You became a competitive athlete because you enjoy a challenge. It isn't an easy process to reach the top. It takes hard work. Same with nutrition. If healthy eating came effortlessly to most of us, obesity would not be a nationwide epidemic. (See How to Form Healthy Eating Habits.)
Adopting better habits may seem difficult with fast food restaurants on every corner and sodium-laden foods on grocery store shelves. But you probably had similar feelings at some point during your training. It seemed impossible for you to jump that high or cut your sprint time. The same theory applies with unhealthy cravings. It seems hard at first, but when you take them out of your life, your body actually forgets about them. Have you ever given up soda for a time? That first sip back always sends a feeling of "ugh," because it's never as good as you remember it.
So how do you take unhealthy foods out of your life and introduce healthy habits? You've probably heard the basics, like keep a food journal and eat your fruits and vegetables. But here are three tips you've probably never heard of—easy steps that can bring about a lifestyle change that sticks. If you attempt to change the way you eat overnight, you'll burn out quickly; and before you know it, you will find yourself with your hand in a bag of sugar cookies. When you learn to eat right, not only will you see changes in the mirror, you'll feel better, have more energy, perform better and find a new level of confidence.
Lists Are Important
From now on, each time you go to the grocery store, bring a list with you. Shopping with a list will ensure that you buy only what you need and help you avoid impulse items. Just because Oreos are on sale doesn't mean you should add them to your cart. A shopping list serves as your reminder to stay on track.
Make Just One Change
Look at your daily habits and choose just one thing that you can change. Maybe you drink sodas. Perhaps you eat out for lunch most days. Maybe you drink whole milk. Choose one thing that you know you can change and concentrate on it for the next seven days. After a week, choose another focus and make that change. If you continue to make one healthy change each week, think of what can happen after a month.
If you're serious about adopting a healthy eating lifestyle, it's time to clean up. Toss out, give away or sequester foods you know should be eliminated. Out of sight, out of mind. You know which foods should be eliminated; the hard part is to actually eliminate them. But you can do it!
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