Takes only days to break our good health habits and weeks or months to make them stick.
Here it is two weeks into the new year and I’m just beginning to feel “detoxed” from ridiculous amounts of sugary, rich holiday food. It’s sad that it takes only days to break our good health habits and weeks or months to make them stick. (Research from University College of London shows that it takes an average of 66 days for a new healthy habit to feel automatic.)
When it comes to keeping that resolution to lose weight, Maji Koetter-Ali, licensed and registered dietitian with Norton Weight Management Services, told me “diets” routinely fail because we focus on the quick fix and not on permanent lifestyle changes.
She says the best diet is one we can stick to. Koetter-Ali, who counsels patients at the Norton Health & Wellness Center, says in our super busy lives everyone has different food preferences and different lifestyles to accommodate. She says, “Be realistic and try to incorporate a diet that will suit your personal needs and can last for the long-term.” That means planning ahead, making it less likely that you’ll fall off the wagon and into the fast food drive-thru. That’s easier to do than you might think. One study from Cornell Food and Brand Lab found Americans are eating more frequently due to the availability of fast, convenient food, and advertising that creates a temptation to eat even when they aren’t hungry.
That’s where “mindless eating” comes into play. We grab a bag of chips and sit in front of the TV, finishing the bag before we even realize it. I’m guilty of buying “2 for the price of 1 bags of peanuts” at the gas station because it was a deal and then I eat both bags. Mindless eating can certainly get you into trouble. One article I read in Women’s Health listed these tips on avoiding “mindless eating.
- Check your hunger level – Ask yourself if you are really hungry or just bored, tired, stressed or thirsty.
- Drink water – It’s easy to confuse the signal for thirst with hunger.
- Take a few minutes to refocus – Take a walk, lift hand weights, do some leg raises or lie down for a power nap.
- Prepare healthy snacks – Having something to nibble on can curb the feeling of needing to eat, plus it increases intake of vegetables.
- Find a hobby – Find something else to do while watching TV or whenever your “weak moments” occur, such as needlework and jigsaw puzzles, that keep your hands busy rather than eating.
Now that we’ve got our resolution back in focus, don’t be hard on yourself if you give in to weakness now and then. During the evening news tonight, I heard a dietitian say she lives by the 90/10 rule. She tries to eat the right things 90 percent of the time and gives herself a break 10 percent of the time. And Koetter-Ali says don’t try to make too many changes at once. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed to the point of giving up. She says: One step at a time, one change at a time and be in it for the long haul because quick fixes are few and far between.