11 Nov How to get (and keep) the motivation to eat healthy
Do you struggle to find the motivation to eat healthy? If so, don’t worry because this blog post is for you. It will help you to find how to stay motivated to eat healthy. Healthy eating motivation can be tough to maintain because of the foods that we are surrounded by and what we’re used to. It’s also hard if health doesn’t come as a high priority for us. However, there are ways that you can battle against this lack of motivation and stay on top of your game. Keep reading below for tips that will help you get (and keep) the motivation needed to make healthier food choices!
Why might you be drawn to unhealthy foods?
The environment that we were born into counts a lot when considering why you might struggle with the motivation to eat healthy foods. If your mother ate a lot of fruits and vegetables and healthy foods while she was pregnant with you, then it is more likely that you developed a ‘taste’ for these kinds of foods. Furthermore, if you were served healthy foods when you were a child, you will have a preference for those kinds of foods as an adult.
On the other hand, if your mother tended to eat junk food while pregnant with you, and you were served unhealthy food as a child, then this would be your preference as an adult.
That is not to say that you can’t adapt to develop a preference for healthy foods. It just means that you should give yourself compassion and understanding if you are one of the people who doesn’t have an inbuilt ‘taste’ for vegetables and other healthy foods.
It is also another reason to pay careful attention to the foods that you reach for if you become pregnant. Your growing baby will develop a ‘taste’ for the foods that you eat when pregnant, so it is an important time to eat as many healthy foods as possible. The best way to encourage healthy eating motivation is to give your baby a head start in a taste for good health.
The impact of your biome
The other physiological feature that affects your preference for certain foods is your biome. Your biome is a colony of all the microorganisms that live in your gut. There are literally trillions of microorganisms living inside of your stomach, and they arise based on the foods that you eat. This part of your body will also impact how to stay motivated to eat healthy.
Some microorganisms thrive off complex carbohydrates like oats and wholegrains. Other microorganisms love dairy and cheese, and still, others enjoy meat. When you eat these foods, your microorganism populations grow. And they literally create ‘cravings’ for the foods that they need to digest to survive. This is why some people crave cheese or red meat or sugar!
The result is that you might feel a desire to eat certain foods and not others. This can cause problems for your motivation to eat healthy if the food that you crave isn’t good for your health, or if it’s high in calories.
However, there are steps that you can take to improve this situation too! You could try taking a probiotic supplement to boost the numbers of healthy microorganisms in your stomach. You could also try eating more fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha tea. These kinds of food are rich with live cultures that can help improve your biome and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods.
Train yourself into liking healthy foods
You might not have the motivation to eat healthy because you don’t like vegetables or other healthy foods. If this is how it is for you, then there are some steps that you can take to make these kinds of food more palatable.
The first thing that I would suggest trying is adding fat-rich dressings and sauces to your healthy dishes. A drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle of cheese can go a long way to making even the most boring vegetables taste more interesting!
Next, experiment with different cooking methods for these foods. Different techniques will help some types of food retain their nutrients while also improving how they taste. For example, lightly steaming some vegetables can help to preserve their nutrients, while adding a touch of flavour. You might also try baking some vegetables in the oven for crispy chips that you will love!
The other thing that I would suggest is changing up your healthy meals so they are less repetitive. If you eat salads or steamed broccoli every day, then it’s no wonder that you are getting bored! You might try eating your vegetables in different forms. For example, if it is zucchini season where you live then make some delicious zucchini fritters instead of steamed vegetables for dinner tonight!
The more you eat vegetables the more you like vegetables
The other good news is that if you do increase the variety of your meals and add tasty ingredients to your vegetables, you will eventually develop a ‘taste’ for fruits and vegetables. Healthy eating motivation is a habit that can be generated through what you eat.
Research shows that children need to taste a vegetable up to 20 times before it is accepted into their diet. It is also clear from the research that the more children eat vegetables the more they enjoy vegetables. And the same goes for you.
As you experiment with tasty vegetable-rich dishes, you will over time find that your cravings for unhealthy foods start to diminish, and you will start to crave vegetables instead.
Getting aligned with your values – what is behind your motivation to eat healthy?
We aren’t all obsessed with health. For some of us, health is an incredibly strong value. However, for others, health is not so much of a value. It can be helpful to consider your values when you are discovering your motivation to eat healthy.
Ask yourself ‘why is it important to me to eat healthy?’ And when you have your answer, ask yourself ‘why is that important?’ Until you get to the brass tacks of what value lies behind your desire to develop more healthy eating motivation.
It may be that you need to explore this values-based work with a psychologist or therapist, but once you are clear on the value behind your desire to learn how to stay motivated to eat healthy, this can be a powerful guiding star for your journey.
Once you are clear on what the value is for you, then it will be easier to set goals and make plans because you know WHY you are doing this.
What to do when you get off track
No matter what you do, life is going to get in the way. It might be a stressful time in your life that completely derails your motivation to eat healthy. The stress might cause you to rely on old comfort foods as a way of emotional eating to manage stress.
Or it might be that you go on holiday or go and stay with your parents for the holidays and find a natural break in your healthy eating regime.
As always, I feel like the best course of action is to be compassionate with yourself and trust the process. If you give yourself time to work through the upheaval, it will be resolved eventually and then you are likely to want to turn back to your initial value of eating healthy foods and exercising.
When you are ready, gather yourself together (along with your meal logging software) and make another start.
Every day that you eat healthy food is another day that you are protecting yourself from chronic illness and extending your lifespan.
Progress, not perfection. If you keep your value in mind, you will always be able to align with it, and renew your habits to build more motivation to eat healthy.
The motivation to eat healthy is an internal value that varies from person-to-person. If you struggle with motivation, try using these five tips for how to stay motivated to eat healthy: 1) Find your motivation and explore it; 2) Remember why eating healthy is important and how it will make a difference in the long run; 3) Make small changes like adding tasty ingredients or changing up what you’re making for dinner; 4) Don’t get discouraged when life gets in the way of your motivation—there’s always another day (and another chance); 5) Be kind to yourself if you slip up once in awhile – everyone needs support!