There is no question that the food we eat and the things we drink impact how much we weigh and how healthy we are. While most of us know this, the choices we make every day would indicate otherwise. The percentage of us that are currently overweight( 66%) or obese (33%) according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that many of us need to change the choices we are making in order to avoid serious health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and high blood pressure.
If we understand the importance of a healthy diet and know that we need to make serious changes to how we are living in order to protect our health, why are so many of us overweight? The simplest answer is that we are not willing to make the changes we need to make to be healthier. However, for many of us, willpower alone isn’t the problem. For some of us, it is time and our unwillingness to devote the time needed to learn what we should eat, and then plan ahead so that we have access to the healthy choices when time tight. For others, it is misinformation. We know that we need to make healthy choices, but we don’t understand which choices are healthy and which are not. Still others don’t believe they have the capacity to change, they feel they were born “this way” and that no matter how hard they try permanent weight loss is not possible for them.
Underneath all of these “excuses” is one underlying challenge that everyone faces when they seek to make lasting lifestyle changes. Thinking about changing how and what you eat can rapidly become overwhelming. As we catalog the things we love that we “won’t ever be able to eat again” and buy ingredients we have never used before, the change becomes too much to handle at once. This is one of the reasons most people don’t succeed when they set New Year’s resolutions. Trying to change your entire relationship with food overnight is often too overwhelming to undertake and most of us give up before we ever really get started. We often approach dietary changes as if they are an all or nothing proposition. If we slip up and slide back into an old eating pattern, we give up and give in on the whole change.
The key to making real and lasting life changes like trading in your high calorie, low nutrient diet for something healthier is to take small steps, celebrate small wins, and set your sights on the long term rather than the scale. Here are some tips to help you turn small steps in changing your eating habits into real rewards for your weight and your health.
- Set small goals like going down a size or taking a weekly walk
- Focus on adding in more healthy options rather than on taking away treats
- Start substituting a healthier option like eating brown rice instead of white rice
- Buy local produce, meat and dairy which increases your intake of fresh, unprocessed ingredients
- Drink more water
- 4 Tips to Eat Right in the New Year (fillyourplate.org)
- Eat Right and Stop Diabetes in its Tracks (filyourplate.org)
- Obesity Epidemic: Supermarkets Make It Easier to Eat Healthier (fillyourplate.org)