This is the time of year when graduation ceremonies are taking place around the country. Whether kindergarteners, high schoolers or graduate students are flipping their tassels, the ceremonies celebrate both what’s already been accomplished and what is still to come. After all, “commencement” means a beginning or start. After you’ve finished a sugar detox, you’ll need a plan for “graduation” as well. You’ve put in the hard work needed to learn about healthier food options and to change your palate. In order to have continued success, however, you have to see this as just the beginning of a long-term lifestyle change. Although that may seem daunting, the rewards of living a low-sugar life are well worth it. Here are five tips to make sure you’re maintaining your new healthy lifestyle at all those reunions down the road.
Do Periodic Check-ins. When you started to focus on reducing the amount of sugar you were eating, you probably did a lot of meticulous tracking. Whether it was looking at the grams of sugar in everything you ate, tracking your daily intake, or cleaning out the fridge once a month to avoid hidden sugar traps, these steps kept your healthy lifestyle on track. Now avoiding sugar probably feels like second nature. However, if you become too comfortable, it’s easy to slip. To make sure you stay on track, plan regular check-ins. Track your sugar consumption one day a week, for example, or go through the refrigerator every six weeks to clear out hidden sources of sugar.
Pay Attention to Your Habits. Developing a healthier lifestyle meant dropping some unhealthy habits (like nightly dessert) and replacing them with new habits (like drinking lots of water). A good way to maintain your healthy lifestyle is to notice if old habits start creeping back in or new ones drop off. Often this happens slowly, so it may be a good idea to ask a trusted friend or family member to tell you if they notice that you’re slipping off track.
Plan Ahead During Stressful Times. Eating healthier takes some planning. After all, it’s hard to get a healthy meal through a drive-through or if you’re working long shifts. Because of that, many people let things slide when they are going through big life events, like starting a new job, moving, or having a baby. To avoid this situation, plan ahead. Recognize that healthy eating is going to be challenging and find ways to make it easier. For example, cook healthy meals for the week on Sunday, stock up on nuts, veggies, and other wholesome snacks, and always make sure you eat before leaving the house so you’re not tempted by fast, easy options.
Prioritize Your Health, No Matter What. When you first started a low-sugar lifestyle you probably jumped in wholeheartedly. However, over time it’s natural for that fervor to wear off. Even when that happens, you need to make your healthy eating habits a priority. Sure, there are going to be busy and stressful times, like those mentioned above, but don’t use life changes as an excuse to fall back into unhealthy eating. Remember how much better you feel when you’re eating less sugar, and know that maintaining your lifestyle will help you feel your best.
Recognize That Maintaining Is Hard Work. Sticking to a low sugar lifestyle won’t come easily just because you already did the hard work of adopting it. Just as the graduates walking across stage will need to continue to work hard to succeed, so will you in order to maintain a low-sugar lifestyle for good. The effort, however, is well worth it.