Healthy habits can be difficult to maintain. Here are some that have worked for me.
Like many people, I struggled to lose weight after I turned forty. I would lose three pounds, then gain five, lose two, then gain one. I knew if I was going to break the cycle, I had to make changes – and not just any changes. Whatever I decided to do needed to be both systemic enough to make a difference as well as simple enough to be sustainable. In part 1 below, I share how I changed what (and more recently when) I ate. In part 2 here, I share my other healthy habits.
I typically eat breakfast on the go, so my default is a home-baked, unprocessed muffin or other quick bread. Bonus points if the recipe includes a good amount of protein. I try to stay away from dairy, so cereal isn’t my usual thing, but I do put a splash of almond or coconut milk in my coffee.
And a recent chat with my doctor – who recently was certified in integrative medicine – suggests that skipping or delaying breakfast may actually be even more helpful to your overall health. The idea, called intermittent fasting, calls for eating within an 8-10 hour period and allowing 14-16 hours for digestion. I haven’t had a lot of time to experiment with this yet, and, of course, I am not a medical professional, but it’s definitely “food for thought.”)
Depending on my (highly variable) day – I eat a small, protein-packed lunch or two to three high-protein snacks in lieu of lunch. Of course, when a special occasion presents itself, I don’t sit on the sidelines entirely, it means I go for just a salad at dinner.
If lunch was large, then dinner is just a salad. But otherwise, I eat a smaller amount of what I feed my family and add a big salad to it. If I eat the salad first, I find I’m not starving and can eat a reasonable portion of pasta, chicken, or whatever is on the menu.
I am a chocolate lover, and tend to have a sweet tooth, so giving up dessert entirely is not a sustainable option for me. Luckily, I prefer dark chocolate, which tends to have less sugar, and I try to temper it by going for a small handful of chocolate-covered almonds, for example, or another bite-sized treat. By NOT skipping out on the occasional birthday cake or nostalgic holiday sweet, I feel less deprived and I’m more likely to pass right by the random box of donuts on a Tuesday morning.