Could Your Diet Be Clouding Your Thinking?
Would it surprise you to know that an estimated 189 million American adults forged into 2021 armed with New Year’s resolutions? These optimists started the year with the best intentions to improve their lives, making secret pinky-swear promises with themselves, focused on health, wealth, personal connections, self-reflection, and more. Losing weight and eating healthier/improving diet consistently ranks in the top five “this year I’m gonna do it” resolutions.
Sticking to these goals? That’s another matter entirely.
One set of statistics shows that just nearly half of the promise-makers kept some but not all of their resolutions from 2020 with another 16 percent advising they didn’t stick to any.
But don’t despair. There are reasons for the drop-off and tips to be had.
Prepare Yourself Nutritionally in the New Year
For example, let’s take a look at losing weight to start.
For some, losing weight is not the hard part. It’s keeping the weight off. It’s one thing if you’re planning to take off a quick five or 10 pounds to fit into a special occasion dress or tuxedo, but your body will respond better in the long run to consistency and balance in eating rather than experiencing the yo-yo effect of losing 10, gaining 10, which, let’s face it, over the years for many of us turns into losing 10, gaining 20. You do the math.
It’s no wonder that weight loss and nutrition experts are offering up another approach. Many suggest rather than focus on dieting, you instead focus on your overall diet for the best results.
Want Some New Year Resolutions for Eating Healthy? Make Your Resolutions Year-Round.
In other words, reframe your ‘tude about food. There’s no shortage of tips when it comes to healthy eating and weight management. Here are six to get you started, but they are by no means the be all or end all. Figure out what works best for you.
- There’s a professional for that. Improving your diet is one of the loftier—and highly beneficial—goals you can set. You don’t need to do it on your own. From doctors or therapists who specialize in weight management and healthy weight loss to registered dietitians who can craft a healthy eating plan that works specifically for you—these are just some of the experts who can help you along your get-nutritionally-fit journey.
- Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Yes, eating should be a pleasurable experience. Just don’t make it your only pleasurable experience. We’re not saying you can’t indulge yourself with your favorite edible temptations every once in a while. But some science shows that certain foods—hello sugar, hey there highly saturated fats—can cloud your brain (more on that later in the blog). Not to mention the more sugar and saturated fats you take in, the more your brain will want to take in more. And your brain, like the rest of your body, will function best when it’s properly fed. So, choose your treats wisely.
- Retrain your brain. As it turns out, you may be able to retrain your brain to crave healthier foods. When you eliminate sugary sweets and replace them with fruit and low-carb snacks and focus on moving away from saturated fats to enjoying monosaturated or polyunsaturated fats, your brain will likely get your body to adjust. And more likely than not your body will let you know how grateful it is for that midday apple snack and salmon dinner. Breaking an old habit and replacing it with a new habit can take a while—some research says at least 21 days, and others suggest a minimum of a month—so be patient and give your body time to adjust. You’ll feel the difference in time.
- Play mind games with your brain. We’re not suggesting that you be dishonest with one of the most important organs in your body. But there are little things you can do to help your brain make you think differently about what and the way you eat. For example, knowing that portion control is a big problem, apparently especially for Americans, think about switching your dishes. If you’re used to a big dinner plate, and filling that plate with food, think about it: filling a small plate with the food that fits will still be less food than the former pile-up.
- Don’t treat your body like your trash bin. If you grew up being told by your mom that wasting food was a sin because people are starving in some faraway land, she was on the right track, but with the wrong solution. While you don’t want to throw food away recklessly, cleaning your plate won’t help others without food and may create a lifelong habit of overeating. Try this: make it a point to leave some food behind, to stop eating halfway through your meal, to see just how hungry you really are. It’s okay to throw some food away (or save it for the next day), rather than shoveling in everything, as if your body were the trash can. If you want to help reduce food insecurity, donate to, or volunteer with, one of the many organizations that work to feed those who need the help.
- Plan your meals ahead of time. For many of us, our worst food choices happen when we’re not prepared. When we grab the closest and easiest thing to get on the dinner table, usually not what would be healthiest for us. If you plan your grocery shopping and plan your meals, you’ll reduce the number of times you’re standing with the refrigerator door wide open, wondering how you’re going to pull together dinner from the ragtag collection of the foods staring back at you. All too often that behavior ends up with someone in your family making a quick trip to a fast-food restaurant, a quick visit from your local pizza joint, or a meal that lacks good nutrition. Planning ahead will reduce your meal-time stress and help you make healthier choices.
There’s good reason to want to eat healthier. Just ask your brain.