For years, every time I went to the dentist, the hygienist would be on my case about not flossing. I honestly don’t understand why I was once a flossing failure, but I do know why I’m now a flossing fanatic. I changed my habits using a simple approach that can work for you, too, whether your new habit is flossing or something even more important.
No Oprah Moments Required
I didn’t have an emotional breakthrough with flossing by recounting a horrible incident in the dental chair when I was a child. I do like talking about the time the dentist hit a nerve while giving me an injection (it was AWFUL!), however talking it out didn’t get me to floss. Oprah is a case study in the lack of relationship between understanding a bad habit and ending it. So are our pets. You can train your dog to stay off the couch without having him recline on one for psychoanalysis, thankfully. You can develop a healthy habit (or change an unhealthy one) without understanding the roots of your behavior.
Quit Looking for Motivation
I didn’t start flossing because my dentist put the fear of gingivitis in me. I do recall being motivated to floss at one time because I hoped for the approval of my hygienist. When she didn’t praise me for my months of flossing and instead criticized my technique, I quit flossing for years. I don’t know why I started again. Maybe I had something stuck in my teeth? The point is, to change many habits, you don’t need a big reason to do so.
Just Do It. A Lot.
For some reason, I flossed several days in a row. Then I thought about not flossing because I didn’t feel like it. Flossing isn’t fun and I do it at the end of a long day when I’m fatigued. But I flossed anyway. I have no idea why. Then I got serious about the potential of not flossing. While I thought about skipping, I would reach for the floss. By the time I had determined I could skip it “just this once,” I was already done. I was on automatic pilot. I’ve been flossing every night for years now and I can’t NOT do it. Reason or no, motivation or no, just do what you know you should do, day after day.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Genesis 4:7
Rinse & Repeat.
I’ve used this method to change a number of habits. I lock my car with the remote each time to keep from locking my keys in the car. What was once a regular problem hasn’t happened in many years. I also run my dishwasher each night. I can be dead tired, but like it or not, there I am loading, adding soap, and pushing buttons. I am currently using the same method to develop a regular blogging habit. So far, so good!
What habits have you changed with this method or what habits would you like to try it with?
I believe that good nutrition is a vital part of being a motivated homeschooler and I bet you do, too. The problem we typically have is that shopping for and preparing healthy meals is time-consuming. Then there’s the issue of dealing with picky palettes. As a fellow traveler on the road to healthier eating, here are some of my motivators that might help you overcome your good eating obstacles:
- Ditch denial. Just Google the risks of childhood obesity and you should have a harder time pulling into the fast food drive through today. Read up on the health risks of eating too much sugar and fat and too little fiber and you’ll have an easier time making your way to the kitchen.
- Start small. I’ve given extreme eating and cooking a good try and I can tell you it’s not the best approach. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be an all or nothing phenomena. In fact, the most fit and energetic people I know are not food extremists. Making one food from scratch a week that has no preservatives or artificial additives is a great start!
- Take time. I won’t lie to you. Healthier eating DOES take more time. But I think it’s well worth the investment. Consider and pray about which areas you could take time from to allow you to provide better meals for you and your family.
- Add alternates. Rather than clear your pantry of all the unhealthy foods your family loves, introduce alternatives first. Once the good food is accepted, they’ll have an easy time letting the junk food go.
- Request ratings. If you come at your family like a drill sergeant, insisting they give up their favorite foods (or die!), your efforts will be for naught. Instead, help your family feel a part of the process by asking them to rate new recipes. If the majority do not like something, respect them and try something else.
- Try teaching. You already know that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Why not study healthier eating with your kids? Use the opportunity to give your kids an education in health, math (measuring), and practical arts (cooking). My kids studied Eat This, Not That for Kids religiously with no prompting from me.
- Ease expectations. Even starting small, it’s easy to expect that we ought to be making all our own bread, canning our own veggies, and when we really get crazy we think we ought to be making our own cheeses, too! It’s OK to use some packaged foods and even to choose the lesser of two evils when it comes to eating.
- Honor hunger. Because our number one nutritional problem isn’t vitamin deficiency or even pesticide side effects, but being overweight, remember that one of the healthiest things we can do is not overeat. God gave us hunger and satiation so we wouldn’t have to weigh and measure our food. Honor it and you’ll surely be healthier than if you don’t.
- Prepare portions. The easier you make it for you and your family to eat healthy meals, the more likely your nutrition will improve. Consider making breakfast for the next day as you prepare dinner. Cut up fruits and veggies after a grocery trip and consider using a fun presentation to make them more palatable to the kids. Double dinners and freeze one. Prepare what you can in advance. For example, brown all your ground beef and freeze it in dinner-size portions for a quick staple during the week.
- Enjoy esteem. If you’re anything like me, cooking just seems like a lot of work! What I didn’t realize until recently is that it’s also a great way to get the thanks and praise that so seems lacking in our homeschool. My kids and husband have been singing my praises as I’ve been making new, delicious, and healthier recipes.
- Make memories. My mother’s home cooking comprises some of my favorite childhood memories. I doubt that our children will have similar memories of fast food or prepackaged chicken nuggets and fries. As I was writing this post, my son came in and saw my cinnamon rolls and exclaimed, “Those are so awesome!” While they aren’t the healthiest fare (and you wouldn’t want to eat them every day!), they do make wonderful memories.
Want even more healthy eating motivation? Follow me at Wonder Women where I will be regularly posting my food forays.
I've definitely lived the extremes where eating is concerned. But now I would like to eat and serve healthier fare without becoming looney about it. Know what I mean? To that end, I'll be posting some of my food forays in the hope that it will be of some help to those who would like to do likewise.
During one of my healthy eating frenzies, I accumulated a grain mill, a 50-pound bag of whole wheat, and lots of raw sugar. I didn't want to feel like my investment was all for naught, so I decided to include Heavenly Homemakers in my healthier eating journey. I love that Laura makes kid-friendly food, provides weekly menus, and uses many of the staples I've acquired.
My first meal attempt was her taco corn fritter recipe. My mother made delicious corn fritters and the idea of adding cheese and ground beef to them really appealed to me. The good news is I've enjoyed some of Laura's recipes. The bad news is that this wasn't one of them. Pretty much everyone hated these fritters. I think the problems were a) the honey makes them brown before they're cooked through and b) Fritters are better when made out of flour rather than corn meal in my opinion. Even though my first effort failed, I did not give up! Stay tuned for more adventures in healthier eating.