On the face of it, eating healthy should be a pretty easy to goal to accomplish; the benefits have been firmly established so skepticism about whether this actually contributes to our well-being is an unlikely stumbling block. So, if we know we should eat healthy, and we want to, what is the problem? Well, there are quite a few, from deeply ingrained bad habits to lack of a clear plan to change our junk-food loving ways. To improve our diet, we need to make better decisions that move us closer towards our goal of living a healthier lifestyle. To make better decisions, we have to develop a certain state of mind. A healthy diet starts with a healthy mind, and here are just a few helpful tips for getting things right upstairs.
Stress Reduction as Priority Number One
Stress messes with our healthy eating goals in numerous ways. On the physical front, it produces all sorts of changes in the body that increase our cravings for unhealthy foods, namely refined carbohydrates and sugars. But, the real problem is the effects on our state of mind. When we feel stressed, we have a harder time making healthy decisions. It triggers episodes of emotional eating, and most of us aren’t reaching for a bag of carrots, to soothe the unpleasantness. We feel more pessimistic about our efforts to eat better, and just be healthier in general; and consistently feeling high levels of stress can really lead our efforts astray. When we bring stress under control, our whole outlook changes. We feel more motivated to eat better; we are feeling good, and we are inclined to continue making decisions that keep us feeling that way. Choosing healthy foods over unhealthy ones does not seem as difficult a decision; we don’t feel like we are depriving ourselves or sacrificing. So, if you are serious about changing your diet, you need to get serious about tackling stress, one of the biggest barriers to making healthy changes.
It seems meditation is being recommended for everything these days, and it makes pretty good sense. Meditation helps us strengthen our minds, reduce stress, gain a more positive perspective on life, notice thoughts but not react automatically, and allows us to get comfortable with uncomfortable feelings—which keeps us from making poor choices in that overwhelming desire to feel better instantly. That last point in particular can really help curb emotional eating and giving into cravings on a regular basis. Some research suggests it may be a valuable tool in improving our eating habits. A review of 14 studies that looked at mindfulness meditation as a primary treatment for binge eating ,emotional eating and weight loss, that appeared in the journal Eating Behaviors in April 2014, found mindfulness meditation was effective in reducing binge eating and emotional eating. A small study out of the University of California San Francisco in 2013 compared the effects of meditation and mindful eating against a control group (both received training on diet and exercise), and found the experimental group maintained their weight, and experienced a drop in cortisol levels ( high levels of which indicate being stressed), while participants in the control group gained weight and did not achieve this drop in the stress hormone.
Start Viewing Yourself in a More Positive Light and Be Forgiving
Work on seeing yourself in a different way. Your eating habits are borne of the mind, not some unchangeable aspect woven into your DNA. You can become a healthy eater, no matter what your diet has been like up until this point. Tell yourself this frequently, and you will see yourself transform over time. Be forgiving when you slip up—eating healthy is not about being perfect. Don’t berate yourself, just vow to do better. Before you know it, healthy eating will come naturally to you. If you can follow these three tips, you are well on your way to creating a state of mind that supports healthy diet choices, and you will be amazed at how much easier the process becomes.