A couple weeks ago I wrote about the most important element of your productivity.

I talked about how energy is the foundation of your productivity. Without energy, you’re not going to do much at all.

Exercise is a big part of that. But a bigger piece of the energy puzzle is your diet.

How are your eating habits? Do they promote energy or diminish it?

If you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle and start eating better, I’ve got good news! It doesn’t have to be difficult and torturous. It’s actually quite simple. If you take it slowly.

Here are 5 ways to gradually adopt healthy eating habits over time…

Why Your Diet is Important

“Diet” is a terrible word, right? Anything that starts with “die” can’t be good. So I want to make it clear here: I’m not talking about a crash diet or some diet you only stick with for a certain amount of time. I’m using the word diet for what it actually means:

Diet – The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

A diet is the food you eat. That’s it. Your diet can include lean meat and veggies or your diet can include Big Macs and Frosties. Either way, your diet is simply what you’re eating. And I’m going to show you how to gradually turn what you’re eating into energy fuel, versus energy poison.

Your daily diet is directly related to your energy levels. You know how you feel after that huge Thanksgiving meal. And you know you don’t want to feel like that everyday, so you’ll have to adapt your eating to where you want your energy to be.

And like most things, the hardest part is getting started.

How to Get Started

Changing your diet completely in one day is hard, it’s also a recipe for failure.

Like any habit that you plan to keep, you’ll want to start small.

Why start so small? Several reasons: it’s easier mentally, your body can adjust more gradually and it’s much less intimidating. To name a few.

Now that you know the “why”, here’s the “how”. Here are some easy strategies to start small and gradually implement more change:

healthy eating habits

  1. The List Strategy – Michi’s Ladder is a five-tier list of almost every food you can imagine. The goal is to limit your diet to the first two tiers. Get the list, decide on a certain number of foods to cross off each day/week, then start crossing them off. Start with the easiest foods for you to avoid.
  2. The Group Strategy – Decide on a certain group of food to eliminate. As large or small of a group as you want. Depending on what you desire for your diet, you could eliminate a large group like breads, dairy or sweets. Or you could start smaller, such as cheese, white bread, cake, etc.. The options are endless and you’ll have to pick foods based on what you consider to be “the perfect diet”.
  3. The Meal Strategy – This one is easy to understand and implement. Just start by eating one healthy meal each day. You can even start smaller by eating one healthy meal each week and adding another healthy meal the next week. After a while, you’ll be eating several healthy meals every week and still continuing to add more.
  4. The Day Strategy – Start by eating healthy for one day in the week. Depending on how gradual you want this to be, you can add another healthy day weekly, biweekly or monthly. It’s up to you. If you add a healthy day each week, you’ll be on a full-time healthy eating schedule in seven weeks. That should be easy to stick to, but you can always start more gradually if you prefer.
  5. The Hour Strategy – This one is a little different. I’m sure you’ve heard that eating before bed can make you fat. Well, I considered linking several studies and then decided not to. There’s just too many. Personally, I don’t believe that when you eat has anything to do with your weight loss, but I do believe the amount of calories you consume has everything to do with it. So start by eliminating eating during the last hour (or even 30 minutes or 15) of the day, before bed. Then gradually keep cutting the time frame back until you only eat during a certain window (basically like intermittent fasting). This will ultimately reduce your overall calories, but you’ll still have to give some attention to the food you’re eating in your window.

Those are great ways to implement a healthy lifestyle change. You can take the basic idea and use it any area of your life. Just remember, it’s all about mindset. Try to focus on what you can eat, versus what you can’t. Eat food that you love, that’s also good for you. Implement a strategy that you know you’ll stick with.

Photo Credit: Foodie’s Feed