It’s Habit Forming
I have been seeing a nutrition coach for several months now and have learned a great deal not only about food but myself and my habits. In fact, this work has extended into other parts of my life, too. It has been a very eye-opening experience and wanted to share what I have experienced and learned so far.
Good nutrition isn’t (necessarily) about a specific diet: It’s more about the lifestyle, which I knew, but it goes a bit further than eating clean or going organic in food choices. It’s about when you eat, your environment, your mindset (hunger, boredom, thirst) and more.
Creating new habits: Through my health and nutrition journey, I have learned that healthy eating is a habit. I had a habit of eating too many carbs and not enough protein. One helpful tool was keeping a food journal that included notes about how I was feeling, my environment, pitfalls, and triumphs. This helped me to identify some of my not-so-good habits.
New habits take time: Take one step at a time. Once I identified some of my challenges – working through lunch, stress eating, not eating mindfully, not enough protein – I tackled one thing at a time. Baby steps! First, I started with blocking off an actual lunchtime on my work calendar, for example. The next step was eliminating distractions that affected my eating – like turning off the TV and not scanning through social media during meals. I turned off those distractions and learned to enjoy eating. For me this was difficult. It became a habit to sit at the table and turn on the TV. I’m still working on this.
Habits vs diets: They are not the same. To me, diet conjures up images of deprivation. Who wants that? Life without chips – no way! Healthy habits – or behaviors – are more about balance – not deprivation. I’m not saying diet-based nutrition doesn’t work, it just doesn’t resonate with me.
Seeing a nutrition coach keeps me accountable and helps me work through the challenges of starting new habits. It is so easy to fall back on what feels comfortable! This is all still a work in progress; it takes time to form new habits. Even though I had a designated lunch hour on my calendar, I didn’t always step away from my desk. But, I keep at it and the lunch hour is still on my calendar. It’s a visual reminder to take some time for myself.
Currently, I’m reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I’m just getting started but it’s fascinating.
Have you tackled creating new habits? If so, share how it has improved your life? Any suggestions on other good reads?
Bottom line: Humans are creatures of habit. We do things so instinctively – we don’t even realize it sometimes. The food journal was a starting point and, for me, was a visual reminder and a way to identify some reoccurring themes. I believe I have more balance in my life now and it is becoming a way of life (or habit!). I don’t even have to think about it much. Do I still have chips? You bet! Pizza? You bet! I just learn to eat these foods in moderation. The best part? I feel so much better. That feeling motivates me to keep in the zone!