Friday, August 12, 2011

Old Tastebuds, New Tricks

I came across this article yesterday and it was the perfect explanation for something that I blather on about to people all the time in a much more long-winded way: how to retrain your taste buds to actually crave healthier foods. It's a simple concept, but not always so simple to put into practice until you are really ready for change. But, with the holidays on the horizon (trust me, Halloween candy will be on the shelves in the blink of an eye) this is the perfect time to prepare your mind for the sugar that lies ahead.

The article focuses on one detail: we crave what we eat a lot of.  So, to crave healthy food you have to EAT healthy food!  Simple, but not always easy!  Well, not at first. Habits can be hard to establish, but luckily the habit of healthy eating has such quick rewards that sticking to it isn't as hard as we anticipate it will be. 

The real clincher in this process goes back to one of my tools of goal-achievement: Intention.  Simply put: doing stuff on purpose. Eating with the intent of training your tastebuds to crave different food takes focus, determination, and intention.  Here are some ways you can achieve it:

1. Assess and alter your environment. Are you expecting yourself to not eat chocolate anymore, but you have bags of candy in the pantry for other people? Do you have habits that frequently put you face to face with what you're trying to avoid?  Get rid of it!  Change your routine! Change your pantry. Real change requires real change.

2. Look and plan ahead. For me, it's weekends. All week I trot right through happily on my plan, and then Saturday morning it's all wonked out. My routine is erratic, I'm invited to a party, or I'm bored and my mind wanders. So, I anticipate that and plan for it. I make sure I have a schedule, even if it's not filled with work. I volunteer to bring something to the party to share with everyone else.  And, I keep my hands busy! 

3. Dig in your heels. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your own wellness is to get stubborn and adopt a "my way or the highway," mentality. No, that doesn't mean everyone else has to bend to your will, but 9 times out of 10 am able to stick to my plan in the face of chaos. It takes determination and sheer will, but again: real change takes REAL CHANGE.  

4. Get a support system. I have clients and friends who text me in those hard times. It's not unusual for my phone to beep all weekend with messages like, "I'm at the wedding! They're bringing out the cake!  Distract me!"  Or, "at a bbq joint, not making eye contact with the dessert menu..."  And, I send them to friends, as well!  We all need our support systems and they really really help. 

The article I linked to also has some great tips. You can get rid of your penchant for whatever is holding you back or just plain annoying you in your nutrition. Try some of these this weekend and remember: get out there and get healthy!

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