Have you ever searched all over your house for your phone or your keys then realized they were in your pocket (or worse, your hand) the entire time?
Sometimes we are so focused on solving a difficult problem that the simple, obvious solution eludes us. This is how I felt when I discovered the solution to my life-long battle with food and body weight.
Since food caused me so much stress I assumed it was the primary cause of my problems. It took me nearly two decades to realize that since I couldn’t fight it, my only choice was to embrace it.
Now that I’ve spent over six years as a foodist the way I eat and deal with food seems so obviously correct that it feels like commonsense. Still millions of people struggle with these issues daily, searching desperately for a fix that’s right under our noses.
A foodist knows that food is the answer to, not the cause of our health and weight issues. Eating is essential to our survival and our innate drive to do it is too strong to override for long. The solution lies in constructing habits that work with us, not against us, balancing our needs for both health and happiness through food.
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While there are many different paths a foodist can take to optimize our healthstyle, the most successful rely on seven core habits that have the biggest impact on our long-term success. You might notice that none of these depend upon a specific food or nutrient.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Foodists
1. Never diet
Restrictive dieting sabotages your weight loss efforts for several reasons. This is worse than simply not being effective; dieting makes achieving your weight loss goal even harder than it needs to be. To be a successful foodist you need to stop pretending that dieting will ever do you any good and give it up forever.
2. Regular grocery shopping
Bad food decisions (those that aren’t good for you and aren’t worth it) tend to arise from unpreparedness, not from lack of willpower. The sooner you get in the habit of regular grocery shopping so that you always having a better option, the sooner you’ll start seeing progress.
3. Cook at home
I’d never say that getting healthy is impossible if you eat most meals outside the home, but it is certainly more difficult. You don’t need to be a fabulous chef to take control of your food destiny. Successful foodists develop a handful of home court recipes that they can count on to be easy, healthy, and tasty, and use these as the foundation of our healthstyle.
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4. 10,000 steps
It’s way too easy to be sedentary in the 21st century, but it’s also pretty darn easy to be active. Even if you can’t always make it to the gym, making an effort to hit 10,000 steps each day is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to keep your health and weight in check.
5. Chew thoroughly
As fun as it is to wolf down a massive plate of food without actually tasting anything, slowing down and chewing makes your eating experience even better. Effective foodists cultivate mindfulness when they eat, which ultimately results in eating less and enjoying it more.
6. Value-based decisions
Have you ever wondered why vegetarians never cheat on their diets or why people can fast for weeks in observation of a religious holiday, but you can’t stop eating the stale chips in the office lunch room? Research has shown that people who make value-based food decisions are far more effective at sticking to their goals than people motivated by health alone.
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7. Monitor your progress
It’s nearly impossible to solve a problem if you don’t know that the problem exists. When you build habits your brain starts shifting many of your actions to autopilot. This is wonderful, because it makes your healthstyle feel effortless. However, it also leaves you vulnerable to mindless shifts in your habits that have the power to undo weeks or months of progress. Combat this by keeping tabs on yourself and making self-monitoring a regular habit. Use a digital scale, a pedometer and mobile apps to make sure you have all the information you need to make good decisions.
A version of this post originally appeared on Darya Rose’s health website, summertomato.com.