The definition of a habit: to do something with an automatic response. Good habits are making your bed first thing when you get up, folding the clothes as you take them out of the dryer; filling your pantry with only healthy ingredient foods and monitoring your weight. Habits that are destructive are eating out of the bag. There is a subtitle in my program, Habits that Sabotage Our Weight Loss, where I list 24 different ways that we sabotage our wellbeing and weight loss with the WHAT/WHY/HOW we eat our food.

This is the thing… setbacks are normal and situations are not always perfect, but one thing is for sure, there is always a solution. Falling short of our desired nutritional and weight-loss goals can be to our benefit. It can show us amazing discoveries about ourselves and how we can create new strategies! “He who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” In The nofad Weight Loss program, my clients and I strategize together to find solutions for tough situations. Journaling short-comings and disappointments is a huge step in the process of reaching goals. It’s also a great way to stay mindful of successes. Get into the HABIT of identifying problems and finding solutions:  

Go Explore! Outside of our ethnic dishes that we enjoy, we can’t even imagine the resources of flavor that we miss out on by not going outside of our comfort zone. Each ethnic group has its own unique foods. For instance, I use cashews in my recipes to add flavor, more protein, fat, or to just increase texture. The definition for cashews in recipes: “Used in cooking in the Far East and may be found in ethnic food from those areas.” But my recipe is not considered Far Eastern because I use cashews. I grew up never tasting an avocado, jicama or mango. My unique ethnic foods were fresh fennel and fresh fig. They are absolutely delicious! A birthday gift from my daughter this year was a case of 20 fresh figs. What a treat! From a very young age, my oldest son loved cheese. As a reward for being so patient while I shopped, I’d make him choose a different cheese each week. We’d have so much fun discovering the new taste. It was quite an experience for me, and these cheeses transformed my recipes! Today, I’m still finding new foods to taste. Make it a habit to explore different foods and recipes.

Never say never! Did you ever say about a food or meal: “Yuck, I’ll never eat that again!” This happened to me when my grandfather offered me a bitter vegetable. He was my grandpa, so I couldn’t refuse him! But later in life, I thought about this veggie with delight! I prepared it a little differently than my grandpa did; I saute’ garlic, adding it to the steamed veggie and then sprinkling fresh parmesan cheese on top. When there’s a food that you disliked in the past, try using other methods of cooking or mixing it with another food, making it palatable to your liking. We miss out on nutritional and antioxidant benefits when we get in a food rut. I hated mushrooms when I was growing up. My friend’s father forced me to taste a barbecued mushroom and I almost threw-up. I knew I’d never eat them again. But when my mom baked mushrooms stuffed with bread crumbs and cheese, I gave it a try and loved it! Thankfully, I now like mushrooms, cooked every way, even barbecued! Sometimes our pallet will adjust to different tastes and textures at different times of our lives. Make it a habit to look for different ways of preparing dishes/foods to fit your taste buds. You’ll find great ideas in cook books and online!

Be prepared! While running errands, do you find yourself so hungry you stop for a fast-food sandwich or a sweet? At work, do you order out for lunch? When you get the munchies, do you mindlessly eat out of the box? Do you eat to a response of enjoyment or fellowship? Does losing a few pounds make you reward yourself with sweets and ice cream? Be prepared with healthy protein snacks and water when you’re out and about, and bring food/left-overs to work, preparing it the night before: “Success starts the night before.” Think about treating yourself to a new article of clothing as a reward; and select a small meal over a sweet when socializing. Restaurant eating could completely demolish any will-power and set you back. Think of how you can eat out like you would eat at home. Basically, you be in control, not the menu! For instance, you wouldn’t eat three pieces of bread before you eat a home-cooked meal. Make it a habit to be prepared, making the decision to eat healthily and to eat healthy foods even if someone else doesn’t. Be aware of WHY you eat.

Put the fork down! Eating too fast always becomes a digestive problem. Distractions like talking or eating in a hurry makes us swallow large pieces of food, causing us to suffer from loss of nutrition! Take a self-challenging test by chewing a bite of food with your eyes closed and with no distractions; chew slowly. When this test is over, what you’ll notice is the heightened awareness of the savory taste and the distinctive texture of the food. We all can experience indigestion or acid reflux at some point. If you think you’ve resolved it by taking an antacid, you are mistaken. Acid reflux is not because you have too much acid. The acid is there to get your food digested so you can absorb the nutrients. Taking an antacid or guzzling down water only weakens your digestive enzymes! Eating with poor posture is another reason that causes us to get acid reflux. Although acid reflux applies to everyone, I noticed that men 5’10” and taller complained about it the most. Putting the fork down with every third bite, sitting up straight, and leaning on the back of your chair allows the food to travel down into the stomach. Do this as often as necessary for your body to heal. Be mindful about HOW you eat. 

Realize it’s a problem! Being hungry or sleepy a short time after eating  is not normal. Food should always make you feel energized, never sick or tired! Lack of water can bring on hunger quickly; or maybe your last meal was too starchy, causing your stomach to empty too quickly. Look to see what food or food combination made you feel sick or weak. Are you hungry shortly after eating breakfast? For some people, shortly after their “first” breakfast,  they need “another” breakfast. This is because the adrenal activity in each individual is different, requiring more calories to sustain energy. In this case, the “second” breakfast should have plenty of protein, fat and fiber. But assess if your first breakfast was too sugary or if you’re sleep deprived, which raises the hormone that increases our desire for sweets. For sugar cravings, consider salty foods like cheese, bacon or celery that curb our cravings for sweets. If you’re on a salt-restricted diet, Google for a list of potassium-rich foods. Contemplate WHAT is normal and WHAT is not normal, and know that food is the answer to the problem.