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How to Build Healthy Eating Habits and Make Them Stick

How to Build Healthy Eating Habits and Make Them Stick


    As a lifelong fitness enthusiast, I know the great importance of proper nutrition. Still being able to maintain a 30 inch waistline in my middle age, I think that I should have enough proven credibility to give you a few tips on how to build healthy eating habits and make them stick.

    Physical activity is only 50% of the overall health equation. The other 50% is nutrition. And without healthy eating habits, one will not be able to achieve good health and fitness.

    So it does depend on what you eat, and in this modern age of convenience and rushed daytime schedules, it’s easy to eat unhealthy. So here are some areas to consider that will help keep you on the right health track.

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    Educate Yourself On Food And Healthy Eating Habits

    In order to eat healthy, you have to understand which foods are actually healthy and which ones are not. Learn from reading nutrition books and websites. Maybe even consult a dietician to get you started.

    Quite often, convenient foods are laced with too much salt, sugar and other ingredients, which are not considered healthy. These ingredients can often be hidden, so it is important as part of your education to learn to read food labels while at the grocer.

    Learn what ingredients to avoid, as major components are usually listed first in the food labels. Also verify and compare fat contents since many food items — which are promoted as ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ — might very well still be quite high in fat. Being educated on what is contained within various types of food will help you weed out much of the unhealthy food you otherwise might end up eating.

    Learn To Substitute Foods And Ingredients

    In the old days, healthy eating meant a diet of bland-tasting food. I still remember that veggie burger that tasted like cardboard.

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    Those days are thankfully gone as food technology has improved significantly. Many of the lower fat versions of food items (like cheese and frozen yogurt) taste just as good as their standard “full-fat” versions.

    One can also still cook great tasting food at home by simply substituting some of the ingredients. For example, use olive oil instead of butter for frying. Reduce salt by adding spices instead. Choose leaner cuts of meat and trim off visible fat before cooking. Something that I’ve done over the years is to drastically cut down on red meats at home and increase my intake of fish and poultry. By learning some great recipes with fish and poultry, I really don’t miss red meat all that much.

    One of the big areas to substitute is in snacking. Instead of candy bars or potato chips (or other junk food), try nuts or fruit. During the hot summers, I keep a supply of frozen grapes and if I feel the urge to nibble on something, I just grab one or two frozen grapes. Not only are these healthy, they are also refreshing during hot temperatures.

    Keep Related Goals In Mind

    In order to help you stick to healthy eating habits once you plan them, I find that it helps to keep related goals in mind. For example, each time I look in the mirror I make a point of looking at the condition of my abs. I want to maintain a half decent physical shape so what I see in the mirror is a constant reminder that I have to keep eating well.

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    When I see other people around my age group or even younger than me who are out of shape, I always observe that they are not eating healthy. They usually eat foods that are high in fat. Keeping observant with this helps me even more to keep away from bad eating habits since I don’t want to end up like those poor folks who have let themselves go in that department.

    Another goal that is more specific is that I want to be able to perform well on the ski slope during the winter and maintain my martial arts all year round. I can generally tie in my overall performance levels in these sports back to my diet as one of the elements required. See if there are any related activities that you want to do well that you can somehow relate back to nutrition. Then keeping this top of mind will help you steer clear of bad foods.

    After all, you don’t want to blame poor performance in your favorite activities partly on bad diet.

    Be Around Others Who Eat Healthy

    This last point is related to having others help you in your goals. Sometimes it’s hard to eat right when all of your friends, family members and co-workers eat unhealthy. So make sure that you spend time with other people who already eat well. This will help inspire you to eat healthy as well. You’re basically using teamwork to help you achieve the goal of eating healthy.

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    There’s really no magic in how to build healthy eating habits and make them stick. Good health is long term and the only way to achieve it is through all the little successes that add up when you have another healthy meal and finish another workout.

    Follow the above tips — as I do each and every day — during your meals and snack periods to ensure optimum health.

    (Photo credit: Woman Feeding Fresh Vegetables to Kids via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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