If you’re reading this article, you’re likely struggling to feel motivated to eat healthy.
Perhaps you find it difficult to reach that five cups of vegetable and fruit recommendation, or struggle with eating out too often.
Whatever it is that you are struggling with, this article will guide you through seven ways you can stay motivated to eat healthy.
And no, this is not a short term fix.
I’m not going to provide “tips” or “motivational quotes” that will yield short bursts of motivation, such as pictures of six packs on your fridge.These strategies can be implemented now and be effective for the rest of your life.
This is because they will lead to sustainable changes in your life.
You’ll find that these strategies are easy to implement, and may even change your preconceived notions about nutrition and wellness.
Try out one or two or maybe all of these strategies and see how drastically your eating improves!
1. Set small, attainable goals
Number one tip is to create small, attainable goals.
So often, we are swept away with the idea of making huge changes in our life.
Whether it’s to lose 20 lbs before Christmas or cut out sugar for 1 month, though these goals are exciting, they will likely be too challenging and will lead to failure.
We love to create these huge, satisfying goals for ourselves.We seek perfection, when instead, we should be seeking consistency.
Both of these examples will involve being very strict for a short period of time. But what happens when the month is over? Or when you lose the 20 lbs?
Likely, in a few months, you’ll be back to where you started. This is because you fall back into the same old habits.
Instead, choose small, attainable goals, that you can maintain for long periods of time.
For example, you can try and add one serving of vegetables to lunch four days a week. This is fairly easy to do, and once you can maintain this habit for a few months, you can up that goal to six days a week.
So, instead of creating grand, unattainable goals, choose a smaller, more realistic goal that you know you can achieve.
For example, instead of saying “I will lose 20 lbs by Christmas”, you can change this to “I will make half of my plate vegetables for dinner”.
This goal is attainable, and will lead you in the direction you want to go.
Having small, attainable goals will motivate you more because you will be making little victories every single day.
The more small victories you make, the more confident and motivated you will feel.
This will lead you to keep adding on small, attainable goals up until the point where you are living a super healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
2. Learn to cook
I think this one is so, so important.
You can probably guess that cooking your own food is often more healthy than eating out.
Typically, home cooking is lower in sodium, unhealthy fats and portion sizes (depends who is cooking of course!).
By learning to cook, you will be likely to eat at home more often (this depends on your schedule as well), which will likely lead to healthier eating.Along with this, by learning to cook, you will learn how to make healthy food taste good.
If you are a beginner, try a cooking class and/or look up cooking tutorials on YouTube.
From there, look up healthy recipes online or on social media, purchase healthy eating cookbooks, and teach yourself how to make healthy recipes that taste good.
You’ll be surprised how delicious broccoli is when you cook it properly.
Spend some time experimenting, trying new recipes, and you’ll be eating very healthy in no time.
Remember – you will be more motivated to eat healthy when your food tastes good.
3. Plan ahead
A great tip to be motivated to eat healthy is to plan ahead.
This means planning recipes you are going to try during the week, creating a grocery list before you get to the store, and stocking up on healthy snacks when you need something in a pinch.
When you plan ahead, there is less room for excuses and running to McDonalds because you have nothing to eat at home (though this is totally ok once in a while).
You can be as strict or loose with planning as you desire.
I would at least start with planning out a few days of dinners and creating a list of all the foods you need to get at the grocery store.
If you know that you are making chicken tacos on Wednesday, you will be far more likely to make those chicken tacos on Wednesday instead of running out to get take out.
Try out planning your meals and grocery lists for a few weeks and see how it changes your eating.
Referring back to the first strategy, planning out your meals can be made into a goal.
For example, trying to plan out your dinners four days a week can be a great goal.
Another one would be preparing sliced peppers and carrots with ranch for snacks at the start of the week.
By planning ahead and having healthy foods ready to eat and available, healthy eating will be so much easier.
4. Make a list of healthy foods that you love
Try creating a list of healthy foods that you love.First off, writing them down is a reminder that healthy eating can be delicious.
It’s important to acknowledge that being healthy can be enjoyable if you want it to be.
You don’t have to eat “healthy” foods that you hate, focus on those that you love.Next, it’s great for planning purposes.
If you love green beans and red peppers, try planning meals that include those foods throughout the week.
As time goes on, add to this list as you try new foods and recipes.
You may be surprised that you like Brussels sprouts when they are roasted with balsamic vinegar. Add them to the list.
Reflect back on the list every once in a while to add new foods and to remind yourself that eating healthy is fun and delicious.
5. Educate yourself on nutrition
It’s always good to understand why eating healthy is important.
If you understand the benefits of eating leafy greens or orange fruits, then you may feel more motivated to eat these foods.
Of course this strategy won’t necessarily work for everyone.
For example, little kids probably don’t care that oatmeal helps improve your cholesterol.
They may be more excited that the oatmeal turns blue when you add frozen blueberries. To each their own!
By, if you are a health conscious person and are interested in how foods affect your body, I would highly suggest educating yourself!
As a dietitian, these are some of my top recommendations. Choose one that resonates with you and your goals.
6. Focus more on adding the good than getting rid of the bad
Number one, adding in more healthy foods is often more beneficial than reducing the bad foods.
Healthy foods provide essential nutrients along with other beneficial components which boost health further.Plus, it’s much easier to add than remove.
Many people make the mistake of removing added sugar or refined grains before they try adding in more fruits and vegetables to their diet.
Focus on getting a wide variety of foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy products or non dairy calcium sources, and healthy fats.
Once you have all of these foods in your diet, then you can try to reduce things like added sugar, or saturated fats.
But until you are at that point, the focus should be on adding the good.
Referring back to the first point, creating goals based around removing food groups or foods that are “bad” are often unsustainable and unenjoyable.
On the other hand, goals based on adding in nutritious foods in amounts that are sustainable for you are going to be more attainable and enjoyable.
7. Create healthy habits with your friends and/or family
Another great motivator is peer support.
If you have a friend or family member who wants to try eating healthier, try doing it together.
Check in with each other and talk about your goals and what you have accomplished.
Having a peer to support you is going to yield stronger motivation and therefore better results.
You’ll feel more motivation to continue striving towards your goals and eventually reach them.
If you don’t know anyone who wants to eat healthier, there are plenty of online communities that serve this purpose!
This is even sometimes better because you are more likely to find people with the exact same goals as you.
However you want to do it, having peer support is so important to maintaining and achieving healthy eating goals.
Why is it so hard to be motivated to eat healthy?
In today’s society, we are so focused on making big changes in our eating and/or appearance.
Though it is possible to achieve these big goals, it is often unenjoyable and leads to burnout.
Plus, people may reach these goals, but find themselves falling back into their old habits once it’s been achieved.
To prevent this, follow the steps I’ve laid out.
Create attainable goals, learn to cook, plan ahead, remind yourself that healthy food can be delicious, educate yourself, focus on adding good foods and utilize peer support.
These strategies can help motivate you to eat healthy not only for the short term, but for the long haul.
Staying motivated to eat healthy won’t even be difficult, because eating healthy is enjoyable and part of your life.
Thank you so much for reading this article. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments. Also, follow me on Instagram @tasteitwithtia for healthy recipes and nutrition tips!