One of the biggest obstacles I see to people adopting a healthy lifestyle is that it is so hard to give up the many unhealthy habits they have picked up along the way. It is hard to picture a life without junk food, disposable plastics, chemical laden cleaners and toiletries, or whatever your vision of a healthy lifestyle entails.
I think that for our family, one of the things that has made the changes so much easier for us is that we rarely look at our changes as giving up. We almost always look at our choices as adding in, or replacing a habit. As I’ve said before, our first healthy lifestyle change was to add in a salad at dinner every night. We didn’t give up any other foods to add in that salad, but we were very careful to always have a salad with dinner. Even if we ate frozen pizza for dinner, we ate a salad with it. This was a small change, but it was one that we could do. Even if we had a bagged salad because we didn’t have time that day/week/month to cut up veggies, we were careful to have our salad! It really wasn’t hard once we got going with it. We learned all sorts of fun things that we could add to lettuce to keep it interesting. We didn’t worry at the time about organic, or gmo, sugar content, fat content – nothing but adding in that serving of raw fruits and veggies to our day. And it worked! Both my husband and I – the only ones in our family at the time – got healthier. We both stuck to it. It even improved our relationship to have a goal that we were working at together. And that one small addition was such a catalyst for change in our lives that we could have never predicted at the time.
Over the years since then, I’ve seen and heard many a tale about how people want to be healthier, eat better, feel better, etc, but it is just so overwhelming thinking about overhauling their entire diet, routine, etc. The secret is not to overhaul your routine, diet, or whatever, but to simply ADD IN one healthy habit. Once you have got that habit mastered, and you feel good about it, just add in another!
One of the places where this has a huge impact is diet. Adding in one healthy dietary habit can change so much in your life that you don’t even realize. Some ideas of things to add in are:
*Make sure to eat 5 – 8 servings of fruit and veggies per day.
*Eat a serving of fruits and veggies at every meal.
*Eat a snack of fruit or veggies first before reaching for a sweet or salty snack.
*Eat a salad with dinner every night.
*Eat nuts or trail mix as a snack first, before reaching for a less healthy snack.
*Try out a new healthy food every week. If you like it, you’ve added something new! If you don’t, you aren’t committed to eating it again.
*Have a meatless dinner night once a week.
*Commit to making a meal plan or menu every week, two weeks, or month.
*Replace part of your white flour with whole grain flour when baking.
*Replace a white flour product with a whole grain alternative. Not all whole wheat products have the consistency of typical whole wheat. Try some new things and see what you like or don’t like!
*Learn to cook from scratch, if you don’t know how to already. Commit to making one meal a week from scratch. Or, learn to make your favorite meal from scratch.
There are many other habits that can fall under this category. Just pick one and start today!
What will you change today?