A recent study from Stanford University found that solely focusing on the mental and physical benefits of a healthy diet can make it harder for you to reap those benefits. It can make you believe that healthy eating is boring and potentially even depriving. Instead, focusing on how truly delicious and flavorful healthy foods are can help you realize a healthy diet is more about fueling your body than it is physical perks. Here are three ways to help your healthy eating habits stick.
1. Start Small
Don't try to completely redesign your diet in one day. Try making one small, incremental change at a time. Instead of turning down both bread and fries at your next dinner out, start off by making just one swap, like trading the fries for a side salad, but letting yourself have a piece of bread. This will help your mind adjust to the healthy changes instead of retaliating against deprivation mode.
2. Focus on Flavor
Healthy foods offer more than just vitamins and nutrients, such as delicious crunch, vibrant color, and tons of flavor. Studies show that these so-called "experiential" elements of eating could help you choose wisely when deciding what to eat. This could be as simple as topping a salad with fresh herbs or keeping a bottle of hot sauce at work to amp up the flavor of a "boring" plate. These tactics can help you enjoy eating nutritious foods.
3. Plan Ahead
Preparing your meals in advance is a research-backed strategy for keeping your cravings in check. Studies show that employees who decide on their lunch orders in the morning consume 5% fewer calories than their usual colleagues who made their choices in the moment. By planning your lunch or snack time menu ahead of time, you'll get to eat what you want and your brain will benefit too.