3 Tiny Changes That'll Help You Cultivate Healthier Habits, From An RD
In her 10 years as a dietitian, Jess Cording, R.D., realized that most clients could already distinguish healthy versus unhealthy habits. What they find more challenging, however, is staying consistent in those healthy habits.
"People really struggled with how to stay consistent with healthy habits when they felt really stressed or anxious or that they had no time or money," she said on the mindbodygreen podcast.
The easiest way to commit is through smaller changes. "Tiny shifts can really make a huge difference," Cording said. On Episode 167 of the mindbodygreen podcast, she shared three tips from her book The Little Book of Game Changers, to help cultivate healthy eating habits:
1. Change your passwords.
If you have an intention for the new year or even the upcoming week, changing your password can both remind you of that goal and help you stick to it. The advice is inspired by the law of attraction, which is the belief that positive or negative thoughts will usher positive or negative experiences.
"Words are powerful," Cording said, which means that changing your passwords to reflect your intentions can also be powerful. When we internalize the meaning of our passwords, which we read and write nearly every day, it has the ability to change our mindsets.
mbg founder Jason Wachob called this tip "smart and prudent," and "super practical, too." You can accomplish your goals while also protecting your cybersecurity.
2. Control your hanger.
The term "hanger" commonly refers to the anger you feel as a result of hunger. When Cording talks about hanger management, though, "it's really a more casual way of saying 'keeping your blood sugar in a state of balance.'"
Carbohydrates raise blood sugar, so without fat, protein, or fiber to slow down the digestive process, those carbs convert to sugar much more quickly. This leads to a quick energy spike and a subsequent crash.
A balanced meal, on the other hand, will make you "feel stable, energized...focused, and calm," as opposed to "irritable and unpleasant to be around."
3. Be curious, not critical, of your food cravings.
Our cravings are a form of communication between the brain and the body, telling us what we need. "There's a lot of shame around food, and I think people are conditioned to immediately want to fight their food cravings," she said. "Instead of getting critical about [them], what if we got curious?"
A longing for ice cream or a bag of chips might point to emotional cravings more than hunger.
"Think about ice cream, for example," Cording said. "A lot of us associate ice cream with carefree summer days when we were kids." When we face stress in adulthood, that craving for an ice cream cone might be triggered by a nostalgic longing for simpler times.
"We're not necessarily conditioned to be in touch with all parts of that story," Cording said. "We just hear 'ice cream craving.' Oh, that's bad. I need to quiet that.'"
Taking a moment to be mindful about these cravings can prevent us from feeling guilty or quickly "satisfying" them with low-quality foods. If you're going to have the ice cream, make sure the ice cream is amazing, urged Wachob.
Cording agreed with this strategy of "making it count" instead of simply suppressing the craving. "I'm sorry," she said. "Life is way too short."
Before practicing these three tips, Cording said the first step is to get clear on what your goal is, whether it's physical or emotional. "Once you're clear on that, then you have the power to think of one tiny step you can take in that direction."
Be sure to check out Cording's tips for drinking in a healthy way, which she also shared on the podcast.
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