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Changing Health Habits for the Better

In our recent Ask the Wellness Coach post, we addressed the question, “How can I break bad eating habits?” We discussed the importance of small changes and self-compassion, and today we’re talking more about what’s helpful–and what’s not–when it comes to behavior change.

This post was written by Hannah Yates, a dietetic intern at Missouri State University. Hannah will complete her internship in May of 2020 and will then be eligible to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

It may seem overwhelming to even think about making a change. Many times, we might be stuck thinking about how difficult it would be to begin a new healthy habit. We get comfortable with our routine and it’s uncomfortable to make changes to that. So how do we ever make the step?

The answer is to start small. Even miniscule. Perhaps you drink four cans of soda every day. This week, pick one day and replace one soda with water. Or maybe you’d prefer a tea instead. Next week, pick two days and replace one soda with water. After a while, four cans of soda a day has turned into two. The most important thing to remember, even though it’s commonly said – it’s about progress, not perfection. Missed your glass of water and had the soda instead? That’s okay! Try again next time.

All we can do when it comes to nutrition is to try our best and remember that we’re all imperfect. A total overhaul of our lifestyle and diet is bound to be overwhelming and quickly can become unsustainable to us. Many times, we may only be able to handle that large change for a short period of time, then end up reverting into old behaviors. It may even cause us to backtrack and discontinue good habits we had created in the past. This can cause feelings of failure which can be really damaging to our mental health! By keeping changes small, we’re able to put less mental effort into making changes and it’s much more likely to stick in the long run.

Here are some ideas of small changes to make this week:

  1. Add one new vegetable to your grocery list

  2. Take a short walk after dinner

  3. Drink an extra glass of water

  4. Try a new fruit (or any fruit!) with breakfast

  5. Choose whole wheat bread for one sandwich this week

  6. Take a stretch break

  7. Read the nutrition label on one item before you purchase it

  8. Try a new way to season your food

  9. Take a three minute breathing break if you’re feeling stressed

  10. Find one thing you’re grateful for each day

And for more related information, check out THIS POST on setting goals.

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