Healthy Habits for life: Shifting from a Weight Loss goal to Health & Self-Care
Updated: Jul 22, 2022
Have you struggled with yo-yo dieting & an on-and-off the wagon struggle to lose weight?
Rejecting the "diet" mentality and shifting the focus to health & healthy habits with outcomes such as feeling good, energised, sustained, more productive, fitter, stronger and overall happier, is a way to finally put an end to the on-and -off the wagon struggle.
Focusing on health rather than on losing weight prevents future weight regain due to healthy lifestyle choices beyond a weight loss goal.
When you start to put the trust back in to your body to know what feels good, start caring for your body more and start to see yourself as a healthy individual, making healthy lifestyle decisions, you will be more likely to want to always feel this good and repeat these healthy behaviours or habits.
Here are a few of my top healthy eating habits and ways in which to achieve them:
Count nutrients instead of calories.
Why? Considering the combination of nutrients in each of your meals or snacks will help to stabilise blood sugars, improve energy levels and productivity, regulate mood, prevent high hungers and cravings, increase satiety and improve gut health. How to achieve it:
Add lots of colour to your day for visual appeal, nutrition and regulation of total energy intake at one time e.g. fill half your plate with vegetables/salad at lunch/dinner or add fruit to your breakfast/snack times
Include some energy food i.e. wholegrains/starchy veg/legumes/fruit with each meal/snack
Include some protein with each meal for fullness e.g. cheese/eggs/milk/yoghurt/meat/chicken/fish/legumes/soy
Include a drizzle or sprinkle of fats with each meal to make it more satisfying (and prevent looking around for something else after a meal time to still satisfy)
Reframe your language and make peace with all foods. Instead of thinking of "good" or "healthy" or "clean" foods and "bad" or "unhealthy" foods, think of "treats" or "fun foods" and "nutritious" foods.
Why? All foods have a place and should be enjoyed in moderation. As soon as you start to label foods as "bad", you are likely to want them more (forbidden fruit phenomenon). Some foods provide longer lasting energy, satiety and more nutritional value, while others are for pure enjoyment or fun. When you are actually hungry, you may want to consider what will satisfy your hunger and give your body the energy and nutrition that it needs to sustain you for the next few hours until you need to eat again, rather than choosing something that will only give you a quick, short-term energy spike, followed by a dip in energy and a higher hunger soon after again.
How to achieve it:
Try to add in a variety of foods from different food groups into a meal/snack to make it balanced and longer lasting
If you are craving something specific, ask yourself if that will sustain you if you are actually hungry, or what you can ADD in with it to make it last longer
Enjoy all foods without any guilt, knowing you can always have it again when you want it another time
Listen to your body's signals for hunger and fullness. Eat to feel energised, satisfied, sustained, content, comfortable and no longer hungry.
How to achieve it:
Eat when your body first signals hunger rather than waiting for primal hunger (e.g. moody, headache-y, lethargic, ravenous) and follow a regular meal pattern
Incorporate a balanced snack between meals if meal gaps are longer than about 3-4 hours
Avoid eating to the point of feeling stuffed, bloated, lethargic, uncomfortable and overly full.
Be present at meal/snack times and use them as a refuelling, energising and enjoyable time-out from your day
Eat at a table, from a plate and aim for at least 15 minutes per meal
Slow down your pace of eating, check-in with your body with a pause (or a few pause moments) to be more in tune with when you are full, satisfied and ready to stop eating
Drink plenty of water throughout the day
Why? This will help you feel more alert and awake and less hungry. Your body may signal hunger instead of thirst when you are dehydrated
How to achieve it:
Pair the habit of drinking water with other habits in the day
With each meal/snack (sip on water in your pause moments during meal/snack times to tune back in to your body's signals)
On waking up
Around and during exercise times
For personalized guidance in tuning back in to your body's signals and making satisfying, energising and nutritious food choices book a consultation here: https://www.gabimeltzerdietician.com/book-online.