So, You Want to Eat Better…

healthy food choices

Although the #1 New Year Resolution is to eat better, few people achieve success (or at least long term success) in doing so. This year, I don’t want you to experience what most people will – struggle, fumbling around, giving in, or giving up. This year, I want you to succeed, to feel vibrantly alive, energized, confident and ready to take on whatever 2015 brings forth. I want you to radiate and glow with vitality, to passionately pursue your goals and dreams with vigor, and conquer your challenges feeling fit, strong, free and empowered. To help you do this, I am sharing a post by Mark Moschel called Upgrade Your Willpower: Brain Hacks to Achieve Your Goals”.  In it he explains his “failure-proof system to make one new habit stick”. Whether your goal is improved nutrition or something else all together, it provides a strategic map for establishing new habits – and making them stick. Below I use his plan to focus on improved nutrition and establishing a whole-foods based diet. However, I challenge you to come up with your own HABIT to focus on, and then one or two of your own examples for each tip. (If you do, by the end you’ll have your own unique bullet-proof no-fail system for getting ONE nutrition habit to stick.)

  1. Focus on PROGRESS rather than the end goal.  This keeps you in the present moment and in the process.  When our focus is on the goal only, we lose the process and often the desired habit once the goal is met. e.g. Focus on establishing a whole-food based diet rather than a weight loss goal.
  2. Reduce WILLPOWER & create SYSTEMS.  Willpower fades with use and then leads us to poor decisions. I find it easiest to avoid willpower battles when I eliminate “all-or-nothing” thinking and telling myself I can’t have something. Instead I focus on what I CAN have, and the vision I WANT to achieve. Then, I create systems around it. Systems to ensure habits can’t fail include:
  3. Make the Habit Inevitable. Mark suggests two ways of doing this:
  • Make doing it easier than not doing it. e.g. Have veggies already washed, cut up, in baggies and ready to go (it’s easier to grab them on the way out the door than go to food court during the day for an emergency snack); keep nuts/seeds stashed in drawer at work and in glove compartment of car (easier to snack on those to alleviate mid-afternoon or after-work hunger than to wait in line somewhere).
  • Increase motivation. e.g. Post nourishing/inspiring images on fridge/inside pantry; Post a motivating screensaver on computer or phone that reminds you of your “why”; enter into some friendly competition with friends or family (“loser” makes healthy dinner for everyone; make a vision board).

inspired vision board

  1. Create Microhabits. e.g. Aim for at least ONE leafy green at lunch and dinner; Think of “eating the rainbow”… go for at least 3 different colors in each meal; Allow Michael Pollen to inspire you… think: “If it came from a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant don’t.”.
  2. Optimize your Environment so it is conducive to your success. e.g. Purge your fridge and pantry of unwanted temptations; Organize your kitchen and dining area – make it beautiful, so you feel welcomed, nourished and supported in it (did you know studies show we eat more in cluttered environments?)Beautify your dining table and create a ritual for enjoying your nourishing meal (perhaps a nice table setting; candles; fresh flowers; soft music – may it not be just for romantic company, but the love of feeling and being vital and strong.)
  3. Use Negative Reinforcement strategies. e.g. Use a deduction system like in the Nourish Program; Commit to donating $20 to “Feed The Hungry” or “Canadian Diabetes Association” for each fast-food/processed meal that you consume each week.
  4. Use Positive Reinforcement strategies. (If weight loss is desired, keep it non-food related, to disrupt the habit of food as reward.) e.g. Place a star on your calendar for each day you achieve 3 whole-food based meals a day (it’s amazing how well this works, even for adults!); Use a scoring system like in the Nourish Program; Have a support buddy to report to – share and celebrate your successes over the week.).
  5. Design Pattern Disruptors.  The disruptor is an “if… then… ” statement and commitment. e.g. “If I have a processed meal then I will ensure I ALSO have at least one serving of raw or lightly steamed veggies”; “If I dine-out at lunch, then I will create a healthy meal for dinner with focus on veggies”; “If I have an alcoholic drink, then I will follow it with a glass of water or soda with lemon.”.


  1. Use your Higher Power in support of your higher vision. This one is not on Mark’s list, but something I’ve found extremely powerful with clients and people in general.  Connecting with a higher power is the basis of 12-step programs, and lends incredible support.  Questions to consider: How might your vision be of service to your higher self?  To your higher power?  To who you are and who you are becoming? How can your higher power support you in achieving your vision? Lean on it, allow it to support you and in turn you it.
  2. Re-frame your identification with food. Again, this is not on Mark’s list, but another powerful practice. Becoming aware of how you identify with food, and re-framing it so it aligns with your vision is key to long-term habit change.  Until your vision and your identification with food align (e.g. I love feeling fit, strong and vibrant and am a lover of vibrant, whole-foods) there will likely be struggle.When you identify yourself as someone who eats clean, there IS room for a burger or slice of pizza every once in a while, without risk of falling back into old habits.  But when you identify yourself as someone who loves burger and fries, and is only eating clean to lose weight or achieve a specific end goal, you can rest assured that you will revert back to old habits once your goal is achieved – if not before.Consider your vision.  Consider how you view food and how you identify with it. Do they align?  IF not, consider how you can re-frame things so they do.  And then it’s a matter of practicing it until it’s a habit and no longer conscious..

If you use the above plan to support your own nutrition or other health-related goal, I’d love to hear from you.  Did it work?  Not work?  What do you like about it?  Not like about it?  Feel free to leave comments below, and be sure to check out Mark’s full blog post here. I’m on a mission to improve the health, vitality and overall well-being of our nation.  If you like this post, please share with others.

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