10 Strategies for Staying Motivated to Eat Healthy
May 14, 2019
(updated April 20, 2021)
Why is eating healthy important? There are certainly so many compelling reasons to eat healthily, and if you’re here reading this right now… I’m sure you know many of them and have your own personal reasons. So, finding the motivation to eat healthy is all around us, however, STAYING motivated is quite another story! Life creeps up, we default to old habits, and stress and temptation are always lurking. Not to mention the excessive nutrition and diet advice out there that can derail us from focusing and beating ourselves up to achieve the perfection that simply DOESN’T EXIST. What does exist and what is possible? The ability to create healthy lifestyle habits over time. That’s what sticks and that’s what’s do-able for the long haul so it’s a lifestyle and not a fad.
You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.” ~Unknown
In a recent webinar, I discussed 4 major pillars on how I support my clients constantly with these struggles and in this post, I’m breaking it down to 10 actionable steps anyone can take to create these healthy habits.
10 Strategies for Staying Motivated to Eat Healthy
START WITH YOUR “WHY”. This might sound like a throw-away, but it’s not. Ask yourself what a healthy lifestyle and healthy food does for you, your body, your relationships, your goals in life… DIG DEEP here and don’t stop until your jaw drops and you realize it’s much deeper than any surface-level story you might already be telling yourself. Then, write it down and keep it all over the place! In your medicine cabinet, on a mirror, on your phone, sticky notes on your laptop or kitchen cabinets — whatever it takes to keep it top of mind.
Add time to your calendar to prioritize grocery shopping, meal planning, and prepping. If you’re like me… if it’s not on my calendar, it’s not going to get done. I mean it! Use your calendar to time block and prioritize. This sets the intention to get these tasks done, while creating the space and time it will realistically take you.
Clean House. Don’t get frustrated with a messy, inefficient kitchen. A little Marie Kondo action never hurt anyone! Spend some time to clean and organize your kitchen and invest in time-saving tools to make you more efficient. Toss any triggers (like snacky items, etc.) that seem to derail you and honor if you simply can’t have them in the house at this point in time, it may not always be a trigger but call it out now if it is and chuck it.
Work smarter, not harder (+ save money where you can). A major blocker or perceived blocker can often time be MONEY. But the truth is, you can eat healthy on a budget. It’s also worth it in the long haul (see it as an investment in your health). Read my article for eating healthy on a budget for a ton of resources on where to shop and what to do in order to save more money. Commit to some budget tips to try so they can be your new norm and it gets you working smarter! Also – check out any grocery or pantry delivery services in your area to help you save on time as well, for the weeks where getting to the grocery store simply aren’t possible. Examples: Amazon Fresh or Instacart.
Crowd Out. Instead of staying so focused on what you can’t have… why not focus more on all the goodness you can have?! You can make a game out of it to “eat the rainbow” and get as many colorful fruits and veggies into your day as you can for example… vs. wishing for some of the donuts sitting in the break room that everyone is freaking out over! Enjoy nourishing your body with a positive attitude, flip the script, and most days it will be so helpful (not to mention, delish)! Need ideas on whole foods to crowd out with? Check out my grain-free swaps article here! Always opt for whole foods vs. processed, and read labels on everything to ensure the ingredients are simple and understandable to you.
Give Mindful Eating a chance! This has everything to do with you getting more in tune with your body’s cues and farther away from chasing diets. We are all so unique, no one diet will work for everyone all the time, it’s just not that simple. So practicing being more present with yourself both at meal times and while cooking by slowing down, breathing, and savoring to start — is a game changer (in fact, all my clients say so!) As another major benefit, it does wonders for your DIGESTION. Slowing down and breathing when you start your meal and chewing it well, means better nutrient absorption, less bloating, and more pleasurable experience. Do remember though, like all of these strategies, this is a PRACTICE, not an overnight learned tool! Be patient with yourself. I provide weekly mindful eating tips in my MINDFUL MEALS meal plan and prep guide – check that out here!
Need help? OWNIT. There’s no shame in delegating and asking for help, seriously. I’m sure you have plenty on your plate and when you’re overwhelmed, it’s all too easy to order takeout and eat poorly. Ask your family, friends, roomies for help with chores… can anyone take turns cooking with you or helping you prep? Are there some quick and healthy freezer meals you can have on hand? Figure out what will move the needle and be there to support you. If you know structure and plans are the best for you… I’ve got you right here, too. And never be scared to reach out for help with accountability! Whether from a friend with like-minded goals as you, or a practitioner.
JOURNAL IT OUT. If sensitivities are causing you major frustration and making you sick, the BEST thing you can do is to keep a food and mood journal. Document what you ate, when, how it made you feel (physically, mentally, emotionally = all are important). Try it for a week and review it at the end to see if something obvious is causing you harm. Experiment with ditching it for a while! This is free and better than any food sensitivity test, promise. Journal any reflections too! New things you tried, how it felt, and if you’d like to keep up with it. This is a learning process!
Enjoy snacks and desserts in moderation, not as a crutch. I’ve got plenty of healthy and allergen-friendly dessert recipes on here and in my Mindful Meals book. Have fun making 1 or 2 a week to look forward to. Always prioritize whole food snacks above processed (yes, even the “health bars”) and if you do have a processed snack… be sure to read the labels, as with all your food. The less sugar and questionable ingredients, the better.
Bring JOY into your cooking and your journey. You could let these tips become just another chore, or you could bring a positive outlook to everything and break these out into small, attainable chunks to try so that overtime… they add up (and that’s what I’d highly recommend doing). When you’re meal prepping and cooking, play some awesome tunes to make it more fun… if you get bored and don’t love doing it alone… call up a friend and catch up on speaker phone. You can make it a recurring date and knock out so many birds with one stone! Whatever you think will help to make this something to look forward to rather than dread… it’s worth a shot, baby!
I hope these tips have been helpful for you to stay motivated! Remember to be kind to yourself, there is no such thing as perfection. Enjoy the process and journey, learn from it, and KEEP GOING!