hand reaching around coffee mug to get a glass of water

Tiny Changes Add Up When it Comes to Eating Better

Ever been on a crash diet? I have.

Crash diets are not sustainable

Here are some extreme changes I tried to make with my eating habits over the years that crashed and burned: Giving up all sugar forever, going paleo, going vegan, going low fat vegan (which means no animal products AND no nut butter and also no happiness) eating nutritarian (don’t ask), going keto, and fasting.

None of these things lasted longer than a month (some didn’t even last two days), and here’s why: They’re way, way too extreme for the average person! It’s too much, too fast.

On the other hand, here are some healthy changes to my eating habits I’ve been able to make and stick to for the long term: drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, giving up snacking after dinner, and eating more vegetables, among others.

How did I make healthy changes that actually lasted?

I made the changes as small and easy as possible. That whole “go big or go home” thing? It does not work when it comes to long term eating changes, at least for me. If you’re the same, here’s how to make improvements to your eating habits that last.

Start small

I woke up one day feeling kind of blah and I realized I was not drinking enough water over the course of my days. I’m not a soda or sweetened drink kinda gal, but I do drink coffee and I will sometimes have an alcoholic beverage with dinner. I’d end up thirsty later in the day, and it was because I was pounding coffee first thing, maybe drinking some water here and there, then having a glass of wine with dinner. My ridiculously easy small change was that I told myself I had to have at least one eight ounce glass of water before I could have my coffee in the morning. Now it’s a habit and I look forward to it (but not as much as I look forward to my coffee). This little change also makes me want to drink more water throughout the day, and now I feel much less dehydrated. Pick something small, I tell ya.

Congratulate yourself often

If you’re making any sort of change to improve your life, no matter how small, please go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. Positive encouragement is going to go a lot farther than telling yourself how much you still need to change and how you’re not doing enough.

Do one thing at a time

Don’t pick 10 tiny things to change at once (drinking eight glasses of water a day, giving up alcohol, giving up dessert, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, skipping carbs at dinner, etc.), because now you’re no longer making tiny changes, you’re making huge changes. Make a list of the things you’d like to improve, pick the one that sounds easiest (please start with an easy one), and implement it. Once you get the hang of it (‘cause you picked something easy, right?), then implement something else.

Try these steps and you’ll see you can achieve whatever you want, you just need to take it one tiny step at a time.

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