Finding the motivation to improve your lifestyle by starting to eat healthily and do physical activity regularly is not easy, but even more difficult may be staying motivated to eat healthy, and maintaining the benefits of this change.
Most people who decide to start a diet to lose weight, often follow very restrictive low-calorie regimes, to achieve visible results in a short time; once you have achieved the desired result, however, despite the sacrifices and waivers, you easily fall back into bad habits, regaining in a short time the weight you lost. It is a vicious circle, in which many people find themselves imprisoned for years, without finding the right motivation to eat healthy and exercise, to achieve a change in habits over time.
Why is this happening?
A succession of attempts at diets, often very restrictive and unsuccessful, does not help us to find a balance, but makes us more and more stressed and frustrated, up to compromising our relationship with food and leading us to hate physical exercise. If the only reason that moves us to follow a diet or go to the gym is the kilos that we read on the scale or an event that we would like to get to in our best condition, almost certainly our attempt at change will be a failure. We’ll probably be able to lose too many kilos and put back a dress that hasn't been there for long, but it's going to be a matter of time and we’ll have to start all over again.
If you want to find your balance you need to have good reasons, a strong healthy eating motivation, which goes beyond weight loss. Eating healthily and leading an active lifestyle can really give you a condition of well-being and psychophysical health that when you have tried you will no longer be able to do without it.
We give you 4 good reasons to start: the others you will find along the way, and we will be happy if you want to share them with us.
1) Healthy eating will make you happier and more focused
There is a very strong relationship between our brain and the bacteria that populate our gut. The balance of our intestinal bacterial flora, in fact, affects our mood and the probability of being happier. Eating more fruits and vegetables, and in general vegetable foods rich in fibers keeps our microbiota healthy, while, on the contrary, an excess of industrially derived foods, rich in preservatives, sweeteners, and poor-quality fats, has the opposite effect.
And what about physical activity? It only takes 20-30 minutes of physical activity per day, to increase the brain production of Neurotrophines, substances that increase our ability to gain memory and stay focus.
2) Healthy lifestyle makes your immune system stronger
As already mentioned above, the balance of the intestinal bacterial flora is fundamental. Bacteria that populate the intestine produce bactericidal substances that can help us defend ourselves against aggression by pathogenic microorganisms.
Beyond this, also remember that foods of plant origin are rich in vitamins and minerals fundamental for the functioning of the immune system, and those good fats such as those present in vegetable oils and dried fruits have high antioxidant power.
Moderate physical activity also keeps body inflammation under control by making us stronger from an immune point of view.
3) Eating healthy also means sleeping better
A diet containing a wide variety of healthy foods, brings a good content of tryptophan, magnesium, and fermented foods, which help to keep anxiety under control, normalize the production of serotonin and promote restorative sleep. Those who sleep well feel more active, but also more friendly and social, having also a bigger motivation to eat healthily and exercise maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
If you sleep badly, however, you will be more likely to be hungry, because your body will produce high levels of ghrelin, but you will also have less energy to do physical activity: you will run a greater risk of gaining weight.
4) Healthy lifestyle helps you age better
Following a healthy diet means eating more plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and vegetable oils or oilseeds. These foods are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, which neutralize the negative effect of oxygen-free radicals, and essential fatty acids, which protect cell membranes by making them more resistant to oxidative stress and keeping our cells younger.
Physical activity? It maintains muscle mass (which we tend to lose with age) and bone health and fights inflammation that is associated with aging (inflamm-aging).
How to Start Eating Healthily?
We hope we've given you some good reason to start your change. Here's what you need to do now:
First set your goals, which are achievable and short-term. Proceed with small gradual changes, without completely upsetting your life, so you can give yourself time to get used to acquiring new habits and consolidating them. Research published in 2010 showed that it takes about 9 weeks to create a habit. This means that if you manage to eat healthier and move more for a period of about two months, then it will become part of your habits and it will be natural for you to follow a healthy lifestyle.
Proceeding in small steps will allow you to be more flexible without excessive sacrifices and without giving up your favorite foods or a dinner with friends.
Treating yourself to your favorite foods is important to find your balance. Deprivation, especially if prolonged over time, compromise your relationship with food, also making you emotionally unstable and unhappy.
The last advice we give you to find the motivation to eat healthily is to think about food in a positive way: don't think about what you can't eat, think instead about how many healthy foods you can eat every day and fill your pantry with these friend foods. You will find that eating well also means eating tasty and colorful foods, which are good for your health and will help you stay in shape naturally without the terrible vision of weight scale.
If you don't believe it visit our blog right away: you will find many exquisite recipes, easy and quick to prepare!
Author: Francesca Deriu, Nutritionist at Minutro
Mayer EA, Tillisch K, Gupta A. Gut/brain axis and the microbiota. J Clin Invest. 2015 Mar 2;125(3):926-38.
Medawar E, Huhn S, Villringer A, Veronica Witte A. The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain: a systematic review. Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 12;9(1):226.
Ames BN. Prolonging healthy aging: Longevity vitamins and proteins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Oct 23;115(43):10836-10844.
Phillippa Lally et al., How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psicology. October 2010