The month of October is all about food and eating habits. Last month, after I returned from the National Arbonne Trainings Conference, I decided with lots of other people to do our 30 Days of Healthy Living programme, a lifestyle programme to detox the body and help people adopt better eating habits. As I hadn't done it before and nutrition is one of our three product lines, it was time to experience it myself.
I started on the 1st of October and a few days into the programme, the email from the Simple Year 2017 programme hit my inbox with the subject line 'Food.' I opened the documents and smiled when I read about principles for healthy eating, why it is important to establish healthy eating habits, how to develop these habits, examples of healthy food choices, and recipes to get started.
The Simple Year programme described and confirmed what I had just set out to do for the next 30 days. Last year, I would have still thought that this was a coincidence; however, after all that happened to me this year, I believe it is Divine Order.
October was meant to be the month to establish healthy eating habits, or in my case, to refine them. I stopped drinking coffee eight years ago and have reduced my meat intake significantly over the past three years. These days, I only eat chicken and fish or choose vegetarian options. The hardest part for me was to eliminate dairy from my diet, as I love cheese and yogurt.
What is your goal?
It's important to set goals when you start to change your eating habits. For the 30 Days of Healthy Living, mine was not so much losing weight but rather find out how my body feels when I am not ingesting dairy, gluten, alcohol, soy, and corn. However, there are many participants who wanted to lose weight and who have shed several kilos in the first weeks of the programme. The main observation I made was that I feel less hungry than usual. Plus, my body seems to digest everything much easier and quicker, which makes me feel lighter and fitter on a daily basis.
To achieve the best results possible, it is highly recommended to complement nutrition with exercise and mindfulness. I practise yoga and meditation five times a week and add some walking (at least 45 minutes) if I can. Of course, there are days when I am not exercising because life comes in the way and plans need to be changed, but once you have established an exercising habit, it doesn't matter if you miss out one day.
Grocery shopping when I first started the 30 Days of Healthy Living.
6 Healthy eating principles
The Simple Year programme suggests to work out what works for your body and follow these six healthy eating principles:
- Find what works for you
- Eat real food
- Eat lots of vegetables
- Include saturated fats
- Eliminate sugar
- Reduce grains, especially wheat
I agree with everything except the first point. For some people, it can be hard to work out what works for them, if they don't have any guidance. Therefore, I recommend starting with a guided programme, such as Arbonne's 30 Days of Healthy Living, to bridge the gap between now and the future. Plus, it is much easier if you do it in a group where people hold each other accountable.
If you fail at something and you truly attempted it, it's still a success. You're just going to have to do it a few more times.
The secret to changing your habits
If you are like most people, changing habits is not easy. We all have tried it before – think of your New Year's Resolutions – and failed. No matter how much willpower you have on the first day of the year, your resolutions won't come true if you don't train your brain to accept your new normal step-by-step. Changing habits, no matter in which area of your life, starts with your mindset. You have to look more closely at all your old assumptions and beliefs you hold around a specific topic. Working towards a healthier lifestyle and conscious eating is similar to the process of de-cluttering your home. If you make de-cluttering a habit, your home won't be messy any longer. You need to establish a routine, doing the same things over and over again to train your brain what is the new normal. In his book The Organized Mind, Daniel J. Levitin emphasises that establishing routines is the most powerful lever to achieve the results.
I like this article, the Simple Year Programme suggested for further reading:
Number 3 suggests doing a 30-day challenge, as it takes consistent action over that period of time to change a habit.
Number 14 encourages you to establish a support system for the days you struggle. Another reason to follow a guided programme with lots of people in the same boat as you.
Number 29 sums it up perfectly: Be kind to yourself. If you fail to achieve your goals, analyse what went wrong and why, and keep going another month. Just be consistent and focused. Rome wasn't built in a day either.