Practice listening to the signals your body is sending you each time you eat.
By reducing added sugars, eating at home more regularly (therefore reducing sodium, fats & sugars), eating a better breakfast & more greens, you have prepared your body to more accurately communicate with you.
At this point, you will still find yourself with cravings or habits that just seem to be inevitable and this is okay. It is actually necessary to have these in order to reprogram them.
Also, at this point, there is still some serious willpower involved in eating healthy. That is okay and is perfectly normal.
You are ready to create, what I feel is one of the more important habits and that is the reprogramming habit. This is a critical component in making eating healthy a more ‘automated’ habit.
Here is how you do this:
Every time you eat something, ask your body this question:
How did that food make me feel?”
Again, this will take effort to do at first, but over time you will be doing this automatically and subconsciously. It will become a habit and that is what you want.
Now, in the beginning when you eat something “bad” (let’s say chocolate cake), your brain will be telling you this is the best thing ever! That is just the old programmed reward talking. What you want to listen to is your body, because it will be telling you a different story.
It will take some time, but what will happen is, there will be one day that you will opt to not eat the chocolate cake. Not because of willpower, but because you now associate that cake with an uncomfortable feeling in your body, rather than a good one.
Depending on what you are reprogramming, it could take days, weeks, months or years to complete the reprogramming. But, it will happen.
We often use the example of Halloween candy because we used to pig out on Halloween candy. If it was in the house, we ate it. It took us about 3 years to reprogram ourselves away from that habit. (Of course, Halloween only comes around one time per year, so it was really not as bad as it sounds.)
I was eating really healthy, so when Halloween came, I let myself eat candy. After all, I was eating healthy the rest of the time. But, because of my new ‘reprogramming habit’….when I checked in with my body later, it told me loud and clear that I did not feel good. In fact, I felt lousy.
The next year, when Halloween came around, I ate candy, but more cautiously. And, sure enough, even though I only ate a few pieces, I still felt lousy.
By year three, I didn’t even want any candy. It had nothing to do with willpower. It was simply my body driving me to make a different choice. It was easy to leave that candy behind.
The key here is just to create this habit. Once it is created, it runs without you even having to think about it. That is eventually how you want all your healthy habits to be.
The ultimate goal is to create the habit of listening to your body’s feedback. Over time, the bad habits will start resolving themselves.
- Pay attention to: energy levels, sleepiness, sluggishness, aches, pains, headaches, laziness, happiness levels, fullness … all these things are little clues your body is giving you.
- Your body is always giving you feedback, pay attention to the good feedback and the bad.
- Remember, eating ice cream (just as an example) may give you some initial short-term “good” feeling. This is just in the brain. Your body will be sending different signals that you will notice 20-30 minutes after you eat the ice cream. I promise you this, your body does not like ice cream (your brain might, but not your body). Just start noticing that.
- If you drink a green smoothie or eat fresh, raw veggies, pay attention to how that makes you feel.