stick with, the idea is to help you become more in tune with yourself.
By doing so you awaken your adaptable omnivorous nature, appreciate your fixed preferences and cravings and welcome variety with open arms. Your craving will likely vary from day-to-day, from year-to-year and from environment-to-environment, as they do, you will have a methodology that will allow you to evolve with them and with the times. So to think that restrictions are the only way, is a huge oversight, I firmly believe that the healthiest habit out there is one that sprinkles adventure and variety into a set structure.
6 Ways To Create Healthy Habits, Not Restrictions
It takes about a month to change your habits, so first and foremost be patient with yourself. Instead of focusing on breaking your lackluster habits right now, try out a couple of these techniques that allow for a more gradual shift. It might just happen that you lose your bad habits without even trying.
1. Recognize that true health starts from within.
How many times have you gone on a crash diet, cleanse, or gave up alcohol, chocolate, sugar (even fruit GASP), or did something crazy like ate all meat and fat because you were told it was going to help you lose a little bit of weight quick? Did it? And if it did, did it stay off? If you want to fit into your skinny jeans long-term, you need to start respecting that your physique is a reflection of your internal health and your DAILY habits. It’s not until you truly respect health from within (and correct your patterns and diet to reflect this), that your outsides will naturally shift into place.
2. Let go of perfection & be compassionate to Self.
Dismiss the idea that you have to do everything right 100% of the time…. even 90% of the time. Simply do your best to be your best self. You know what makes you feel good and you know what doesn’t. Choose that which make you feel good. In the event you slip up, forgive yourself. It doesn’t help one bit to beat yourself up or hold onto guilt for your less than optimal choices. Depreciating and criticizing oneself in this way only contributes to stress and leads you deeper into a downward spiral. Rather, dust yourself off and put it behind you. If it was a food choice that left you less than proud, acknowledge that you make over 200 food choices in a day, and make your next one your best.
3. Crowd out the bad with the good.
This is the best tip I’ve got for you, and really the only one you need. The more you put the good stuff in, the less room there is for the bad. Fill up your calendar with friendly dates for a green juice or tea, hikes and yoga classes, and fill up your grocery cart with seasonal produce and sweet fresh fruits, herbal teas, and sparkling water and limes. The less room you have for junk, the less will go in.
I know you don’t have time for meditation. That 10 minutes of your day could be spent on Facebook, checking the sports page, or taking a series of flattering self portraits or photos of your dog to share on Instagram. There are a lot of things you could do with 10 minutes of your day, but most likely none as important or transforming as the 10 you sit your duff down on a meditation pillow, close your eyes, and simply tune out to tune in. I’m not the first to say “those that are too busy for meditation are the ones that need it most”. If you are new to meditation check out Deepak Chopras guided meditations.
5. Journal and become aware of your triggers.
Food Journaling is one of the easiest ways to get familiar with your true patterns. When I first started journaling it really opened my eyes to how often I put something in my mouth, be it out of boredom, because I was socializing, or simply because I was cooking. It also made me privy to some pretty indicative patterns in my life (i.e.: if I drink wine I’ll eat everything in sight, if I skip breakfast or lunch I start munching at 3 and don’t stop till 9, if I don’t get enough sleep I’ll crave and over-eat sweets.) These were huge for me, and helped me adjust my daily patterns so I could be my best self. If you’ve never kept a food journal, all you need to do is keep a little notepad with you and write down what you eat and when you are eating it, as well as any other notes around feelings such as hunger, light headedness, fatigued, cravings, etc. After a few days you’ll be able to look back at patterns to see where you can make some adjustments.
6. Knowledge is power, and so is your support system.
Surround yourself with others who are striving for similar goals. Find ‘meet up’ groups on yahoo, workshops by experts at colleges, natural health schools, and yoga studios. Create a private group on Facebook with a group of friends near or far that have similar health interests to start sharing articles and inspirations. Facebook pages like Cho-Yung Tea's ► https://www.facebook.com/choyungdirect/ . Rent films and buy books that will help inspire you and teach you the whys behind the shifts you’re making so you can continue to educate those around you. Consider inviting your friends and family to watch these films with you. Great films to check out: Food Matters, Food Inc, Hungry for Change. Great Books: Super Cleanse, Diet for a New America, Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The Skinny Bitch.
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