I hope you enjoyed the recent guest post written by Dr. Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD about how to motivate yourself to eat right. Dr. Ellen is the founder of SmashYourScale.com and the author of The Diabetic and The Dietitian: How to Help Your Husband Defeat Diabetes…Without Losing Your Mind or Marriage! which was published earlier this week. In today’s post, Dr. Ellen goes a little deeper into her discussion about motivation and provides three powerful secrets to help you get on track with eating a healthier diet.
Motivate Yourself to Eat Right – part two
by Dr. Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD
In my last post Motivate Yourself to Eat Right I revealed the surprising truth about motivation: While we tend to think the “carrot and stick” approach is better at influencing behavior, engaging in an activity because it’s fun, interesting, rewarding, challenging and makes us feel in control is much more powerful.
In my 20 years of practice, I’ve discovered three powerful, yet simple secrets to motivate yourself to eat right: Make healthy eating pleasurable, make it social and practice self-compassion.
Make Healthy Eating Pleasurable
It’s time to ditch your negative thoughts and beliefs around healthy eating. Forget that your mother made you finish your fish and vegetables before dessert. Erase your nasty experience with the Cabbage Soup Diet, yuck! Dislike vegetables? Try a new way of cooking/using them. My husband Michael hates vegetables. But he loves raw broccoli dipped in hummus for a snack. Get creative!
Eating healthy can be fun and flavorful! Just look at the recipes on Barbara’s website. I love her Poached Egg and Avocado on Toast and the Quinoa and Bean Chili is quick, simple and so good my fussy 14-year-old inhales it.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, cooking nourishing meals at home will save money… and your health, which is priceless.
Hate to cook? Another false belief you need to dump down the disposal. Our social, media and economic systems encourage unhealthy eating and cooking illiteracy by portraying meal prep as a “burden” in an effort to get the majority of us to eat prepared, processed food, which are more profitable for manufacturers instead of cooking fresh meals with healthy, nutrient packed, fresh ingredients. If you let it, cooking can be fun, engaging and even a bit magical. After all, when cooking and eating, just like making love, you use all your senses —sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
If you can read this post, you can cook. Set an intention to improve your healthy cooking skills. Start with simple, easy recipes that interest you and enjoy yourself. As your skill level increases your anxiety around cooking will decrease, and you’ll boost mastery, autonomy and purpose. Soon, you’ll be throwing dinner parties and for your friends, which brings me to my next tip.
Tell everyone you know—friends, lovers, neighbors, your hairdresser and your boss— about your healthy eating goal. Publicly commit… helps an intention stick! Tell people specifically how they can help you. For example, I had one client who couldn’t fill up his car without buying junk food at the Quickie Mart. I suggested he ask his wife to fill up the car for him. Chip addiction… crushed!
Post goals and intentions on your social sites. Consider joining an online group for additional support. There are thousands of groups related to healthy eating. Introduce yourself. State your goals. Connect. Make friends. Help and support others as they help you. These powerful doses of meaning and purpose will keep you motivated and on the highway to health transformation.
Practicing self-compassion, essentially treating yourself like a good friend, will help you change your eating habits and life. Research shows self-compassion can help you engage in healthier behaviors including sticking to your weight-loss goals, exercising, quitting smoking and going to the doctor when needed.
With self-compassion you’ll start to eat right because you care about your body and yourself. Self-compassion will also help you regulate your emotions, so you’ll be less likely to stuff your feelings and comfort yourself by eating. And when you do slip up (you’re just human, after all), research shows self-compassion can help you accept your personal failure and get back on track. Plus, self-compassion increases optimism and wellbeing while lowering stress.
One of the key elements of self-compassion is self-kindness rather than self-criticism. While we all have a critical voice that tells us things like “I eat too much,” “I don’t exercise enough,” or “I should work harder” … this negative, inner voice is not a good motivator. Our critical voice doesn’t move us forward. It makes us feel bad about ourselves, especially when we fail to meet a goal. This internal criticism leaves us feeling bad, sad and depressed… which can send you right back into a negative down cycle, searching for solace, leading to emotional overeating. Don’t listen to that negative, inner voice! Remember, you are in control. The more you care about, listen to and accept your body the more motivated and better able you’ll be to stick with your healthy eating goals.
Time to ditch the excuses, evasions and media generated false hope of fast food, fat and salt saturated “instant” microwave meals and chemically “enhanced” processed pabulum. It’s a new day, with a new way. Have fun, involve others, and be kind to yourself.
Dr. Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD is a Psychologist, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach. Dr. Ellen is the founder of SmashYourScale.com and the author of The Diabetic and The Dietitian: How to Help Your Husband Defeat Diabetes…Without Losing Your Mind or Marriage!
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