Instead of starting the year by researching the latest weight loss and diet fads, focus on establishing life skills (the missing link between healthy eating and maintaining a sustainable healthy lifestyle) – SELF AWARENESS, ORGANIZATION, FLEXIBILITY, and RELATIONSHIP. You don’t need to follow strict rules or undergo a restrictive diet program to lose weight and improve your overall health, only to regain everything after the holidays or a long break. Develop sustainable and realistic healthy eating guidelines that match your food preference to achieve satisfaction, are compatible with your daily activities, and are suited to your age, body type, and genes so you can achieve your health goals.
SELF-AWARENESS: Know more about your health and body
- Set your goals and get a basic health check to become more aware of your current health status. Get pertinent information from health professionals about healthy eating that is best for your health and body type so you can achieve your goals. You might need to lessen your meat consumption and increase more foods containing fiber in your diet to lower your bad cholesterol or you might need to control your food portions to lose weight.
- Be an expert about knowing yourself and your lifestyle to achieve balance. Write everything down in your lifestyle journal, analyze daily inputs until you can identify your eating pattern, and create a solid game plan for healthy eating.
- These include noting the following; Time of eating, place of eating, amount and quality of food, reasons for eating (hunger, craving, habit, boredom, availability, stress, joy, or for energy), eating behavior (slow or fast, while doing something or just mindfully focusing on eating), physical activities, and sleep
- Be responsible in educating yourself by consulting with a nutritionist, lifestyle coach, or a health professional experienced and skilled in helping clients balance lifestyles. Know the latest studies from peer-reviewed journals to get updated on what’s new and effective about healthy eating that will guide you in creating a good balance in your lifestyle, knowing the best time to eat to regulate your hunger all throughout the day, and the best amount and type of food for your health and fitness performance.
ORGANIZATION: Make healthy foods always available
- Manage your time well and make effort to buy, prepare, and cook healthy foods at home. Create a healthy eating checklist that matches your goals, food preference, and lifestyle. Foods that can give you energy, improve your gut health, and heal your body that you need to buy regularly are whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, poultry, fish, dairy, and lean meat.
- Know which foods you need to eliminate or lessen in your kitchen such as ultra-processed foods (sausage, bacon, hotdog, chips, soft drinks, and sweet or savory snacks with added preservatives, sugar, and flavoring).
- Plan your nutritious and satisfying meals and snacks for the week and create balance and variety so you don’t get to feel deprived. Always have a plan even when it comes to eating out and/or ordering restaurant meals like staying away from heavy carb, creamy and deep-fried foods and choosing grilled, steamed, and boiled foods with lots of vegetables.
- Always make emergency foods available in case you get hungry during the day such as fruits, nuts and seeds, boiled corn, and sweet potato.
- Reinforce your healthy eating behaviors and accomplishments (like eating more vegetables and avoiding deep-fried and sugary foods) by giving yourself experiential (spa, salon, or movie) rewards that can nourish your mind and body.
FLEXIBILITY and POSITIVE THINKING: Know how to eat in moderation and adapt to changes while keeping a positive attitude
- Prevent overeating by effectively spacing your meals well after every 3 to 4 hours, depending on your activities (schedule, duration, and intensity) and sleep time. You can experience hunger more if you have a faster metabolism. Eat your biggest meals during the earlier part of the day (breakfast or lunch) to avoid heavy dinners and late-night eating that can affect your sleep.
- Occasionally give in to your cravings so you can enjoy food and life. Identify the best time to eat your treat foods (ideally right after a full meal so you can control the portion) and when to stop by listening to your body and observing your fullness and satisfaction. Eat anything but in moderation. Don’t be afraid to eat rice, sweets, and chips. Trust yourself that you can always choose to be in control of food.
- Develop a positive attitude, not allowing your failures to pull you down. You can restart at any time of the day.
- Have a good relationship with food by eating mindfully, savoring every bite, and appreciating and thinking about the best benefits it can give your mind, body, and soul.
- Apply problem-solving. Use your strengths and weaknesses to resolve current issues. Analyze what could possibly go wrong. Learn from your mistakes in the past to become better. A slow and quiet afternoon can always trigger unhealthy snacking, so think of ways to distract yourself by doing more productive things such as exercising, creating a new project, or doing chores and errands.
- Be prepared to adapt and have alternative plans and solutions for sudden changes and unexpected circumstances. If a workout session gets canceled (due to weather or unavailability of an instructor), then think of ways to get yourself moving even while at home. Use your exercise equipment, do bodyweight exercises or choose from available YouTube workouts.
RELATIONSHIP SKILLS: Consider the people around you by asking for support when needed and asserting yourself in high-risk social situations
- Communicate with the most important people who can genuinely support you in your healthy lifestyle journey, such as your health coach, spouse, parents, sister, best friend, or children. They can help you start and sustain healthy eating by understanding and knowing your needs, like preparing healthy foods at home, avoiding late-night eating, and lessening the frequency of eating restaurant foods.
- Know how to politely say NO to people who can encourage you to eat or drink more during social gatherings.
- Be the person who can inspire others to start healthy living by being a role model. Everything starts at home with your family.
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