When it comes to changing our food plans, we naturally concentrate on calories, carbs, keto, fat grams, drinking more water, etc. But according to neuroscientists, no diet can stick if we don’t change other things as well. How can we change our lifestyles so we can eat healthy and stay healthy for good? The answer is what neuroscientists call “chunking.” When we chunk positive behaviors together, that is, make several changes for good all at once and not a single one independent of others, the individual changes will stick. Think of it as ‘lifestyle physics,’ that is, like attracts like. One positive change attracts other positive changes.
With that in mind, here are 15 “chunks” you can use to make your new food plan permanent in your life.
15 Ways to Make Your New Food Plan Permanent
1 Identify the triggers that can ambush you. For the good to stick together, the bad has to go, so we have to identify the things that blow up the good. Are they carbs? thinking you need a food reward? stress? boredom? emotional pain? procrastination? social pressure? Nail the saboteurs down ahead of time and plan a counter-strike. It’s not a matter of if these challenges will come along, it’s when, and will you be ready for them?
2 Learn to be happy with less. This is a lifestyle mindset, and it’s the glue that holds the good things together. If we can be contented people who are easily pleased, we’re okay without stuff. We don’t need garnishments on the mantle, on our clothes, or on our food. When was the last time you enjoyed the taste of the burger off the grill without all the toppings, but maybe just with a little salt? This less-is-more mindset extends way beyond food. Even cars and clothes are considered classic if they don’t have a lot of embellishments, like the plain but beautiful Mercedes style, or like Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress. The classic, less-is-more mindset will go a long way in making life more streamlined, less cluttered, and lean. Think of it as a healthy food plan with a matching lifestyle.
3 Connect with like-minded people, others like you, who want to live well. There are people out there who would really like to connect with you, and together, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with. To meet people like you, check out our Facebook groups.
4 Recognize a food addiction if you have one. We can’t change something if we pretend it’s not there, so this behavior is crucial. And don’t be embarrassed if you do have an addiction. If you’re addicted, you’ve had help by the media, by the addition of high fructose corn syrup (highly addictive) in your food, by social pressures, and more. Food addiction is a complex situation and not one you should feel guilty over. Now, though, is your time to shine. “Call the kettle black,” name the addiction, and move on. This step gives powerful momentum.
5 Strive for excellence, not perfection. Excellence happens. Perfection doesn’t.
6 Eliminate negativity around you. This might mean changing friends if yours are dragging you down or keeping a dark cloud over your head whenever you’re together. Be the person – or become the person – who sees the good side of things. This is a critical thinking skill when it comes to eating healthy. We have to learn to celebrate progress and good things no matter how small.
7 Stop being critical of others. Those critical of others are also critical of themselves, and that sabotages success. It’s a behavior that’s got to go.
8 Remove the junk that could make you fail. Clean out all the unhealthy food from the house as much as possible. If you can’t get rid of it because the family will protest, ask them to hide it from you.
9 Weigh yourself just once a week, if that. Checking your weight frequently can turn into an obsession and work against you. Plateaus are going to happen on any diet, so if you check your weight every day and you run into a plateau, it can seriously knock you off plan. You’ll be able to tell if you’re losing weight by how your clothes feel so let that be your gauge for a while.
10 Create visible triggers for good. If visible triggers can work against you, like open boxes of donuts, then visible triggers can also work for you. Create little visible proofs in your house or work space that will remind you that you’re changing, not just your food. For example, choose one counter top area in the kitchen and keep it clear and clean, or keep your desk cleared off, or make the bed every day, or hang up your clothes, or keep one room free of clutter. Let visible triggers serve you in a positive way for a permanent change. Remember, changing our food has to be part of a lifestyle change. It’s not an end in itself. Isolating eating behavior from other behaviors can’t result in permanent change.
11 Be accountable to others and stay real. We have VLCD accountability groups just for that.
12 Drink more water: half your weight in ounces.
13 Break up your romance with food. Find new things to love so food can just be food.
14 Determine the best time for you to eat. For example, you could top-load your protein in the mornings so you have all day to burn off the calories. You might also consider doing Intermittent Fasting, maybe starting with 12 hours for fasting and 12 hours for eating. Any period of self-denial will bulk up those discipline muscles and those are the most important muscles of all.
15 Invest in what you need to make your new food plan permanent. For example, get used to spending an extra dollar on the bagged salads or pre-cut veggies so they’re ready when you need them; invest in a high powered blender like this refurbished Vitamix (refurbished, aka smart), or this Blendtec blender (think 40-calorie ice cream!). Get a food processor or a Veggie Bullet that will help you slice, dice, and prep foods on your plan; budget grocery money for monthly supplies of gelatin and/or collagen protein powder, or stock up on one cup glass bowls with lids so you can store small meal servings in the freezer. Get a few little things at a time or save up a little at a time for one big thing. Remember – one lunch at a restaurant can be $20-50.00, so why not invest it in what will make you and your family healthier for years to come!?
So it’s chunking, that is, connecting lots of good behaviors together, while eliminating the detrimental ones and the risks that can sabotage you, that will change your diet into a lifestyle that will take care of you for the rest of your life.
What other positive changes can you make to make the VLCD work for you – permanently?
We’re stronger together,