Eating healthy is a key part to my living a healthy and happy life. I call it out in my life vision. I know what it means but struggle living it. The main culprit for me are bad habits I made part of my eating.
Bad habits. I wish I could flick a switch and make healthy eating happen. I’ve turned on that switch many times only to see it turn back off. I found some interesting research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on overcoming bad habits. It has made me better able understand and overcome bad habits.
The act of doing something enjoyable regularly tells our brains reward center that we must keep on doing it. That’s good for good behavior; bad news for bad behavior. Our brains release dopamine telling us to do more, more, more. My dopamine rewarded brain makes it difficult for me to break that habit.
The NIH offers good advice on breaking bad habits. I don’t see their tips as being pick one and run. Breaking habits is a multi-pronged animal. Each strategy helps the other strategies reward our brain for a good habit.
Avoiding bad situations
I am weak when choosing a healthy food over an unhealthy food. To overcome this, my grocery basket is now mostly fruits, vegetables, lower fats and carbs, higher fiber, and lean proteins. I clean and prep the fruit and veggies when I get home to make them a more convenient and appealing choice.
Replacing unhealthy behaviors
I reigned in snacking and poor meal choices. My diet is three main meals and three snacks spaced 2-3 hours apart. I try to eat fruits, vegetables, and healthy food for snacks. I measure and record my food intake to better understand it and be accountable.
Being mentally prepared
I cannot avoid situations that tempt me to eat badly. My family and friends gather and celebrate around food. My active life tends to include dining. I spend time beforehand determining the heathy choices I can make when presented with bad choices. I learn from my experience, often where I failed and made the wrong choice.
Growing a support network
I am fortunate that my husband supports my healthy eating. I am enrolled in OSU’s Living Well I knew myself well enough to know I needed a structured, accountable program to reset my healthy eating. I am happy with the program’s weekly support meetings, education, and accountability.
I am no different than one of Pavlov’s dogs. Being rewarded excites me. I set time-boxed goals in the OSU program that support my life vision. As a goals-based person, my reward is meeting and exceeding these goals. The falling number on the scale is my biggest reward.
I hope to return to this post in a year and see significant change in my eating. I want to see the strategies for avoiding bad eating as part of my day-to-day behavior. My healthy eating is more than the numbers on the scale. It’s having better heart heath, being more active, and having a healthy happy retirement embracing life to the fullest.