Have you ever decided to make some pretty noteworthy health and/or nutrition changes and then not followed through? Well, me too. I think we can all admit to breaking our healthy streaks at some point. Today I want to talk about some approaches that might help you find success and actually achieve your nutrition goals, whatever they may be. Maybe your goals include eating less after 8pm. Or taking 30 minutes each day after work for a run. Or keeping a food record to track your progress towards a weight goal. Maybe its eating breakfast or sleeping at least 8 hours a night. Or maybe its simply cooking dinner for yourself/your family more often and eating out less.
What are your nutrition goals that are constantly resurfacing? What health patterns do you want to become the new normal in your life?
I think its worth mentioning that our lives are fluid. We go through mountains and valleys and have more time and less time and feel settled or unsettled, etc. Or have clingy newborns or into-everthing toddlers (me) or have school schedules or work schedules, etc, etc. Life is made up of many phases, all which require re-evulating to make them work.
Even though you might have had a style of eating that worked for you at one time in your life, but its not working anymore, thats okay. There is no reason to feel regret.
I loved being vegetarian, mostly in my early marriage and while I was pregnant. I loved creatively coming up with plant-based meals, trying new recipes that were out there, and using new ingredients I didnt know existed. I felt great eating that way. I also was working for a vegetarian/vegan program at Microsoft at the time, and I felt it was important to know what its like eating that way, in order to best develop a program to fit their needs. Not eating meat for me was also for health reasons, as I think our meals are too meat-laden in the US (Britain too, probably), and I am wary of commodity meat processing. Its plain out disgusting, and honestly, meat just didnt sound good at this stage in my life. Part of being an RDN and having worked in the food/beverage industry has made me a bit stuck up (I like to call it discerning) when it comes to knowledge of how food is produced and where it comes from, and I admit it open-heartedly.
Since, I started eating meat again. Mostly because I had less time to cook during the newborn days, and animal proteins actually sounded good again especially while I was breastfeeding. Meat was a relatively easy + quick, filling thing to prepare. I think Ill probably eat vegetarian again, or pescatarian because I do enjoy salmon and oysters, but for right now- eating meat works for me. We still dont eat a ton, or eat it every day by any means, but its a regular thing I cook again. Ive also had fun experimenting with some meat-containing recipes. I am picky about the meat I buy, especially in England. Generally I choose to save my money and buy less, really high quality meat to eat now and then.
For me, sticking to a primarily vegetarian diet was important to me for a phase of life. And now, though I am eating meat, I still work to limit our family meals that contain meat. This takes some planning to come up with family approved meat-free meals.
If youre wanting to eat less meat, or make another nutrition change in your life, making smaller rather than radical goals are the best place to start. You want to makes goals that are achievable and that set you up for success. Once youve been successful, you will feel more confident in your ability to reach the healthy you you envision. You can also keep making goals that build off each other. So, realize that our lives fluctuate and re-evaluating your health choices and nutrition goals is totally fine.
All this to say, here are 4 ways to create nutrition goals, and stick to them.
1. Dont be over-ambitious. Be realistic. Make your nutrition goals small, and achievable to have the best opportunity to be successful.
2. Tell someone about your goals. Ask them to ask you about it. If youre a list person, write it down and post it somewhere youll see regularly (fridge, mirror).
3. Give yourself some slack. If you dont stick to it, thats okay. Forgive your body and start over. Also, if your initial goal was too over-zealous, allow yourself the opportunity to re-evaluate, and alter it if need be.
4. Practice mindfulness. Do what you need to do to connect with yourself each day, apart from stimulation. Our bodies yearn to slow down, to be nourished, and well rested. Sometimes putting these things back in check first will make you feel great, and will give you the energy you need to tackle larger goals.