How to Build a New “Normal” for Healthy Eating
When dieting, many people want to be able to start healthy eating “normally”, but when they decide to get started, they realize that they don’t really know what that term means in terms of eating habits. The fact is that the term represents something different, depending on the individual who uses it. The odds are that when you think about eating in a “normal” way, you are referring to a time – probably in your childhood – when selecting foods didn’t take a great deal of thought and when you found it relatively easy to maintain a healthy body weight.
Now, it feels like the more “normal” you want to be in your eating, the more rules, restrictions, and thought goes into everything you eat. The fact is that you could be working directly against your own goals. When you want to eat in a normal way, the most important thing for you to do is to get to know what your true body signals are telling you and to make informed choices based on those various cues.
The following are some very basic steps that can help you to set yourself in the right direction toward establishing a normal healthy eating pattern that you will be able to keep up over time, without all of the effort and rules:
• Pay attention to your sensation of hunger – Give yourself a challenge over a period of two solid days in which you listen to what your body is really trying to tell you. The majority of us are so used to eating at certain times and during certain activities (such as mealtime and while watching TV) that we’ve lost track of what it really feels like to feel hungry. During that two day period, eat only when you are fairly certain that you are feeling actual hunger and that you aren’t just eating out of habit, boredom, or some other emotion like frustration or sadness. This will provide you with an increased awareness of your body’s signals so that you can begin eating around what you need and not what you are simply used to doing.
• Treat yourself – Every day, allow yourself to enjoy one thing that you used to consider to be something you weren’t supposed to have. Instead of feeling stressed out about eating only healthy foods and then binging on junk, and instead of feeling guilty for having that candy bar or ice cream cone, tell yourself that you’re allowed something fun every day. That will allow you to have it now or save it for later, when you’ll really want it and enjoy it, and it will give yourself the chance to eat it without guilt. By doing this, you won’t feel as though you are deprived of everything you love to eat and you’re less likely to pig out and overeat. You’ll eat sensibly and have your treat when it best suits your day.
• Pay attention – Listen to what your body is telling you. Pay attention to how you feel after various foods. Which ones give you energy? Which ones fill you up? Which ones seem great at first but cause you to crash later on? Get to know these triggers so you will be able to make more informed decisions for your own personal reactions about healthy eating.