Overwhelm. That's how most of my clients feel about changing their habits - especially food.
As a result, much of my time is spent breaking down change into bite-sized pieces to help make the process easier. And why does this process work?
Mindset is sometimes called “the story you tell yourself.” It’s your attitude toward things in your life. If a challenge seems overwhelming, you simply need to "think about it" in a different way and you will experience amazing results.
You may be thinking, "Shut up Vanessa. This has nothing to do inflammation or autoimmune disease."
It absolutely does.
Very interesting health mindset study
Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.
Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people's health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.
What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. They also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active, even if they actually weren't less active!
How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?
There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we're less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn't good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.
Researchers don't know why. What matters is that mindset was critical for health.
This matters if you want to reduce inflammation or pain. This matters if you want to lose weight. This matters if you're doing your best to help your child (or yourself) better manage your autoimmune disease.
Health mindset strategy 1 - One Step At A Time.
Stop worrying or thinking about change and just get started. Change is usually best done incrementally - one step at a time.
If you take a light and bright approach to slow and steady change, you will move forward, the results will be consistent, and you will feel great about your accomplishments. The sum of your efforts will benefit you physically and emotionally.
If you're implementing change at home for your family, this is even more important. As a parent, you are the leader. A positive and fun approach to change is critical for your kids. They will follow your lead.
Health mindset strategy 2 - Pantry swaps
Substitutions are key if you are following a dietary plan of any sort. Many need a drink and treat replacement to feel like there is some normality in their lives. This helps improve compliance and a positive mindset.
So, as you are making change (one step at a time), I encourage you to find the replacements or substitutions you need to succeed. There will be hits and misses along the way. That's o.k. It's an adventure and it will help you figure out what really works for your taste preferences and lifestyle.
When you have some tried-and-true recipes and food items that meet your needs, you will feel more confident and adopt a great mindset to continue building on your success.
Health mindset strategy 3 - Good enough
Instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for "good enough" to empower yourself to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.
The notion of perfection, I believe, leads to a deprivation mindset. All or nothing. It can prevent people from continuing a health plan ("it's too difficult") and it can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and failure.
Keeping a food journal is really helpful in this situation. The purpose is not to be perfect. It helps you learn how to make better choices for your unique situation.
You see, when you track what you eat, you learn how certain foods (or combinations of foods) impact your cravings, mood, digestion, energy, sleep and inflammation. It helps guide your next steps for small change. And it helps identify where you may need some substitutions to support you.
Mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.
Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.
How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below.