Begin with the end in mind—Are you attempting to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle? Have you got longevity in mind or are you trying to eliminate something that’s causing you problems (like lactose or gluten)? Knowing where you’d like to go with your new eating plan will help get you started and keep you on track when the going gets tough.
Let change be gradual—There are many great and healthy diet options: paleo, vegan, vegetarian, heavy-protein, gluten-free, low-calorie, low-sugar. Rather than trying to make a drastic change, begin by educating yourself. Then increase healthy foods while decreasing unhealthy, highly-processed ones as you develop better eating habits.
Set realistic goals—Setting initial goals too high can be a recipe for failure. If losing weight is your goal, for instance, the recommended rate of healthy weight loss is only one to two pounds a week. Realistically, losing 5 or 10 percent of your body fat is an admirable and attainable goal.
Any change is challenging, especially when it involves something you do several times a day—like eating and drinking.
Enlist a buddy—Find someone who’s interested in making some changes too, and commit to hold each other accountable. Find a walking partner. Text a picture of your bathroom scale to a friend every Monday. Exchange vegan or paleo recipes with a group. Knowing another set of eyes is watching may be enough to ward off temptation.
Reward yourself—Once you set achievable goals, decide on some “mini goals” and reward yourself as you reach each one. If you lose five pounds or make it to the gym five days in a row, or if you go a month without soda or other taboo foods, do something nice to pamper and reward yourself.
Eat what you like—If you don’t enjoy what you’re eating, your new plan may be doomed from the start. Whether you’re eliminating meat or another category of food; whether you’re eating only raw or only locally-grown produce, look for food that satisfies and excites you. And vary your menu to keep things interesting!
Forgive yourself—Know going in that you will slip up. When you do, a good motto is “do the next right thing.” Forgive yesterday and do better today. And take note of when your slip-ups occur so you know when you’re most vulnerable—then decide how you’ll avoid temptation the next time.