Don’t eat this. Don’t eat too much of that. If you don’t lose weight now, you’ll be sorry later. Dietary advice is rife with the negative. Consider accentuating the positive to increase your chances of success with your weight loss goals for 2017.
Eating healthier to achieve your weight loss goals will rest largely on motivation and food choices. You can approach these factors either positively or negatively. Will it make a difference?
Pleasure and pain
Psychologists believe we’re driven to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. Our brain even has a specific chemical response to reward us when we find pleasure. For example, if you’re overweight, you might think eating is an effective way to relieve stress. If this is the case, your brain will reward you for overeating, even though it threatens your health.
To break this habit, you can choose to motivate yourself positively or negatively. For example, negative motivation is running away from pain. It is the type that gets you to eat less and exercise more because you’re afraid of getting diabetes or heart disease. For negative motivation to work, you must have a strategy in place for eating healthier and losing weight. Without a strategy, negative motivation can leave you feeling paralyzed, helpless and depressed.
Short vs long-term
Overeating to relieve stress is a short-term reward. Losing weight is a long-term goal. Using positive motivation, you focus on future rewards. Visualizing how receiving your reward of achieving a healthy weight will change your life is a great form of positive motivation.
Key factors to positive motivation for a long-term goal are confidence in your abilities and assurance that the changes you’re making will lead to the rewards. Because you can’t get there overnight, the best way to stay motivated is to find reward in the changes you’re making. Enjoying healthy eating could be rewarding enough to help you persevere.
Avoid the negative
To enjoy healthy eating, avoid the negative. Don’t dwell on foods you can’t have. Focus on all the new foods that you can include in your diet. Explore new tastes, textures and sensory experiences. Don’t think about avoiding such foods as processed foods, bacon, ramen and microwave popcorn. Think about replacing them.
For example, turn popcorn into an adventure by using an air popper and seasoning your popcorn with onion, garlic or chili powder, or cinnamon. Instead of chips, grab a handful of peanuts in the shell. Peanuts are full of high quality protein to build and repair muscles, and heart-healthy unsaturated fat. The shell will keep you occupied, slow you down, plus give you a full range of nutrients.
Include mushrooms in your diet as another healthy, high-quality protein. Put them in a stir-fry, a salad, or a sandwich instead of meat for a smorgasbord of nutrients: vitamin D for your immune system, copper and magnesium for a healthy heart and blood vessels, and selenium to prevent cancer. Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are another low calorie, nutrient rich food that can help you eat less meat. Legumes are also rich in fiber, that can help you eat less overall.
These are just a few examples of how to focus on the positive attributes of changing your diet to eat healthier and lose weight. You can remind yourself with a verse from an old song you may have heard, written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer in 1944:
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between