Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into and hard to get out of. I don’t know who said it but I bet it is about unhealthy eating.
I spent 22 years of my life eating whatever the hell I wanted. And then I started working a desk job.
What happened next was unexpected but a natural progression for someone who is aging. Everything I was eating was starting to show on the weighing scale and it was devastating. I started a religious gym routine and I saw positive results, but the process was unbelievably slow.
Then, like a revelation from God, I discovered that good health is 70% diet and 30% exercise. Turns out 6 am gym visits alone were not enough…
So, after struggling for about six months (with more cheat days than healthy days), I finally figured out how we can get into a habit of eating healthy without feeling like it’s invading our easy life.
But before you read any further, the first thing you need to do is believe one simple fact: Your body is the only place where you will live for ever. And that is why you love it and want to take care of it. It’s your ~eternal abode.
So here we go…
Take baby steps
Slow progress is better than no progress. And taking baby steps toward healthy eating is better than torturing yourself toward it. This is why I suggest you go one habit at a time. I wasn’t trying to lose weight but I noticed that I lacked basic nutrients in my diet that could save me from easily avoidable diseases in 20 years time. I started adding items to my day that don’t seem big, but do have awesome long-term effects. Some of them were:
- A glass of milk
- At least one teaspoon honey
- One fruit per day
- At least one cup of green tea
Don’t pressure yourself
One of the most effective ways to convince yourself that you are a healthy human being is to break your diet the way you want to (as long as it’s happening). Don’t pressure yourself into avoiding foods you are craving or eat foods you don’t feel like eating. This method worked best for me because I felt like I was in charge of my health. That feeling of having things under control saved me a lot of self-pity. I knew if I had one or two days of unhealthy eating, I’ll make it up with three or four of healthy ones – if I felt like it. Didn’t feel like a diet, definitely didn’t feel like punishment.
The greatest feature on smartphones today for a forgetful generation is also your greatest savior in your fight against unhealthy eating. Reminders like “drink water,” “green tea,” “fruit day” give you that small push when you are on the verge of forgetting a good habit. You don’t want to lie in your bed every night regretting not having a cup of green tea because you forgot, do you? Not only that, reminders also bring the one thing a healthy lifestyle is all about – consistency! So, abuse your reminders, they’re free.
Find a partner
My partner is my sister and that works for me in many ways; she motivates me to keep going, stops me when there are too many cheat days, competes with me when eating healthy gets boring and I do the same for her. A partner who is as motivated as you are about becoming fit and someone you see every day will not only speed up the process but also make healthy eating fun.
Don’t give up anything
The idea of giving up something that we enjoy is scary for the human brain. So unless we are talking about 5 cans of soda every day, I suggest you don’t tell your brain you are planning to (abruptly) quit anything that you like. I’m still guilty of consuming things like McDonald’s every now and then but it has reduced drastically because I tell my brain “Listen, I can eat McDonald’s whenever I want because I haven’t given it up, but let’s not do it today because I’m a healthy human being.” That’s it! Saying something like this to my brain automatically makes it easy for me to give it up in that moment.
We’re not getting any younger, you know. We can’t afford to keep eating like 14-year olds and hope we will digest it. That doesn’t work in adult world.
And these tips are extremely easy to follow. Yet, they may still sound difficult to some people and there’s a wonderful saying for people like that: you can only lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.
If you really want to be healthy, you will find a way to do it.