When it comes to nutrition we are all exposed to so much diet culture information in our day-to-day lives. Social media is filled with people on extreme diet plans, pushing detoxes and cleanses, and preaching restrictions. We may not even realize the impact that instagram, facebook, magazines, tik tok, movies, tv, etc. have on our mindsets towards food. Establishing a healthy mindset toward health and wellness is always the best path to long-term success, so I’ve detailed my top tips for changing your mindset and setting yourself up for positive change!
1) Know Your Why!
Before you ever decide to go on a journey, whether it be fitness, nutrition, or a new career, it’s important to understand WHY you have decided you need a change. With nutrition the “why factor” is often questionable. If you want to make a lifestyle change that will better you in the long run, your why must be a positive one. This is often the biggest mistake made when it comes to diet, though. Many people will opt to change their diet solely because they want to lose weight. Their reason for weight loss is often to “look better”, “not be fat”, “get a romantic partner”, “love myself.” Just looking at these reasons written down, you can see how they are negative reasons and are inspired by the need for others' approval, when the only approval you need is your own.
When you start off a journey already negative about the reason and results, you are not setting yourself up for the easiest of journeys.
So think about exactly why weight loss or making dietary changes is important to you. Take other people out of the equation, and make sure it’s a path you are choosing for yourself. Some great reasons for making change are:
To be more alert and energetic
To feel stronger and healthier
To reduce risk of high cholesterol/disease
To be able to be more active
To show myself love and care
These are just a few reasons where you are approaching nutrition solely for yourself. Do it because you love yourself and want the best life you can have. You can lose all the weight you want and still feel negatively about yourself, so a change in perspective and be very helpful! Know how amazing you are and that you deserve to have the happiest and healthiest of lives!
2) Take Advice and Guidance With a Grain of Salt
This is also of the utmost importance! As I already mentioned, and I frequently discuss, there is a surplus of false information out there. Most of us decide to take fitness and nutrition advice from those we see online with huge followings, or the advice written on a colorful instagram post or pinterest image. Remember that none of that is regulated and people can write and say whatever they want without any science to back it up. This is key with online influencers, because you’ll see some with millions of followers, and think they must be providing knowledgeable information, but in reality they have not studied any of the information they are putting out. They could be misinforming you about nutrition goals and still sound confident. So make sure the advice you take is from those with the education to back it up.
If you come across advice that is heavily restricted and filled with fear mongering, AVOID IT! Look for registered dieticians, practicing medical doctors, and those who have proper certifications. Know that if it feels restrictive and overwhelming, it's probably a bad path! Remember our journey needs to be a positive one, and eliminating every food you love is incredibly negative!
3) Find Balance
You must aim to approach balance in 2 ways, balanced meals and a balanced mindset towards food. When balancing meals, remember you don’t need to eliminate entire food groups or cut out foods you love. You can find a balance that allows you to eat whatever you want but practice a healthy level of moderation. Finding a nutrition coach or registered dietician can really help you get there, and ensure you are getting adequate protein, carbs and fats in your diet without overdoing anything.
Equally as important is the balanced mindset towards food. Again you don’t need to eliminate everything and cut down to 1200 calories to lose weight or to be healthier. Being prepared that dietary changes take time to become habits and practicing patience can really help you to not feel the highs and lows that can come with any lifestyle change.
4) Reduce Negative Talk
If you are someone who spends a lot of time putting yourself down, it's time to work to quit that habit! It is scientifically studied that those who practice negative talk end up with an overall negative mindset that limits progress and productivity. If you are spending every day convincing yourself you can’t succeed, you probably won't! So cut the negative talk! Instead of saying “I’ll never be able to eat a healthy balanced diet,” tell yourself “I’m going to work towards change and be patient!” Remember you are your biggest cheerleader and should approach change as a way to continue loving yourself!
5) Be Patient
Remember that habits take time to form. You may spend weeks or months having to remind yourself to not skip meals or to resist the urge to eat fast food for every meal. Change doesn’t just happen, but with practice, a habit is formed and it becomes easier and easier to follow through with a healthier nutrition plan.
If one of your goals is weight loss, patience is also key. With all the diet culture misinformation, we are often convinced that we should be able to lose 10 pound in a week. If you’ve ever stood in a grocery store checkout line, you'll see magazines preaching the same thing. The reality is that it is not recommended to lose weight that quickly unless in severe morbidly obese cases. In general 0.5-2 pounds a week is the recommended amount of weight to lose in a week with 1 pound being the standard. Knowing ahead of time that you can’t drop that extra 20 pounds in a month, will stop yourself from setting unrealistic goals that could upset you later! Remember it’s about the long haul and keeping the weight off long term and not just getting it off quickly.
Fast weight loss is often just loss of water weight and returns quickly! So let's work to set a health goal and give yourself the time to reach it!
6) Have Flexibility
Be prepared to make changes when you find something doesn’t work for you. Finding a diet that works for your specific body is a science. That’s why it can be so helpful to have someone who can offer advice like a nutritionist or registered dietician. They can help you navigate through and find what will be best for your body. You could be within all the standard guidelines and eating a healthy amount of calories and still find you are not feeling your best and need some changes. You may also have some food sensitivities and need to find good alternatives that don’t bother your stomach. There are so many factors and knowing that you may have to be flexible from day 1 can make sure you are not as frustrated with the process later.
7) Be Realistic in Goals and Establish Ways to Give Yourself Positive Feedback
There is nothing wrong with establishing your limits and knowing what won’t work for you! Along with knowing how much weight loss is possible, if that is a goal for you, know what else is a healthy goal. If you know certain foods make you sick to even look at, don’t make it a goal to eat foods that make you literally sick!
If you know you are working 100 hour weeks, don’t commit to meal prepping 5 hours a week and trying new recipes. Instead find simple meals you can make quickly or perhaps order meals from a local meal delivery service. If you have the money and have limited time, these companies can prepare high quality food with your specifications for taste, and deliver them to your home. All you have to do is warm them up!
And don’t forget to offer yourself praise along the way! Sometimes journaling is a great way to keep track of progress. You can write about how you feel. How your energy is, etc. Then your journey becomes more focused on continuing to build you up and support a self love path!
So before starting on a nutrition journey, take some time to think about the process and get yourself in a healthy mindset towards change. It should be exciting and not a daunting task, and no matter what, your self worth should not be tied to the process. Regardless of how long it takes and how many revisions you make, you should continue to love yourself along the way and be proud of who you are!
Until next time… and remember balanced nutrition is for all!