A month ago my daily routine dramatically changed and with it so did my health habits. Many of these changes were to be expected, as we welcomed our first born into our lives. (No shocker that my sleep has been significantly altered…)
However I was surprised to find that my food habits were turned nearly upside down during these last four weeks. Not grocery shopping or cooking as friends and family bring you food, being at home majority of the day with easy access to the kitchen, and being up at odd hours, as well as tired and hangry at odd hours, are apparently a (good) recipe for UNhealthy eating.
It didn’t happen right away, but has snuck up on me as my priorities have shifted away from food choice and more on keeping a small human alive. A fair and reasonable shift, of course, but not an excuse to forget about my health. My health, after all, is what my daughter is dependent on now and forever more!
Each day that passes our new life as parents becomes more familiar and the easier it is to find routine. We are in the prime time for building new habits and I want these habits to be as healthy as possible.
So here is how I am adapting my food habits to fit into my new lifestyle. These are not new concepts, but the same ones I have always used to make my food choices. The difference is that now I must apply them in a new environment; something I have not had to do in a long time.
No matter what the situation you find yourself in you can always apply these to develop healthy food habits.
1. Have a plan
EVERY DAY ask yourself: What will you eat tomorrow? When will you be eating? Do you have the food you want on hand already? Does any food need to be prepared in advance to make it easier in the moment? Are there any barriers to ensuring you can follow your plan that need to be considered; others involved, appointments, social engagements, etc.
The trick is, you must do this EVERY DAY for it to be effective in forming your habits. The details of healthy eating may come and go, such as servings of veggies, cooking and prepping at home with fresh ingredients, but these will come easier once you are able to plan your daily food choices with ease.
2. Execute the plan with MINDFULNESS
If we have a plan we are more likely to stick to the plan, which is healthier than going rouge with your food choices. It also keeps you from reaching in the cookie jar whenever you felt hungry (or tired or bored…). Think about it; if you have cut carrots and hummus on the main shelf in the fridge and you already told yourself that would be your snack mid morning then why wouldn’t it be?
That said, the plan is just a blueprint; things happen. Maybe you are not hungry when you thought you would be or you are hungry when you didn’t expect it, or you have an impromptu lunch date with a friend, or carrots and hummus just really don’t sound that good today, or, or, or… it is okay! Mindfulness is how we make up for the discretion between your plan and reality. It allows you to recognize and honor what you need in the moment. This is how we avoid “failure” of not following our plan, or “falling off the wagon” (one of my least favorite sayings of all time).
3. Grace > Guilt
With mindfulness there is no guilt. Each time you eat is another opportunity to practice making a food choice that makes you feel satisfied. There are many reasons we choose to eat, and why we choose what we eat. The best we can do is make those choices with intension and without regret; enjoy the choice and move on to the next.
If you feel like you were not mindful during a meal, or a day, or even a series of days, give yourself grace. There can not be guilt where there is grace. Remind yourself this is a journey and you are practicing.
Life will not be exactly as planned, ever. The best we can do is prepare then learn and adapt as we go.
If, or more like when, life changes and your delicate habits are gone in a blink, come back to these concepts and reform your behaviors. Or, maybe you are just recognizing the habits you currently have are not worth keeping, use these to readjust!
What other habits can you apply these too??