Why does changing eating habits have to be so hard? Overcoming old addictions and mustering up enough self-discipline to stick to the new diet can feel overwhelming, no matter how determined you are. By focusing on what you eat and ignoring how you approach healthy eating, you can even create obstacles that prevent you from having a nurturing relationship with food. It’s not uncommon to become so obsessed with eating the “right” foods that your diet turns into a source of anxiety and frustration rather than a way to create harmony.
Here are some common obstacles in approaching healthy eating and how these challenges can be overcome:
1. Problem: You depend on healthy eating to fix everything. Sure, eating mostly clean, energy-dense foods like fresh veggies and nourishing whole grains will make you healthier. But relying on your diet to make you happier, feel more secure, or transform your whole life can lead to disappointment at best and, even worse, to an unhealthy obsession with eating “right.”
Solution: Instead of demanding that your food transform your life, try eating just a little more healthfully—without expectations or judgments. A peaceful, and self-forgiving, mindset can bring you joy right now, whereas eating only the most nutritious foods in a state of anxiety and self-conflict will defeat the purpose of eating better.
2. Problem: You are trying to make dramatic dietary changes too suddenly. Not only will this make the detoxification process more difficult, it may cause you to abandon your healthy eating goals altogether, after a short burst of determined effort, and simply return to your prior eating habits.
Solution: Take baby steps. Try to eat mostly plants and whole grains, gradually increasing your intake of nourishing foods that appeal to you the most. Avoid the worst offenders: processed foods, junk foods, sugars, and nutrient-empty carbs. If you manage these two general guidelines and eat with mindful attention you won’t need such zealous determination to stick to your self-imposed rules.
3. Problem: You are letting the advice of others replace your body’s wisdom. Reading health books and getting advice from diverse sources will help you gather information and establish the lifestyle habits that serve you. But don’t allow the advice of the experts to override the needs of your body. Only you know what feels right for you.
Solution: When we practice yoga asana, the guideline is generally to use the instructor’s words as steppingstones while ultimately relying on your inner teacher to fully express your practice. Eating healthfully is similar: the key isn’t to do what you’re told, adhering perfectly to external guidelines, but rather to use outside information to inform the changes you incorporate into the diet that’s ideal for your unique constitution, preferences, and capacity.
In essence, mindfully discovering your individual path to wellness is a lot like practicing yoga on the mat: it’s important and enjoyable to stay in the moment without projecting into the future, to be gentle with yourself, to take it at your own pace, and to be sensitive to the voice of your inner wisdom.