This is the time of year when many of you may be eager to shed those extra winter pounds, It’s tempting to look for the quickest, easiest way to make this happen but rather than reach for a diet that’s rigid and restrictive, why not start more slowly and make healthy changes one step at a time. Over time, these small steps can lead to healthy behaviours and a better chance for long term success. I’ll write more about this in future posts but here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Make a plan:
Whatever changes you want to make, break them down into some small, specific actions that you can accomplish and feel good about. Instead of saying, “I want to eat better”, pick one or two things that you can and will actually do. For example, “I will start eating breakfast” or “I will use milk instead of cream in my coffee”. And instead of saying, “I want to lose 30 pounds”, start with 5 pounds and when that is accomplished and feels right, start on your next 5.
- A few steps at a time:
Write your goals down and check them regularly. Once you have accomplished the first few, try one or two more.
- Keep a food journal:
This is one of your best success strategies. If you have a blackberry or I-phone, there are apps that you can use to keep track. If not, get a small journal that will fit in your pocket or purse.
- Make it personal:
Your eating plan must reflect your lifestyle in order to be successful. For example, if you travel a lot for work, develop strategies to eat healthily in hotels, on planes and in restaurants. Ask a dietitian or other health professional for help in your planning. If you work shifts, develop strategies for meals both at home and at work.
- Practice portion control:
It’s a smart strategy for eating well. Check the amount of pasta or other grain that you eat at a meal and reduce it by 1/4. Read labels and compare their serving size with what you actually eat.
- Think positive:
Reflect on past successes not past failures. It’s helpful to know what doesn’t work for you but it’s much better to put more energy on what does. When you slip up, don’t let it get you down. Learn from it and then move on.