When it comes to how to eat healthier, achieving your nutrition goals is rarely just about modifying your food and eating habits; there are many moving parts to becoming your healthiest self. Yes, choosing nourishing foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and making time for self-care are all important, but there is one component of health that is often overlooked: rituals. Unlike habits (which are performed for the sake of doing the action itself—think: brushing your teeth every day), rituals are a series of intentional actions that can lead to behavior changes. By incorporating rituals into your daily routine, you are creating a positive domino effect to allow other healthy habits to follow. The best part is that rituals don’t have to be difficult to make a difference. Read on for seven rituals that you can start doing today.
1. Set daily intentions
Creating a ritual to write down a daily intention is an automatic way to set the tone for how you want to think, feel, or act each day—including what you want to eat and how to fuel your body. Intentions can align with your values or goals, but they can also help you get more clear on what you want out of your life and how food can help you get there (more energy to work on your business or go out with friends, etc.). And on days where you feel like everything is going wrong, you have your intention to fall back on.
To get started with setting intentions, think about what you want to get out of the day and what energy you want to attract. You could ask yourself questions such as “What attitude do I want to have today?” or “What do I need to focus on to reach my goals?” Examples of intentions could be “Today, I intend to open myself up to new possibilities” or “I am stepping into confidence today.” Connecting your nutrition goals to a greater purpose or desire helps to engrain them in your mind, which can set you on the path to becoming your best self.
I used to think that stretching was something you only did to become more flexible or improve your sit and reach test score in gym class (*cue the flashbacks*). Turns out, stretching has many benefits, including keeping your muscles flexible, reducing stress, preventing injuries, and counteracting the effects we feel from sitting. But most importantly, stretching gives you a chance to reconnect with your body by tuning in to what’s happening inside and out. The more in-tune you are, the more likely you are to live as your healthiest self. Luckily, you don’t need to dedicate an extensive amount of time to stretching to reap the benefits. All you need is a 5-10 minute stretching ritual first thing in the morning or at night before bed as an easy way to anchor your day, connect to your body, and remind yourself what you’re eating healthy for.
Meditation can be great for improving your health, as some research has shown it helps reduce stress and boost immunity. But meditating can feel totally daunting and overwhelming for many people. I mean, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says meditation and why is it sitting in complete silence focusing on deep breathing? However, creating a meditation ritual doesn’t have to mean sitting in silence for long stretches of time. Meditation can be practiced in many different ways, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for you. One way to start a meditation ritual is through practicing visualization meditation. This can look like visualizing yourself completing a health goal, making a nourishing meal, or just generally feeling like your healthiest, most energized self. Picture what your ideal situation would look like and imagine it becoming a reality.
4. Gratitude journal
When we express gratitude for what we have, it can make our life feel that much more fulfilling. Although thinking about what you’re grateful for is helpful, writing it down has been shown to reduce stress, lead to better sleep, and even improve interpersonal relationships. Keeping a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be long or extensive. Start by jotting down three things you’re grateful for each day, anything from the weather outside to a big life event. While shifting your perspective to a grateful one can help increase confidence and intentionality that helps you stay motivated to eat healthy, you can also express gratitude for things related to your nutrition goals, like how you have access to nourishing food that makes your body feel energized, or gratitude for how your body can move. No matter how big or small, starting each day with a dose of gratitude can help create positive effects on your mental and physical health.
5. Limit phone usage
We all spend way too much time on our phones. I often find myself down an Instagram rabbit hole, which sucks up a lot of time and energy I could be spending elsewhere. Setting an app time limit on my phone has been a game changer, especially in the morning. I personally have scheduled “downtime” on my phone so that I don’t wake up with notifications. This allows me to be fully present in my morning routine and helps set a positive tone for the day. While you can tailor your phone preferences to whatever best suits your needs, being intentional about how much time you are spending on your phone—especially on social media—can ensure that your energy is being spent where you intend for it to be and limits you from making those unintentional choices (looking at you, mindless snacking) when you’re distracted.
6. Use affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements or phrases you can say to yourself as encouragement, and they’re different from intentions because they are a sentence to repeat to yourself when you need it rather than a goal or desired outcome. When we recite affirmations, we can improve our coping abilities and overall sense of well-being. You may be familiar with “I Am” affirmations like “I am strong” or “I am healthy,” but affirmations can take many forms, so choose one that works best for you. Start by saying affirmations out loud or even in front of a mirror as a part of your daily affirmation ritual. Some examples include “My actions are meaningful,” “I am healthy, I am happy, I am loved,” and “My body deserves optimal nourishment.”
7. Connect with nature
Spending time in the great outdoors has been shown to have many positive benefits for overall health including reducing stress and boosting your mood, which means less stress eating and more intentional food choices when we’re feeling inspired, happy, and less stressed. Nature also lets us connect to our bodies and helps us feel more in tune to its needs. Despite this, many of us are simply not getting outside enough. Finding ways to connect with nature as a daily ritual can be as easy as taking a break during the workday to bask in some sunlight, going on a post-work walk in your neighborhood, or even taking your work (or workouts) outside.