7 Things That Will Help Change Your Eating Habits
When I first found out I was pregnant, I immediately knew that I would have to change my eating habits. I mean I wasn’t eating atrociously but I knew I wasn’t nearly eating healthy enough to give a developing baby what it needed. I’m not proud of it, but I was probably eating 5 fruits and 2 vegetables a month… Okay maybe that is atrocious… I’m just lazy and don’t like cooking extra (my man’s stomach is a veggie free zone, literally) so I ate a rational portion of what I cooked for him. And I snacked a lot… Okay, yea so my diet was definitely atrocious… Anyway, I knew that I would have to do better and that I needed to change eating habits that were second nature to me.
While I was trying to eat a little healthier in my first trimester, it wasn’t making much of a difference. In fact, I started gaining too much weight too quickly for my pregnancy and it was an initial concern for the doctor. Within two separate appointments in the span of two months, my doctor basically cut any means of taste out from my diet. You can read my initial and depressing reaction when I vent about my second trimester.
I had to lower my sodium intake as well as sugar and carbs and increase my iron intake. All things that I’ve never considered or concerned myself with before. I mean, “Why look at a label?” was my frame of mind but I couldn’t do that anymore; not while carrying and caring for my baby. So I flipped the script and progressively worked to change eating habits and get out of my comfort zone.
Believe it or not, I did feel the difference after changing how I ate. It wasn’t immediate, but it was there. I started to feel less tired and sluggish. I felt like I had the energy to do more…I didn’t do more…but I felt like I could. I also felt motivated. Pretty sure the motivation didn’t come from the lack of unhealthiness, but from succeeding at something that I’ve kind of always wanted to do but never had the guts, drive or reason to. Not to mention, that the change benefited my baby.
If you’d like to start making your diet a little bit better, here are 7 tips to help change your eating habits.
7 Tips to Change Eating Habits
1. Cut out the obvious.
Now I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t perfected this one yet but as a grown a** adult, you know what you shouldn’t be eating. Those cookies, that muffin, that tub of ice cream… You don’t need them so put it down. (A little tough love there, hope I didn’t lose you.) It will be a struggle between willpower and want but you can do it.
2. Have a grocery list.
To accompany number 1 on the list, it’s best to have a grocery list before you go to the store. Before I changed eating habits I did this for a cost reason but it helps with this too. Write down what you need from the grocery store. Only what you need. When you’re in the store and see an item that’s not on your list, you don’t pick it up. Simple as that. You didn’t need that cheesecake while you were inventorying your pantry at home so you don’t need it now.
3. Substitute what you can.
This tip is great for my avid sugar consumers. I too was one of you. Eh, I’m currently positioned on the fence right now with one leg on either side… Anyway, I love sugar and when my doctor told me that I had to give up all of my sugary and tasty cereals, I wanted to cry. No joke, I was heartbroken. I love cereal. I had to replace my love with plain sugarless oatmeal. Not fun at all. But I remembered from a previous eating habit change, using agave nectar as a sugar substitute. Now I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s the same, but it does help my struggle and it gives me the slight taste of sweet that I need. It’s also natural and not overly processed like sugar is. So there’s something that you have to have in your diet, I’m pretty sure that there’s a healthier option out there. You just have to look it up and get used to it.
4. Educate yourself.
This one is key. As a person who has never paid attention to a label before, when you start, it’s like a foreign language. You can have an idea, but one stat can affect another stat and can affect another and it may look like a better option but be just as bad. Luckily, I had a diabetic coworker teach me a few things since that’s where my changed eating habits were headed. I was taught the basics and with that I knew what I should and shouldn’t pick up.
5. Record your meals.
Tedious but think about it’s benefit. If you write it down, you have to stare your successes or failures in the face. You can’t run from what you did and it will hold you accountable if you need to do better. It'll also give you reason to celebrate yourself if you did good.
6. Drink more water.
Everyone speaks of the benefits but until pregnancy, I didn’t do it. I’m not much of a drinker…a drinker of liquid in general…not much of an alcohol drinker either but I’m speaking of liquids in general here. I probably drank 3 or 4 glasses a day to the recommended 8. While pregnant, my doctor wanted me to get up to 10 cups a day and this became a literal water torcher for me. I struggled so hard in the beginning it wasn’t even funny. What I did notice was the more water I got through, the less I wanted to pick up snacks. The torcher had its benefits.
7. Treat yourself.
Slightly contradicting to tip number 1, but it’s important. If you keep telling yourself “No to this” and “No to that” and denying yourself happiness, you will fail. You’ll cave in and then it’s just a downward slope from there. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to have an occasional treat. It keeps you in the control seat if you set your own limit and doesn’t give temptation the opportunity to get the better of you.
Now, I'm going to be honest, because that's what we do here, it wasn’t and still isn’t easy to maintain my changed eating habits. From a person with a strong sweet tooth and wavering will power and lack of focus, you may find yourself on the wrong side, but that's okay. At the end of the day, we are all human. As long as you are intently making the effort, there's nothing more you need to ask of yourself. Remember, when you change eating habits, it's a marathon, not a sprint. You want these changes to stick throughout your life, so you do have plenty of time to get it right.