In all the busy-ness of December, I had gotten in the habit of visiting Chick-fil-A pretty regularly for french fries.  I decided that I needed to curtail this habit and cut out fried foods.  To help overcome my desire to eat Chick-fil-A fries, I started buying frozen French fries to bake at home at least once a week.  It still takes willpower to bypass them, but it definitely helps knowing that I have a healthier alternative in the freezer.

When you re-assess your diet, do you find that you are eating too much packaged/processed food?  Too much sugar?  Fried food?  Alcohol?  Pick only one target area at a time.  Create a plan and stick to it.  Even though you may want to make huge, far reaching changes, it’s best to start small and build on that success with another small change.  Tackling one new habit at a time builds up your willpower muscle more efficiently than going for broke and losing it all.

Instead of managing your intake from a restrictive point of view, however, keep in mind the foods you need to consume before the items you are trying to minimize. For example, if you need to reduce your sugar consumption, before eating anything with sugar make sure you’ve had at least 3 large servings of Checklistvegetables, 3 whole fruits, and at least 3 large glasses of water.  Make up your own parameters but stick to them for a few weeks.  After a few weeks, a new habit is easier to maintain, and you’ll be able to tell a difference in how you are feeling.  Check out this Spring Cleaning post for more discussion on the checklist mentality for filling yourself with good foods.

If it’s sugar you are targeting, check out Strategies for Sugar Cravings for help with reducing sugar intake.

If you’re interested in further reading on habits and willpower, check out one of these

  • The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal PhD
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

While you are making these changes, be gentle with yourself.  Know that you’ll be focusing your willpower on making healthier choices and will need to modify your environment to help.  Here are a few tips:

  • Do not have the foods you are limiting accessible (or at least not in your home)
  • Stock your refrigerator and pantry with lots of fresh veggies, fruits, bean salads, and starches.  The more choices you have, the easier it will be to stick to your plan.
  • Plan your meals and snacks at the start of the week and prep as much of the food as needed over the weekend (check out Saving Time, Perhaps It’s the Why, and The Return to Reality for more discussion on prepping meals in advance)
  • Identify a cheerleader or an accountability partner who will help you stay focused when the going gets tough (or message me in the comments and I’ll be glad to do so!)