Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Routine
Sticking to your resolutions can be hard work, but if you started out the year with a commitment to eat healthily, and you’ve maintained that commitment until now, you’re going great guns! The onset of fall can trip people up though, given the cold weather and the craving for comfort foods. So, if you find yourself wavering on the promises you made, don’t cheat! You’ve come this far, and there are many ways to boost your willpower and stay on track for good health.
Here are some tips to help ensure you’re maintaining a healthy routine:
First and foremost, make sure to get enough sleep. According to psychologist Kelly McGonigal, people who get a solid eight hours of sleep a night are better able to distinguish long-term goals from short-term rewards, compared to people who get just seven hours of sleep. Researchers have also found that too little sleep, or occasional disrupted sleep patterns, can lead to unwanted weight gain.
In order to maintain willpower and support a healthy living style, it makes sense to establish a healthy sleep routine. When you wake feeling refreshed, you’re likely to be better able to resist the temptation of sugary snacks and caffeine, and stay focused on achieving and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation can also help maintain your focus so you are better able to resist cravings. Start by meditating for just a minute a day, and gradually increase the time so as to enhance your ability to control your thoughts and feelings and reduce impulsivity. The act of meditation can also help teach us to quieten negative self-talk that may otherwise undermine even the best of intentions.
Another way to reduce the risk of self-sabotage is to become your own best friend. Just as you would support a friend who is trying to stick to a healthy diet, give yourself the same level of support. Be sure to celebrate your successes (non-food rewards are best!) and, if you do slip up, offer yourself a little pep talk to get back on track.
It is also helpful to try to avoid thinking about healthy eating as a diet of denial. Instead of obsessing over a list of banned foods, focus on the fact that you are making specific food choices so as to feel more energized, healthy and happy. Pick foods that will nourish you, rather than those that lead you on a sugary rollercoaster of short-term gratification.
Have a Battle-Plan
On a more practical level, if fall comfort foods are your undoing in terms of healthy eating, prepare a plan of attack. This might mean taking a little extra time to make something delicious and healthy, like grilled veggies and a protein-packed chickpea salad, with a cashew cream Caesar-style dressing. Whole foods and healthy plant-proteins and fats can lower the glycaemic index of a meal and slow down digestion, helping you feel fuller for longer, meaning that you eat fewer calories overall.
To further support appetite control, try sprinkling some PGX (available in single-serving sachets!) on top of food, or mix PGX® with iced water flavoured with slices of cucumber, mint, basil, lemon or lime*. Having refreshing, delicious, non-alcoholic beverages on hand for socializing can also help you avoid making unhealthy beverage choices.
Kelly McGonigal, PhD. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It (Penguin 2012)
Spiegel, K., Leproult, R., L’hermite-Balériaux, M., Copinschi, G., Penev, P.D., Van Cauter, E. (2004). Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Nov;89(11):5762-71.
* Drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX®. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX®