With this habit-building process, ANYONE can become someone who easily eats healthy, loses weight and keeps it off – forever.
If you’re frustrated that you aren’t eating as healthy as you want and feel like you just need some motivation, I want to let you in on a big secret:
You don’t find motivation – you create it.
You get motivation by creating momentum, and that’s where a lot of us get stuck.
When we decide to eat healthier to lose weight, we immediately want to do ALL THE THINGS. We overcomplicate it before doing the easy things we can start right now and maintain long enough to actually see results. (By the way, the habits that you can maintain for a long time are the same ones that will drop the weight and keep it off forever.)
We do things like, “I’m going to eat keto and cut out all of the carbs!” and “I’m going to drink a gallon jug of water every day!”
Unfortunately it is VERY hard to build momentum with a bunch of extreme, new habits you start all at once.
Instead, first check in with yourself, honestly: Are you doing the basics to lose weight?
When you have the basics down, this is your opportunity to build momentum behind eating healthy with simple habits and create the motivation to keep going over time and make losing weight automatic.
With this process, eating healthy and losing weight can truly feel effortless.
How to Build Momentum & Finally Become a Healthy Eater (For Real)
1. Meet yourself where you are.
Don’t choose something just because you think it will give you the fastest results but is unrealistic for you to stick to for 30 days (and beyond). For example, if you think you “should” be meal prepping all of your meals, if you don’t meal prep anything or cook at home now, is that truly realistic? Start by prepping 1-2 meals a week first instead.
2. Choose no more than 1-2 strategies to commit to for the first 30 days.
Changing our habits and behaviors is hard! Yes, you will want to do more and you can, just not right now. This doesn’t mean you can’t try the other ideas at all; instead, it means you only commit to making 1-2 changes for the next 30 days before adding on more later.
3. Track your progress.
Tracking your follow-through on your commitments is your reality check. Don’t just guesstimate how you are doing!
4. Review your results.
Did you start out strong but then abandon it when you had a slip-up? Choose something too hard? Or did you choose something too easy and didn’t feel challenged?
Your two most powerful tools for reviewing your results and moving forward in the right direction are journaling and working with an accountability partner.
5. Rinse and repeat.
Now you’re ready for habit stacking, that is to say – build on your new foundation of healthy eating habits. Based on how you did, you can now add new habits in addition to the habits you have developed to take your healthy eating and weight loss to the next level.
45+ Habits You Can Start Right Now to Eat Healthier & Lose Weight
Note: You do not and should not do every tactic on this list! This list is long because we are all in different places with different lifestyles and different body types, so we each need different tactics to create healthy eating habits for weight loss. Remember, meet yourself where you are!
FOOD CHOICES + MACROS HABITS
1. Swap out a high carb breakfast for lean protein.
2. Eat low carb dinners.
3. Add a healthy food you normally don’t eat. For example, when’s the last time you had cottage cheese? This low carb, easy source of high protein can taste much better than you remember.
4. Eat homemade lunches.
5. Add vegetables to your protein shakes/smoothies.
6. Skip the desserts, treats and samples at work (including birthday cake!), playdates or any other run-of-the-mill place you go on a frequent basis. Think the free champagne at the hair salon, samples at Costco, donuts at church.
7. Add vegetables to breakfast.
8. Replace a regular indulgence with a lighter alternative.
9. Skip dessert some days, e.g. no dessert during the week.
10. Add a salad course before every dinner. This can be as simple as a plate of spring mix dressed with a light vinaigrette.
11. Get a new healthy cookbook and cook your way through it. Even if you don’t eat Trim Healthy Mama, I recommend the Trim Healthy Table Cookbook to everyone! Here’s a post with over 50 recipe reviews from the book, including my very favorites.
12. Give up one food you know you shouldn’t be eating.
13. Replace rice or pasta in a typical dish with a low carb vegetable like spiralized zucchini, cauliflower rice or edamame pasta.
14. Alternatively, add healthy carbs and resistant starch to your diet. (I lost five pounds in a month doing this.)
15. Take three-quarters (or half, if that seems like too much) the portions you normally have at dinner. Wait twenty minutes after finished and check your hunger to see if you really need the extra bites.
16. Leave two bites of food on your plate when you’d normally finish.
17. Eat lean, protein-only snacks.
18. Eliminate snacking. If that’s too much, eliminate one snack time of the day.
19. If you’re wanting to eat as a distraction (ie you’re not actually hungry), try taking a 10-15 minute break instead.
20. Never take a bite or finish food from your kids’ plates or snacks.
DINING ENVIRONMENT HABITS
21. Create a “Kitchen’s Closed” Ritual. Ideas to try include drinking hot tea after dinner or immediately brushing your teeth.
22. Make junk food play “hard to get.” For foods you keep at home but have a hard time resisting, wrap them in a taped plastic bag or aluminum foil and put them in an inconvenient place. Sounds silly, but it works! I use this trick for peanut butter.
23. Eat at least one meal a day without distractions/in front of a screen. (More if you already have this healthy habit!)
24. If you’re going to indulge in a “cheat meal,” eat it without distractions/screen time. Pizza and beer is not as much fun sitting at the table at home as it is zoning out on the couch in front of the TV.
25. Replace a time you’d go out for food/drinks with an activity instead. A pretty walk, a spin class or a cultural event is almost always more fun than a typical meal at a restaurant.
26. Eat on smaller plates. Unless you have a huge serving of healthy salad or other non-starchy vegetables on that huge dinner plate, you need a smaller plate. Salad plates are typically the perfect size for a whole dinner.
MEAL TIMING HABITS
27. Stop eating after a specific time, such as 8pm.
28. “Diet” only 1-2 days a week instead of 7. Have “Protein Thursdays,” a la the UK-famous Dukan Diet, experiment with intermittent fasting or try out a variation of the 5:2 diet such as eating 1800 calories 5 days a week, 800 the other two.
29. Eat according to your hunger, not reasons like the time, habit or because other people are eating. This is probably the number one skill to learn and put into practice!! It’s simple, not always easy.
30. Try replacing/delaying breakfast with an MCT coffee or tea.
31. Eat slower. In a group, pace yourself so you’re the slowest to finish eating. On your own, try drinking more water, putting your utensils down between bites and practice chewing more than you normally do.
MEAL PREP + PLANNING HABITS
32. Make a 24-hour food plan and stick to it no matter what.
33. Try meal prep. If you’ve never done it, don’t go nuts. Start with as little as prepping one meal a week, e.g. prepping salads for lunch.
34. Create an If-Then Plan. If your planned day of healthy eating gets off track, have a default “Plan B” with an If-Then Plan. Examples: “If I can’t get home in time to cook a healthy dinner, I’ll get a salad from Chipotle.” Or, “If I have a lunch meeting, I’ll get a salad with dressing on the side.” “If I have to go out for drinks, I will have max two glasses of wine and drink water in between.”
35. Make a meal plan. You don’t have to go crazy! Plan a couple recipes for each meal and some snack ideas, and you’re done!
36. Cook one healthy slow cooker recipe a week. These recipes typically make a lot and leftovers are almost always good. It’s “meal prep” the easy way.
37. Put a healthy meal on repeat. Pick one meal – breakfast is the easiest for most people – and eat the same thing every day during the week.
WATER + ALCOHOL HABITS
38. Drink a glass of water before eating a meal.
39. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.
40. If you drink alcohol, commit to drinking one glass of water between drinks.
41. Each week try new ways to get your water. Try new teas, homemade fresh lemonade sweetened with stevia, new flavors of seltzer and water infusion recipes.
42. Keep a food journal.
43. Review your food and drink intake at the end of each day. If you had a mistake, spend a few minutes writing about why you think it happened.
44. Share your food journals and review with an accountability partner. (This is an absolute game changer.)
45. Track calories for 3 days a week. Choose typical days that are a real representation of your day-to-day, not the “ideal” days you starve yourself before bingeing all weekend.
46. Keep a hunger scale journal to practice listening to your body. After years of dieting, most of us are out of touch with our body’s natural hunger cues.
Our goal with this process is to create lasting behavior change with a buildable toolbox of doable healthy eating habits that will drop weight and keep it off forever.
I know you can do it.