5 Tips on How to Make Nutrition Changes Stick
Every month is a perfect month to start to make healthy changes to your diet and just because it’s January doesn’t mean that your commitment to better nutrition hasn’t already had its challenges. Even the smallest nutrition changes can be hard to stick to, and dietary habits are some of the hardest habits to change in a sustainable way.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to make nutrition changes stick, each one designed to support your commitment to holistic nutrition, nourishing yourself all year long, and keeping yourself accountable:
- Write down your goals and keep them visible. This is the #1 most helpful tip that creates sustainable nutrition habits. Often, we feel overwhelmed by too many changes or too many goals at once and forget our goals as the weeks go on. Most notably – we forget WHY we set those goals in the first place, especially after weeks and weeks of feeling setback by willpower challenges. Write down a manageable amount of goals or nutrition changes you’d like to make, and make sure they are sustainable changes. Start with only one or two changes so you can really focus and commit to developing those habits. Sustainable means you will likely be able to continue these changes for months and months (or even years) after you’re resolutions are “done”. Write down a few words that inspire you and remind you why you’re doing this for the long haul – and always make these words a positive reminder.
- Plan plan plan. The best thing you can do for yourself is to always think ahead. You know yourself well enough to know where your obstacles lie (will power is a common one for most people, or being “too busy”), so take some time each week to plan things to make your life easier. For example. MEAL PLANNING is essential for almost any nutrition plan to be sustainable. Each week go through a couple of recipes, do your grocery shopping, pre-chop, batch cook and store several meals for your week so you’re not frantically trying to find a healthier dinner option at 6:00pm. It’s already done. After a couple of weeks doing this, you’ll start developing your own recipe arsenal and go-to meals that are easy to make, no brainer options. This always gets easier over time, the more you do it.
- Designate an accountability partner. If you know you’re not great at sticking to nutrition changes, designate a friend or family member to check in with you every day with a quick, “Hey, did you remember to drink 60 ounces of water today?” or, “Remember to batch cook today – It’s Sunday!”. Even better, have a friend do this with you during the week so you can check in with each other. We can often weasel our way out of doing things for ourselves by making up all kinds of excuses. Having someone hold you accountable is a huge help, and they can be your biggest support if you feel like you’re struggling.
- Budget your new plan and stick to it. It’s very common for folks to try and make sweeping nutrition changes only to find that 2-3 weeks in they’re spending a lot more money than is sustainable to continue. Eating healthy does not have to be expensive if you know where to look and how to stick to a budget. Batch cooking, buying in bulk (like nuts and seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices and dried fruits), and shopping at ethnic markets can save a lot of money long term. Collecting your recipes, planning your meals, and creating meals that have overlapping, seasonal ingredients is a great place to start.
- Check in with yourself once a week and give yourself permission to adjust. Sometimes the new habits and lifestyle shifts that we make for ourselves don’t always serve us in a positive way long term. For example, if one of your goals was to try a vegetarian diet and decrease meat consumption, but you’re feeling like you’re energy is inconsistent, or you’re relying on more protein bars instead of meals, or your digestion is having a hard time with new plant based proteins, be honest with yourself and give yourself permission to make adjustments. Certain ways of eating are not for everyone – we’re all different and respond to food inputs differently. This is where working with a nutritionist is extremely helpful in creating a personalized nutrition plan that is designed for you and your unique constitution. Flexibility is important to make nutrition changes stick, and listening to your body is the first step.
If you need individualized support in making a sustainable nutrition plan, consider making an appointment with our licensed dietitian nutritionist, Lindsay Kluge, for a one-on-one assessment and collaborative meal plan to support your long term health goals.
About the Author:
Lindsay Kluge is a Clinical Herbalist & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and received her Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2012. She has been with Richmond Natural Medicine since 2013, and specializes in therapeutic holistic nutrition, circadian rhythm balance and sleep physiology, digestion, and Ayurvedic nutrition. She offers individualized nutrition and herbal medicine consultations that include meal planning support, custom compounded herbal formulas, nutrition guidance and general wellness support. Learn more about services that Lindsay offers at Richmond Natural Medicine by clicking HERE.