Overcoming The Challenges Of Creating Healthy Eating Habits

Jan 14, 2021

Shalayne Smith Needham: For a lot of us, New Year’s is a time of resolutions. And for that new me, however, we often fall short of meeting our goals. Joining me today is Teresa Hunsaker with USU extension to talk about forming good eating habits this new year. 

First, let's talk about the main benefits of forming good eating habits. Why is this such an important goal any time of year?

Teresa Hunsaker: You know, I think part of it is that we just feel better. Overall, our mental health is affected by good eating habits and physical health. So, we feel better when our mental health is feeling good and our physical health is feeling good. It seems to make a big difference. So, I think that is some of the biggest benefits of healthy eating.

SSN: Teresa, what is it about changing habits, particularly our eating habits, that make it so difficult? Why do we struggle so much with this particular goal?

TH: I think the biggest reason for most of us struggling is that we don't have a plan. That's the number one thing that is not in place. For many of us, it's not just enough to say I'm going to eat less sugar, or I'm going to eat less fat, or whatever- I have to have a plan. 

What's going to take the place of the sugary foods?  I need to build something into my menu; I need to change my shopping list; I need to plan time accordingly to have snacks prepared, and that's kind of a crunch for people. 

We always go to the simplest thing. Typically, those are high sugar, high-fat kinds of foods, maybe processed foods, etc. So not having a plan is the biggest deterrent to actually eating healthy.

SSN: Finally, you talked a lot about different ways that we can reach this goal. But what's the most important piece of advice you can offer those of us who would like to change our eating habits?

TS: Slow down, take smaller bites to intentionally savor the flavor. Don't be mindlessly scarfing down to fill that empty spot from not eating all day or whatever. 

Use smaller plates and plan for smaller meals throughout the day. These are kind of that healthy snacking. Then, definitely build in some treats. 

The theory that it's not what you eat it's how often and how much you eat, so enjoy a cookie, enjoy a milkshake, or a part of a milkshake- share it with somebody.

And then lastly, consider kind of a new mental approach to the process. Think about what you're gaining, what the benefit is, the value to you. Kind of have a passion for it instead of looking at the negative side of oh, I can't eat this or that downer mentality. Have a more positive attitude about it.

SSN: Be sure to check out extension.usu.edu/weber for more tips on creating good eating habits this year.