10 Tips for Staying Motivated to Eat Healthy
So, you've committed to eating healthy, you're buying healthier foods and ingredients, you're preparing and enjoying healthier meals, but now what? How do you stay motivated to keep eating healthy long term and make it part of your lifestyle? Here are a few tips that will definitely keep your motivation levels high and guarantee you'll still be eating well and supporting your healthy lifestyle years from now.
Start with your "why"
What does maintaining a healthy lifestyle and food choices mean to you? Why are you making these choices? Is it for your body, your family, your long-term goals? Figure out your why and write it down, maybe keeping it on sticky notes in places you see everyday - on your mirror, your phone, in your car, at your desk. Reminding yourself of your "why" is the first step to staying motivated to maintain your healthy eating habits.
Focus on foods you love
Forcing yourself to eat healthy foods that you really don't like, especially after you've tried preparing them different ways, is no fun and definitely going to leave you unmotivated to eat healthy if you are not looking forward to your meal. If you don't like a certain food, that's okay, move on, and focus on the healthy foods that you do love. Try cooking or preparing them in a variety of ways in different dishes with different flavours, so that you're not eating the same meal too often.
Keep it simple
This is one of the first things I always tell my clients - healthy eating does not have to be complicated. Keep it simple. Focus on good quality proteins (lean meats, fish, eggs, tofu, tempeh, beans and lentils), fibre (fruits and vegetables), healthy fats (nuts and seeds, olive/avocado/coconut oils), and complex carbohydrates (whole grain breads, pastas, and starchy vegetables). Look for recipes with minimal ingredients, that can be made in 30 minutes or less, or that can be meal prepped on the weekend for quick, easy meals during the week.
Involve the family
Setting an example for my kids and trying to get them involved in baking and cooking is one of my biggest motivators. If they are involved in the kitchen, your kids will more likely want to try new things and eat healthier as well, which is a great way to sustain your motivation to continue eating healthy as well. There's also no shame in asking your family to help you stay focused and accountable, and support your healthy eating choices.
Meal plan and prep
Getting in the habit of meal planning and prepping on the weekend will definitely keep you motivated to eat healthy during the week. But, you need to prioritize time for this. Set aside time each weekend to make your meal plan and grocery list for the week ahead, shop for your groceries (and stick to your list!), and prepare a few meals or side dishes that can quickly be reheated or simply plated during the week for a quick, healthy meal. Some of my favourite things to prepare on the weekend include quinoa and roasted vegetables that can easily be added to meals or enjoyed as a side.
Try new foods and new recipes
Eating the same healthy foods everyday can get boring, and boring is not going to keep you motivated. So, don't be afraid to try new foods and recipes. Aim to add at least one new food and/or recipe to your menu per week. Variety and the anticipation of trying something new will help to keep you motivated to keep your meals healthy.
Satisfy your cravings
Restrictions and labelling foods as "bad" or off limits tends to backfire. You don't have to deprive yourself of your favourite foods or snacks, if you really want a treat, then eat it, enjoy it, and move on. Still being able to enjoy your favourite foods in moderation will support your healthy lifestyle, remind you that all foods fit, and keep you motivated to continue your healthy eating habits.
Eat something every 2 to 3 hours
Eating at regular intervals helps to keep your metabolism going and make sure you don't get so hungry that you grab whatever is in sight or make unhealthy choices. If you are going to be out or away from home for a while, plan ahead and bring a healthy snack when you leave the house.
Keep a food journal
A food journal is extremely helpful in tracking what and how much you are eating. Being able to look back on what you have eaten and how well you are doing maintaining your healthy eating habits can be very satisfying and motivate you to keep going. It is also a great way to identify any foods or ingredients that may trigger sensitivities or digestive discomfort that you may want to avoid or limit, and replace with something else. Try a written journal or go digital and log your diet on your smartphone.
Don't let one or two unhealthy meals set you back
Don't beat yourself up if you get off track and eat an unhealthy meal or two. Just make sure your next meal is a healthy one! No one eats healthy ALL of the time. It's what you do most of the time that counts. Knowing that you are capable of getting right back on track and moving on from that unhealthy meal will only motivate you even more to keep up your healthy eating habits.