Health

How to transition into a healthier diet

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racorn / Shutterstock

racorn / Shutterstock

Almost everyone has goals of eating healthier, but the reality is often too difficult to manage. It seems like life always tempts you, right?

One morning you wake up bound and determined to start eating healthier, and you feel like this is the day! This is the first day of the rest of your life! Then the monkey wrench gets tossed. At work, it’s someone’s birthday (isn’t it always?). A giant slice of frosted chocolate cake with gorgeous pink and green flowers is thrust into your shaking hands. A paper cup with bubbles of champagne popping delightfully above is handed to you with a cheery “Bottoms up!” You can already feel the bubbles tickling your nose. What else is a girl to do but wish her boss “happy birthday” and indulge a little?

Naturally, this leads to a massive sugar craving that hits you like a freight train. When the crew invites you for drinks and apps after work, there’s no resisting the temptation. Several hours and two blooming onions plus more than your fair share of nachos later, you’re lying in bed feeling sick to your stomach and sick of your weakness. Maybe tomorrow will be better….

Steady on. You know, you don’t have to go full in when you want to start eating a healthier diet. In fact, some studies show that transitioning slowly may yield longer-lasting results. So how about taking it nice and easy and trying these ideas for transitioning into a healthy diet.

Start With One

That’s right, just one tiny little “tweak” in your diet can snowball into a whole new healthy you! The trick is to just let yourself think that’s all you’re doing – ever. If you get the idea that this is the start of having to give up every little goodie you love, it might not work. Say to yourself, “I’m willing to do this one little thing, but THAT’S IT!” When you start to feel better about yourself both mentally and physically, you’re ready for the next step.

Add In a New Experience

One of the best ways to make a change in your life – diet or otherwise  – is to initiate some kind of change. To help transition to a healthier diet, add in a new experience to your life. It can be anything really. Try eating your lunch on a bench in the park instead of in the office kitchen. Or start bicycling to work instead of driving. Or try going to the movies by yourself one night a week. Anything that will help your brain take notice that you’re changing. Believe it or not, this will help you make that healthy transition into eating better.

Treat Yourself

No, I don’t mean go out and buy a box of Krispy Kremes. Treat yourself to something really luxurious from a health store, like cocoa nibs, or vegetable stix, or some cocktail shrimp, or…well, you get the idea. The idea is that you can feel like you’re getting something really awesome and it can still be healthy for you. So go on and head into a Whole Foods or a local health store and see what healthy treats entice you. If you choose wisely, you’ll have a brand new go-to snack that you won’t feel bad about indulging in.

Forgive Yourself

The worst thing you can do is to feel like a bad person if you are overweight or drinking too much or just making poor diet choices. That kind of attitude can spiral you into a pattern that makes you keep doing the same things. So decide right now that you’re going to forgive yourself whenever you fail to adhere to your dreams of eating a healthy diet. The better you feel about yourself, the higher the value you’ll place on your health, which will empower you to continue the climb.

Fire at Will

Now start adding things at will to your diet. Things that you actually like, not just things that you read you’re supposed to be eating. If you dislike seaweed, then pass on the sushi, but maybe poach some wild salmon. If you hate salads, sip soup instead. The point here is, eat what tastes good to you so you don’t feel like you’re forcing yourself to eat health food that you hate. As you add more and more healthy and delicious choices to your diet, your appetite for the junk food will naturally diminish over time.

You know how long you have to transition to a healthier diet? As long as it takes. Even if you don’t get there for ten more years, at least your diet will be improving instead of going downhill. And that’s more than can be said for so many thousands of people in the world. So help share the message that a transition is far better than going cold turkey.

Kate Supino is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing her research and experience with readers everywhere. She lives in sunny South Florida.