If you have decided to start a healthy eating plan, congratulations! Making that decision is an important step in becoming a healthier person.
When you're trying to form new habits, you have a better chance of success if you make a plan ahead of time. Following these steps can help you set up a plan for healthy eating that will work for you.
Have your own reason.
- Your reason for healthy eating is really important. You are more likely to have success if you do it because you want to, not because someone else wants you to.
- What makes you want to change how you eat? Writing down your reasons will be a good reminder later on if you get discouraged.
Set goals you can reach.
- Long-term goals are goals that you want to reach in 6 to 12 months. A long-term goal might be to eat seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Short-term goals are the steps that will help you reach your long-term goal. Short-term goals are things that you want to do tomorrow and the day after.
Here are some examples:
- A long-term goal might be to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Your first small goal might be to eat one serving of fruit at breakfast each day this week.
- As soon as you've reached that goal, you can set a new one by adding a serving of fruits or vegetables to your lunch of dinner. Or you could try eating a piece of fruit as a snack every day.
Write down your goals, and hang them up where you can see them. This will remind you of what you're trying to do.
Keep track of your progress.
Keeping track of your progress helps you see how far you've come. You could use a notebook, a journal, a calendar, or an app on your smartphone to keep track of your eating. Look this over if you start to doubt yourself or feel discouraged. It can help motivate you to do more. And it can help encourage you if you get off track.
Every time you meet a goal, reward yourself. See a movie, buy a new book, or do something else you love.
Prepare for slip-ups.
It's perfectly normal to try to change a habit, go along fine for a while, and then have a setback. Take the time to think about what things could get in the way of your success. We call these things barriers.
What are the things that might cause a setback for you? If you've tried to make lifestyle changes before, think about what helped you and what got in your way.
By thinking about these barriers now, you'll be better prepared to deal with them if they happen. It might help to make a list of your barriers and your plans to get past those barriers.
The more support you have, the easier it will be to change your eating habits. It can help to:
- Get a partner. It will motivate you to know that your partner is doing the same thing and may be counting on you to help him or her succeed. That person can also remind you how far you've come.
- Get friends and family involved. Don't be afraid to tell them that their encouragement makes a big difference to you.
- Give yourself positive reinforcement. When you feel like giving up, don't waste energy feeling bad about yourself. Remember your reason for wanting to change, think about the progress you've made, and give yourself a pep talk and a pat on the back.
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