5 Secrets to Achieving Your Healthy Eating Goals in 2018
As each year comes to an end, I quickly realize I hadn’t met my goals for eating healthy over the previous months. I would have added extra weight that needs to shed off. Does this situation happen to you?
For many people, (including me), part of the “New Year Resolution” for the following year will typically include HEALTHY EATING. We resolve to eat healthy and set goals to achieve this every year. Don’t we? But do we really meet our goals?
I am not an expert in goals setting but I know setting goals for any activity helps me to achieve results for that activity, including eating healthy.
Here are 5 secrets to setting realistic healthy eating goals and achieving them in 2018.
1. Answer the “Why” Question
As obvious as it may seem, the main reason for healthy eating is for health benefits. Healthy eating is a health-directed behaviour (an action a person does consciously to improve or protect their health). No doubt, health improvement or protection is the most important reason for healthy eating but it is not necessarily the only reason. healthy eating could be health-related (an action a person does for other reasons but have health impact). For example, some might eat healthy because they want to have a healthy looking body or a glowing skin, which boost their overall self-esteem, making them feel good about themselves. Others eat healthy to set a good example and inspire others- say their spouse or children. Yet another group would eat healthy because good nutrition is important for them to keep in shape to earn a living. This group includes athletes and fashion models. These are all examples of health-related eating behaviours.
“If you can answer the WHY, you are likely to answer the HOW”
Obviously, apart from staying healthy and being free from diseases, there are other motivations for eating healthy. So, what is your own motivation (apart from for health reasons, of course!)? How important is that to you?
Identifying what motivates you will help you to sustain efforts to eat healthily and keep you on track on your journey.
2. Have a Clear Goal
Eating healthy means different things to different people. What does “eating healthy” mean to you? Could your goals be: eating better quality food, eating from recommended food classes, eating the right portion size etc.? You have to pin down what aspect of your eating habit you want to work and improve and how you want to achieve your goals.
The clearer your goals are, the more likely you will work on them and the higher the chance you will achieve them.
3. Set Mini-goals.
People often say: “I want to eat healthy this year”. This is rather too broad a goal. Remember the traditional “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) objectives? This also applies to eating healthy. Accompanying healthy eating goals with SMART objectives is really an effective way to achieving your goals. An example of SMART objective will be: “I want to cut down on my sugar intake from three bottles of soda a day to one bottle a day, between January and March 2018”. Another example is: “I will increase my vegetable portion in my meals from eating one type of vegetable to four different vegetables a day, starting this January to June 2018”.
Break your goals into smaller, mini-goals and garnish your goals with SMART objectives.
The two examples above have all the attributes of SMART objectives. They specify what you want to work on (drinking soda and eating vegetables). You can measure them (from three bottles of soda to one bottle a day and from one type of vegetables to four a day). Both actions are achievable realistically within the given timeframes. In addition, the tasks do not look overwhelming, so, you are able and feel confident to achieve them.
4. Define how to monitor your progress and results
It is important to decide and define how you want to measure your progress and results. For example, depending on your current weight, eating healthy (in addition to physical activity) could help you cut down excess calories. You could measure your weight to see how much you lose over a specified time you choose. Changes in how your clothes fit your body is another way to know if you have shed some weight. Other ways to physically see (or mentally feel) the results of eating healthy include glowing skin, increased appetite, relaxing and calm mood, better sleep, increased energy, better attention span, etc.
Monitoring your progress and seeing the results of your efforts is a sure way to keep you motivated and energized to stay on your healthy eating journey.
5. Learn More about Food and Nutrition
Eating healthy may sound like an area of human endeavor that needs highly specialized knowledge and skills. This is not necessarily the case. You don’t need to have a diploma in Food and Nutrition to know how to eat healthily. Just like striving to have financial literacy to manage your personal and business finances will save you the bad experience of losing money and other financial catastrophes, basic knowledge of food and human nutrition will enable you to manage your health by eating the right foods.
There are many credible sources of information on food and nutrition on the internet. This is just about being friends with Google. You can buy food and nutrition books (e-books or paperback) online or in stores. By reading these books, you will get to know about the different food classes and nutrients and how they help your body, how your body utilizes food, healthy and unhealthy foods, diseases associated with unhealthy foods etc.
The little investments you make to gather knowledge on food will empower you to make informed choices about what you eat. It is worth it.
The holiday seasons are over. Possibly you added a few extra kilograms from eating foods cooked in unhealthy fats, or you ate excess sugars or highly salty foods. And, I know, you did this with no guilty feelings. After all, it was the holiday season. But the party is over. Get back to physical activity and eat right. And the right time to do so is NOW.
What goals have you set for eating healthy this year? Share your goals in the comment section.
Happy New Year and welcome to 2018!