You’ve probably heard that in time, you’ll be able to make healthy choices on autopilot – but what does that really mean?
Will it ever actually be effortless to say no to temptations or get up when your alarm goes off?
This post and podcast episode are all about how to think like a healthy person and what it really means to make those choices more automatically.
(It’s not what you think).
You can listen to the episode here…
Or keep reading the post below:
So many people fall into this trap of believing that in order to be considered healthy, they have to make the healthiest choice every.single.time.
That’s just not the case.
What does healthy even mean?
For starters, think about what the word healthy means to you.
Now ask someone else what it means to them.
I can guarantee that you will have different opinions – and that’s ok.
For you and your goals, healthy may mean choosing the option with lower calories.
Your husband may look at the same options and choose the higher calorie, option because his goals and needs are different that yours.
A big part of starting to think like a healthy person is realizing that there’s always room for flexibility and situations where you may choose food for pleasure, rather than fuel.
When it comes to “being healthy” we all fall into different categories based on our goals, but where we can all agree is that life is easier when our healthy choices come naturally.
Making Choices on Autopilot
We all wish for a day when making the healthiest choice is our immediate response to any scenario.
While you may reach a point where you are making the healthiest choice most of the time and it might feel like you’re doing it on autopilot, you’re still running down a mental checklist to get to that decision.
When you learn how to think like a healthy person, the healthy choice isn’t necessarily the thing that comes more automatically, but the outcome of your mental checklist.
An example of this mental checklist could happen when you’re looking for a quick lunch.
You walk through the grocery store and you see a pre-made salad and your first thought is, “It’s a salad so it must be healthy.”
Buuttttt just because it’s a salad doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice so you take the time to look at the nutrition facts and see what you’re actually getting in the bag.
You ask yourself if this pre-made salad checks any of the nutrition boxes you’re trying to hit – what’s the protein amount, how many calories are in the dressing, etc. –and you ask if it’s going to be satisfying.
You may realize that this particular salad doesn’t have more than a giant mound of lettuce with a few sprinkles of cheese and some sad looking chicken tossed on top so you put it down and look for something else.
Running through that list may seem laborious and unnecessary at first, but once you’ve done it enough time it starts to feel almost automatic.
This is what it means to automate the checklist so the decisions start to feel automatic too.
While at first, it may take you 5, 10, 15 minutes to walk yourself through these questions, with time, it’ll start to happen in just a matter of seconds.
If you are trying hard to think like a healthy person but find yourself struggling with emotional eating, you are not alone.
Even the most fit and disciplined people can (and do) struggle with emotional eating, but what most of those people have learned is to think like a healthy person and not let it become an everyday cycle.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re standing in front of the cabinet with a whole bag of chips and before you know it half the bag is gone – call yourself out, walk away, don’t punish yourself, and wipe the slate clean.
Once you go through this cycle of actually naming the problem, thinking about how you feel, and not punishing yourself by restricting later, you’ll start to see a change in how you approach food when you’re feeling big emotions.
Learning to think like a healthy person will take time. It will take making mistakes. It will take learning from those mistakes.
But, eventually, what you will see is that you are making the healthier choice more often. You will find yourself making those choices easier, more quickly, and more often, and that’s how you’ll know that you’ve started to think like a healthy person.