Before you join the next 75 hard, 30-day challenge, Whole 30 or Diet Bet, take a minute to evaluate your eating behaviors. Most of us join these challenges to keep us ‘on track’ with our food intake and choices, but the problem is not choices; it’s the behaviors we’ve learned and adapted while growing up. Break the cycle. What we eat affects how we feel. However, many of us have developed habits—good habits and habits that are bad. It’s not too late to make a change.
Have you heard of the “clean plate” mentality? Coming from a background of deprivation, the Boomer Generation was taught to value food and eat what you take due to scarcity. If it ends up on your plate, you need to eat it. How does this relate to the eating behaviors of today? The behaviors learned from that time of deprivation trickled down into future generations coining different names along the way…’ happy plate,’ ‘smiley plate,’ or even ‘if you finish cleaning your plate, you can get a treat.’
These terms created an unnecessary food psychology that led us to an unhealthy obsession with cleaning our plates instead of listening to our bodies hunger cues. While we often have the best intentions to eat healthier, this is often challenging. So what are we going to do to change our eating behaviors? While this list is not comprehensive, it’s a start:
Highlighting Unhealthy Eating Habits
Defining our eating habits allows us to hone them during meals. Are you eating too fast? Put the fork down between bites and chew/savor the food instead of rushing to the next thing. Are you focusing on cleaning your plate? Stop when you are satisfied. Not full or stuffed, but satisfied. Everything goes back to listening to your hunger cues. Identify the triggers that lead to negative eating habits, and find ways to combat them.
Build Healthy Eating Habits
Be a meal planner? Write out a weekly or monthly meal plan and stick to it. Ensure the meal plan balances proteins, vegetables, fruits, carbs, and healthy fats. Cook at home more often. Cooking at home doesn’t need to be boring ~ follow some takeout fakeout recipes and recreate some of your favorite restaurant quality meals. Or keep it simple. Nothing is wrong with a turkey sandwich, chips, and a side of veggies.
Follow The KISS Method
Keep it simple, sweetie! Did you think I was going to say stupid? Why did they teach us that in school? Or am I showing my age? We start to create a slippery slope of poor and unattainable eating habits when each meal attempts to be Pinterest-worthy. Pick one or two new meals each week, and rotate in your favorite favorites for the rest. Stick to what you know to form those healthy eating habits. Once you have created the baseline, let’s switch things up and explore.
Trust Yourself & Trust The Process
Listen to your body. Does your body need that bag of chips just because you think you want them, or are you eating out of boredom? Eat at regular times. Not every day will be the same but keep some consistency in your meal times. It’s harder to make healthy choices when you’re hungry. Portion out your food. Utilizing food scales and placing your foods in a bowl or plate alleviates mindless munching.
Habits take time to develop. Training our brains to eliminate the ‘clean plate mentality’ and examine our eating behaviors will take time. Reinforce your new healthy habits, and be patient with yourself because hard work will pay off in the end. One mistake does not spoil all the progress. Trial and patience will set you on the path to creating healthy eating habits. Until next time!
Author: Monica Brigham