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10 ways to stick to your healthy eating intentions in 2021

It helps to have confidence, persistence and a plan

If you’re like many people, you might consider the New Year to be an opportunity for a clean slate: to eat more healthy foods, to feel more energetic and/or to shed excess weight. Instead of setting a resolution, set an intention. Resolutions are proven to fail because they’re not concrete action items, whereas an intention is an achievable task that, over time, will lead to visible results.

Now comes the hard part: sticking to your intention.

How successful you’ll be depends on how you approach it.

The following strategies can help you turn your healthy eating intentions into action—and stay motivated along the way.

  1. Make it a priority. To be successful, you must truly want to make a change. Whether it’s to eat more fruits and veggies, follow a plant-based diet or reduce your sugar intake, it must be among your highest priorities. Why bother setting an intention if you’re not truly committed?

You need to “own” your intention—the objective should be for you, and only you. You’ll be less likely to make change stick if you set intentions to please other people.

  1. Write it down. Put your intention in a prominent place—on your desk, on the fridge, in your smartphone, or as your screensaver. Written goals serve as your contract; they remind you of your commitment, provide focus, and help keep you on track. Every time you see them, you’ll be inspired to keep going, despite setbacks.
  2. Be specific. Successful intentions state, in specific terms, what you want to achieve. Instead of saying “I will eat healthier”, spell out precisely how you are going to do that. Will you include vegetables at lunch and dinner each day? Eat breakfast each morning? Limit desserts to once per week? Think about an item that you can check off, to prove to yourself that you’ve accomplished it.
  3. Break it down. Instead of setting lofty goals to transform your diet and your body—or committing to do too many things at once—start small. Research suggests that making gradual changes, and letting your brain adapt to one of them at a time, is the best way to change your eating habits over the long-term.

Setting bite-size tasks boosts self-confidence and motivation because they’re easier (and quicker) to achieve. Instead of making a goal to “lose weight,” set an intention to eat a healthy snack on Friday night instead of chips. One small change each week will help you slowly build successful new habits.

  1. Plan in advance. Whether your plan is to cook healthy meals on weeknights instead of ordering takeout or to only have a glass of wine on the weekend, neither will happen if you’re not organized. On the weekend, spend a few minutes thinking about the week ahead. Map out your meals. Set aside time to do a proper grocery shop. Buy sparkling water and lemon to sip while watching TV during the week.
  2. Chart your progress. The more monitoring you do—and feedback you get—the better you’ll do. Keep a daily food diary. Check off on a calendar every day you eat an apple. Tracking your progress provides awareness, focus and motivation.
  3. Anticipate roadblocks. There are bound to be glitches along the way. However, you can make change easier by making a list of potential obstacles—having junk food in the house, grocery shopping on an empty stomach, sleeping in late, skipping breakfast, and so on. Identifying trouble spots makes it easier to make a plan to avoid them.
  4. Don’t expect to be perfect. All-or-nothing thinking is a detriment to success. Rather than beating yourself up, allow yourself to lapse occasionally. You’ll be much more likely to pick up where you left off.
  5. Focus on the positive. Instead of dwelling on the sacrifices, focus on the positive changes your intentions have created, like healthier eating habits, improvements in your mood, and increased energy.
  6. Follow up with yourself. Every time you make a positive change related to your intention, reward yourself with a non-food treat (positive self talk, share the news with a friend, have a bubble bath, relax with a good book). Even once your jeans are loose or your cholesterol number is in the healthy range, continue your healthy habits—ideally, for life.

To learn more about Medcan’s Nutrition programs, click here, email [email protected] or contact us at 416.350.5900.

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