Think about what you would do if you wanted to run a marathon. Do you wake up on the first morning of training and expect to run the full distance without any hiccups? If you’re like most people, probably not. Training for a marathon can take weeks, even months, and most people do it by changing their running, eating, and sleep habits slowly over time, so they maintain consistency and see the results they want on race day. But how does it work when you apply this concept to nutrition? Can small changes really culminate in a changed lifestyle?
Many nutritionists and nutrition coaches use this sort of method to help their clients sustain their healthy diet choices over time. Our nutrition coaches at EW Motion Therapy do this through setting goals, face-to-face coaching, and constant feedback. We also use an app, where we assign weekly objectives and tasks for clients to complete. Even if you do not choose to pursue nutrition services with us, we still want to educate on how small habit changes can transform your diet.
This article discusses how habit-based plans work, some of the benefits of the plans, and reasons why they may work for you. With this information, you can begin a new plan with confidence, knowing you are making an excellent investment in your health.
How do habit-based plans work?
First, changing habits is not necessarily a diet plan, but a roadmap of guidelines that teach you how to eat better. Most people try this method for weight loss, but your goals will dictate the habits you need to reach success. If you’re trying to build muscle, for example, calorie restriction might not be a part of what you implement.
One of the main goals of changing eating habits is to help you move away from the need for a regimented diet plan, with measuring and weighing everything you eat. If you’re on a diet plan that requires specific food measurements, then you lose convenience, and dieting becomes a chore. When a diet plan becomes a chore and a sour spot in your day, it probably is not sustainable, and you may inevitably give up after a period of time. But, if you change your general habits and use less rigid measurements, like a hand chart for portion sizes and a calorie estimate, you have the flexibility to eat out with friends and treat yourself occasionally, while still working towards your health goals.
While this method might not bring you the fastest results, a true lifestyle change should be a marathon, not a sprint. A sprint in terms of nutritional changes is a crash diet, and while those may help you shed ten pounds in one week, they don’t guarantee that you can keep the weight off and learn how to keep losing. Changing habits is more sustainable and psychologically healthier over time, as you build self-confidence and self-efficacy.
Will these plans work for me?
A habit-based method for weight loss (or any other health goal) works for many people. As long as you set realistic goals, celebrate your small wins, and keep track of your progress, you should see sustainable results. For example, you could set a goal for yourself to drink 64oz of water every day this week. If you accomplish that goal, you can continue that into the next week, while adding in at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal. Small changes like this sustained over time are the true keys to success.
If you seem to be doing everything right and you are not seeing the results you expect, you can see a nutrition specialist to discuss nutrients and implement more specific foods or habits to help. Making a true lifestyle change is not easy, especially with food, but if you are consistent while being kind to yourself along the way, you can accomplish your goals and feel better in your own skin.
How else can I eat well?
Now you know more about habit-based nutrition and how you can implement small changes that turn into life-changing results. Along with eating less calories, it often matters where those calories come from, or the quality of the food you eat. You should incorporate good protein, carbs, and fat into your diet, along with fruits, vegetables, and plenty of water. If you do this, you can eat a variety of good food that also tastes amazing while making great choices for your health.
It can seem overwhelming to tackle a big goal like weight loss, but realistically, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. Small changes can lead to big results, which is what we tell our nutrition clients at EW Motion Therapy. Our nutrition coaches use food journaling, check-ins, and habit tracking to keep their clients engaged and motivated. If you are interested in nutrition services with us, fill out the Request an Appointment form on our website, and someone from our staff will contact you within 48 hours with your next steps