It’s that time of year again where the resolve is high and we want to be living our best lives. Now, whether you want to get on the healthy eating train because it’s the beginning of the New Year or because you’ve noticed your nutrition levels sliding a little from the stress of 2020, it’s never too late to start feeding your body food that makes you feel good.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – eating healthy takes a lot of time and energy and it kind of sucks. And even if you do start, you always end up falling off the wagon. Trust me, I’ve been there. And as someone who recently started a new nutrition regime to work out some digestive problems, I’m in the middle of it. But, there are a lot of life hacks that can make healthy eating feel a lot easier and a lot less like the end of the world.
So, if you need some support for your healthy living goals, (and let’s face it, we all do), you’re in the right place.
It can be really tempting to try and change everything at once. Sometimes the inspiration strikes and you want to tackle all your goals all at the same time. While the energy and motivation are commendable, it’s often hard to maintain such dramatic shifts, which then can lead to a depressive spiral. Been there, done that. And then it can feel even harder to push after your goals. It’s a vicious cycle.
According to Psychology Today, accomplishing small tasks gives your brain a rush of dopamine. So, this is literally a brain hack for eating healthy food: keep it simple. Break your big healthy eating goals into smaller, more manageable goals.
For example, my first small step towards my healthy eating goals was replacing all my bread with gluten free bread. Once I get into the routine of buying and eating that bread, I’ll move on to replacing the other grains in my house (pasta, crackers, etc.), with gluten-free alternatives.
So, it’s okay to think small. Although it may not feel like it, even small steps can make a big difference.
Set Specific Goals and Write Them Down
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have something written down, it’s not going to happen. So, make sure to create specific goals and write them down. Forbes Magazine found that people who wrote down their goals were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve their goals than people who didn’t write them down. That’s a huge difference! So, grab that pen and notebook, and write down your goals.
Having your goals written down can also help you keep track of how you’re doing. I have a monthly and weekly planner that I write in every day. At the beginning of the month, I write down my month-long goals or my overarching plans; for each week, I check off the days where I achieve those goals with a highlighter; and each day I write down the specific things that I want/need to do to help achieve the larger goals. I find it tremendously helpful in reminding myself to eat healthy while I’m still getting into the habit of it. Need some planners/journals to get started? We’ve got you covered.
Enlist Some Support From Family or Friends
Changing your eating habits can feel like an uphill battle, but it will be easier if you share your goals with some people around you. I know it can feel vulnerable to tell people personal things, and eating habits are definitely personal, but it’s so worth it. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor, and communicating with the people around you is a pretty good life hack anyway. Ohio State University recommends telling a person (or people) whose opinion you value, or who you trust. But letting the people close to you know that you’re setting new health goals is going to help keep you supported on the tough days.
When I started changing my diet, I told my best friend and my partner, who both offered to do it with me. While I didn’t take them up on the offer (because everyone is different and should find the foods that make them feel the best), it was so helpful feeling supported by the two people closest to me right from the beginning. It’s nice having people to talk you through the hard days and celebrate the victories with you.
Carry a Reusable Water Bottle
We all know that staying hydrated is good for you (drinking enough water carries nutrients to your brains and vital organs, helps keep bad bacteria at bay, and so many more good things!), but it can feel like such a chore, and it’s easy to forget. Having a reusable water bottle nearby throughout the day is a good visual reminder to keep drinking that H20, but it’s also more convenient so you don’t have to constantly refill your glass.
There are a lot of water bottles out there, but we’re in love with these Super Sparrow Insulated Water Bottles for a lot of reasons. They’re made of stainless steel and are eco-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about plasticizers seeping into your water or about harming the planet. They also have double-wall insulation, which ensures that your drinks will stay hot for 12 hours or cold for 24 hours with no condensation on the outside. And if that wasn’t enough, there are tons of different sizes and mouth shapes – including standard, sports, and small mouth sizes – so you can get the perfect water bottle for your needs. It’s basically the perfect water bottle and we are #OBSESSED.
Make a Shopping List
Have you ever gone to the store with the intention of buying a few things and then left with a cart full of goodies? I know I have (every week for my entire adult life, in fact). It’s easy to get stressed out when you’re in the grocery store and you’re not sure what you’ll use during the week – or you want to avoid a return trip (especially now, during covid) – and so you just grab everything you can think of.
Making a shopping list before you go to the store can help you narrow down the foods that you need to buy for the week and help you avoid overspending or buying foods that aren’t going to support your healthy eating goals. Of course, making a shopping list isn’t fool-proof, but it’s a good way to start being more mindful of the foods you are eating each week and the foods you are planning on eating. And the more you do it, the easier it will get!
Check out these Meal Planning & Grocery List Magnetic Pads to help you get started with a shopping list that will ensure you won’t forget anything.
Stock Up On Healthy Snacks
Does anyone else get “hangry” during the day? I know I’m a downright grump if I don’t eat a snack every few hours, but it’s hard to choose healthy snacks when I’m feeling like that. So, this is a hack for healthy eating I’ve learned the hard way. I only buy myself snacks that are good for me to eat. That way, when hunger strikes, I can just grab whatever is nearest and not worry about feeling bad later. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to grab something healthy when that’s the only option. And once you get in the habit of it, you’ll start loving the snacks in your pantry!
Take Some Time To Meal Prep
Meal prep can sound like a lot of work, but I’ve found that getting my lunches ready for the whole week has saved me time and stress. I don’t have to worry about being hungry when I want to eat, and I’m not tempted to order something that’s not on my list of healthy foods. So, taking some time to think through your weekly meals can be a good way to get yourself into the daily habit of eating good foods without the daily stress of cooking all the time.
If meal prepping feels like too much work for all your meals, start small! It’s okay to just think about one meal of the day that you would like to make ahead and start there. Meal prep containers will help make this easier.
Check out our favorite meal prep recipes from some of our favorite food bloggers:
You deserve to eat foods that make you feel good, and it doesn’t have to all feel like work. It’s important to reward yourself for all the hard work you’re putting in. Now, I used to struggle with rewarding myself for eating healthy food because I wanted to reward myself with pizza or dessert. It took me a long time to learn that rewarding myself with food that made me feel bad isn’t actually a reward. So, I’ve had to find other things to reward myself with.
Some of my favorite rewards are:
Reading my book for 15 minutes
Listening to one of my favorite songs
Playing with my cat with no interruptions for 10 minutes
Making a healthy dessert (this Avocado Chocolate Mousse is one of my faves from Chocolate Covered Katie)
Watching one episode of my current binge (We’re loving Bridgerton!)
I’ve found that letting myself be proud of all the good work I’m doing does a lot more than being upset when I have a setback. So, get your self-compassion on and find something that makes you feel good! The more you feel good, the more you’ll want to stick with your healthy eating goals, and you’ll create a cycle that facilitates living your best life.
Did any of these healthy eating hacks speak to you? Or maybe we missed your magical motivator? Let us know in the comments!
For More Ways To Embrace Health and Eating, Check Out: