3.. 2..1.. Happy New Year!
'Alright, time to get fit, start that diet, lose weight, sleep better, get on social media less, be more tidy, be more kind, save more money, follow my dreams, and oh, I should probably try to start meditating as well.'
Whether you have one or all of these goals, it can be overwhelming. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February (1).
I'm not being a Negative Nelly, I am (clearly) all about working to become better versions of ourselves, planning for the future, and conquering goals. However, starting a new year with a mindset like the one stated above can do more harm than good (1, 2). Most individuals who take drastic measures to make changes will get tired, burn out, repeat the cycle, and remain 'stuck'. Living like a hamster on a wheel. I've been there.
Last January, I talked about shifting the focus to what is added, not subtracted from your daily intake (Health Goals Made Simple). This year I am expanding on that post. Daily routines make us who we are. If you do one little thing each day (like trying to add in vegetables or fruit), your life can positively change. This approach to "bettering ourselves" is not overwhelming and is sustainable.
As a dietitian, I have established a healthy eating routine that fits my needs and my life. (As a human, I am always working on other aspects of myself and my life.) An eating routine is not a schedule with exact times, and every day does not look exactly the same. Life is not that predictable, people, and being that strict can lead to failure. I'm trying to help by sharing something that is impossible to do wrong.
I see a "healthy eating routine" as being in tune with your body's cues, being prepared and having nutritious options available, eating at times that support your daily tasks, and enjoying all the goodness that cooking and good food can add to your life. It is simply getting back to the basics of your body, nourishment, and cooking. (Yes, there is always room for a cookie and wine!)
"Habit is one of the most powerful predictors of eating behavior (3)."
Below is a visual which generalizes a healthy eating routine. You can use this as an outline to mold to your specific needs. Maybe you work odd shifts (I hear you! It's hard to get used to!) or maybe you have to eat a large dinner due to medications... Establishing a routine based on your life can be accomplished. After you are comfortable with a healthy eating routine, you may see positive changes in other areas of your life.
For example, let's say nighttime snacking is something you want to change.
If you start with adding a nutritious breakfast it can positively change your nighttime routine in a roundabout way.
Picture this: Maybeee since you added a nutritious breakfast you feel more energized and become more efficient at work. When you feel efficient at work you are more happy when you get home. When you come home happier, you feel inspired to take a walk, clean, and read. When you walk, clean, and read, you are less stressed and nighttime cravings disappear, then... ;) You get the idea.
*Note: A routine eventually becomes second nature (a habit!). This means preparing food will become easier, your body will feel hungry when it is time to eat, it will be easier to stop eating when you are satisfied, and you can reap long-term health benefits (3). Remember: Everything worth doing takes time and effort.
(If you need a more printer-friendly copy, just email me!)
All in all, no matter what you are trying to accomplish in your life just start. You can start by doing one thing to be a better you, every day.
If you do, I think amazing things will happen in their own time!
My 2017 Reflection & 2018 New Year's Resolution: SimplyReal.
*Still working on that whole patience thing...
3. Jastran, M. M., Bisogni, C. A., Sobal, J., Blake, C., & Devine, C. M. (2009). Eating routines. Embedded, value based, modifiable, and reflective. Appetite, 52(1), 127–136. https://doi-org.marshall.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.appet.2008.09.003
4. O’Connor, L., Li, J., Sayer, R. D., Hennessy, J. E., & Campbell, W. (2018). Short-Term Effects of Healthy Eating Pattern Cycling on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: Pooled Results from Two Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 10(11). https://doi-org.marshall.idm.oclc.org/10.3390/nu10111725
5. Quote from Instagram: @byogamassage @mountainstatemassage