Healthy Eating: Consistency Is the KeySeptember 20, 2017
Healthy Eating: Consistency Is the Key
It doesn’t matter if you are lifting weights, playing a sport, or learning how to paint; your success will largely be determined by your consistency. Now, when you’re talking about healthy eating, consistency may be even more important. Being consistent will help you develop a behavioral change that will make it easier and easier to adhere to your healthy diet. It will also help keep you out of those all-too-common downward spirals that lead to failure.
If you are like many of us, consistency may be a virtue that you feel like you don’t possess. Fortunately, consistency is a skill that, with proper planning, can be learned. One way to learn how to remain consistent with your healthy diet is to follow a behavioral change model. At its core, the Transtheoretical Model of Change can be successful for developing long-term changes in your diet because it allows you to make a plan, put it into action, develop the behavioral change in your diet, and effectively account for times when you “fall off the wagon.”
The stages of the Transtheoretical Model are:
- Precontemplation Stage- During this stage, you have yet to make the decision to eat healthy.
- Contemplation Stage- Now, you understand the benefits of changing your diet.
- Preparation Stage- This may be where you find yourself at right now. In this stage, you are seriously making an attempt to eat better and make healthier food choices. The only issue is that you’re lacking consistency.
- Action Stage- You’ve now been following a consistent diet of healthy foods for at least 6 months. You are developing a behavioral change, and healthy eating has become almost second-nature.
- Maintenance Stage- You have now solidly developed a behavioral change of consistently eating healthy. Once you have entered this stage, you are less likely to return to a behavior of unhealthy eating.
No matter what stage you find yourself in, this model can be a tremendous help to your healthy lifestyle. However, the only way it works is if you keep doing it. Not sometimes, or most of the time, but all the time.
It’s Not Prison
Making healthy eating a part of your life is by no means a prison sentence. On the contrary, if you are eating healthy at every meal, then there is no reason that you can’t enjoy a not-so-healthy meal at a restaurant with your friends. The supreme benefit of consistency is the fact that having one of these “bad” meals on occasion will not throw your entire diet off course. Your consistency has created a change in your behavior, and a single meal will no longer lead to an entire day, week, or year of bad eating.
While we’re on the subject of bad meals, we should address how scheduling a cheat meal into your diet can actually throw all of your hard work out the window and cause a relapse of poor eating choices. Life has a way of forcing us to eat bad meals at some point; probably a lot more frequently than we would like. Working late, kids have an unexpected trip to the doctors, you sat in traffic forever, or you just had “one of those days,” and now you have to grab a bad meal. Is there really a reason to schedule a time to eat badly if it will find us anyway? No one will tell you that developing a life-long habit of eating healthy will be easy, but by staying consistent and developing a behavioral change, it is more than possible. Remember, if you have a bad meal, it’s not the end of the world. Just start right back where you left off.