Have you ever decided to give up popcorn at the movies and ended up with candy instead? Or gone grocery shopping with a grocery list full of healthy foods and come home with a pile of junk food snacks that you added on? Tried and failed to stop adding dessert to every meal? And think about all those New Year’s resolutions….
If you have a lot of eating habits you want to change in your life, especially on the way to a healthier lifestyle, do not just dive in and try to do everything at once. That guarantees failure for all but a few supermen. Even if you have seen those miracle stories about “all you have to do is….” Those aren’t for normal human beings.
We aren’t built to do it that way. In the real world, life keeps nudging you along, aided by all those tempting advertisements. We respond to nudges. We climb molehills and mostly avoid mountains. We push back against shoves.
So the secret is really figuring out the nudges that will turn all those unobtainable mountains into a series of little molehills. The secret is baby steps. Like the following ways to help you change to healthier snacks.
Concentrate on the good parts
When you plan on changes, keep it positive. You don’t want a “I won’t do that” list or “I will stop that” list. You want a “I will do” list. “I will eat healthier snacks.”
Choose the right cheering section
Use the type of motivation that works best for you. If you get more motivated when it is a group effort, find a friend or a group who is also adapting a new diet, and compare your progress. If you do better when scoring yourself, use that method.
Choose the right map
If it is hard for you to decide which one part of “healthier snacks” to start with, list all your smaller goals that will lead you to the prize and prioritize them. Start with the easiest ones first.
Watch your location
Track your progress. Use a scoring system so you can see your scores going up as you get better. Compare your progress to your final goal.
Choose a climbable mountain
“I will eat healthier” is admirable. But that usually means changing all 3 meals, plus snacks, plus fast food stops, plus restaurant meals and on and on. Narrow it down. Make it realistic. “I will eat healthier snacks” is something you can work on.
Have the right equipment
Do not stock unhealthy food in your home, and make sure you have healthy food on hand at all times – both snacks and main meals. (That keeps you from using an unhealthy meal as a substitute for an unhealthy snack, too.)
Check the main trail
You have probably read all the miracle diets, the great things that happened to other people. They didn’t work for you. (If they did, you wouldn’t be reading this.) So figure out any parts that seemed to work for you, or almost work for you, and use that as your starting point. Substituting carrots for all your snacks probably isn’t the way to go for you. Feel free to throw out any methods that don’t sound reasonable, even if “everyone” is doing it that way.
Find alternate routes
“Stop all snacks” may be unrealistic for you, especially at the beginning. You probably just want to change them so they are healthier.
Take baby steps
Work on one smaller goal at a time, and make that goal a baby step on your way to the final goal. It should be easy to reach. If not, break it into even smaller steps.
Take things slow
Work on one small step per month. At the end of the month, if you nailed it, go to the next step. If you’re not there yet, keep aiming to finish this step. As long as you make some progress, you are doing just fine.
Watch your timing
If you eat something you shouldn’t at the same time each day, take a walk or drink herbal tea at that time instead. Break the time pattern of your habit.
Walk at your own pace
Use steps that fit your own personal progress size. If you are working on giving up a bagel with cream cheese, and it is really difficult to do that, start eating less of it each week – maybe just half a bite less – and substitute something healthy for the rest, so you feel equally full. At the beginning that might mean just a half bite of a carrot to stand in for that half bite of bagel you gave up.
Keep substitutes close
Instead of stopping for fast food, carry healthy snacks and eat them instead when you get that fast food craving.
Go for the little wins
If you like Overnight Oats and find it easy to eat instead of that bagel with cream cheese you were having for breakfast, that is a big win for you.