Creating a Nutritional Habit

This week we are thrilled to share the work of Laura Tricarico, a long-time CFKI member and nutritional therapist who is amazing at “boiling down” (see what I did there?) important points about nutrition that we all can understand and incorporate into our lives.  In this article, Laura discusses how to effectively create new nutritional habits.  I hope you find this as helpful as I did!  Please let us know of any topics, nutrition-based or otherwise, that you’d like to hear more about.
We have all heard that abs are made in the kitchen, but what if your kitchen is constantly disorganized or always in the planning stages of a remodel metaphorically speaking? It can be daunting to consider changes in the kitchen to finds those abs or a healthier body when there are so many approaches to health and nutrition. If you spend fifteen minutes on social media, you are likely to see a diet promotion or product promoted to ‘help’ your health, leaving you overwhelmed with where to start of how to take the next step. The large amounts of information available to us often leaves us in the motion stage of habit change rather than the action stage. Staying in motion allows you to feel as if you are making progress (spinning your wheels) without truly gaining any ground or moving towards your goals. So how do you get to the action stage of creating a habit? Make it obvious, easy, attractive, and satisfying.
Whether you want to include movement in your day, make it to the gym more often, or create sustainable eating habits, the first step is to make it obvious. Keeping your new habit in plain sight and unforgettable is a constant reminder of your new habit. If you must look for it, you will forget and spend another day not incorporating your habit into your day. If you want to eat two vegetables at every meal, take the veggies from the bottom crisper drawer and place them in plain sight on the shelves in the refrigerator. If it is more days in the gym, set your clothes and shoes out so it is the first thing you see in the morning. IF you want to drink more water, keep a full water bottle with you throughout the day. Go as far as adding some tape and making a mark every time you finish the bottle. When a habit is new, it can be easy to forget your intention throughout the day; making your habit obvious provides the needed reminders.
Creating an easy habit may seem too elementary to even mention, but it is all too common to see people overcomplicate new habits or goals. Ever tried to meal prep every meal, attempt a Whole30, ditch sugar all together, or track every morsel of food you eat? It can be really tempting to overhaul your habits all at once in the pursuit of health, but it usually ends in a crash and burn into old habits. Create new, sustainable habits by making it easy. Allowing it to be simple builds integrity with yourself that you may have lost after failed attempts; permitting you to win the day while you build the habit over time. A few examples are to chop up a few days’ worth of vegetables and portion them out so you can grab them easily throughout the day. Buy those same vegetables prechopped to make it even easier until the habit feels comfortable. If you are working towards more daily movement, start with the two-minute rule. Walk or run for two minutes. You can stop at two minutes if that is all you feel ready for or if you are feeling good, can continue beyond the two minutes. Either way, you have won the day with a simple two minutes. If you are adding more water to your day, start by increasing your intake by one cup at a time. Easy feels less daunting to get into the action stage of change and feels safe enough to leave the planning stage.
Habits need to be attractive to keep you interested in the early stages, especially if you are uncomfortable with the change. The attractiveness of the habit is subjective based on the person, but keep in mind ways to keep your new habit appealing to you. Have you ever sat down to a boring meal-prepped dish only to feel disinterest in the meal or unenthusiastic to continue your meal prepping habit? Instead, find ways to make your meal attractive: put the meal on a fancy plate, take a few minutes to plate it nicely, top with fresh herbs, choose colorful produce. Spending a few extra minutes making your food attractive will continue to motivate your healthy habits each meal. IF you are working on drinking more water, add some fresh fruit or find a fancy water bottle you enjoy drinking from. Increase your habit success by making aspects attractive to you. Once the habit becomes part of your identity, you won’t require the same level of appeal to make it stick.
The final criteria for your habit should be to make it satisfy. Achievement alone is incredibly satisfying; therefore, keep a habit easy, obvious, and attractive ensures success which provides satisfaction. When improving your healthy eating habits, choose foods that create more volume to leave you feeling content with your meal. You will walk away from the meal feeling satisfied and not looking for additional food to eat. Making your gym habit stick by finding ways to keep it obvious, easy, and attractive leaves you personally satisfied once you are there and covered in sweat from a great workout. If your habit follows the first three criteria, the satisfaction follows.
Miranda Alcaraz (Oldroyd) recently said, “Your current reality is a reflection of your habits, not your goals.” You will always fall to your habits rather than rise to your goals, so take a moment and think about a habit that you can work on today. Set the bar low if you must but stop spinning your wheels and get into action by making your new habit obvious, easy, attractive, and satisfying. Put your kitchen back together and the healthier body will follow one healthy habit at a time.

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