Happiness and healthy eating

You may be starting the year with an intention to eat healthily, which is a great focus for the year ahead, but did you know the research suggests that roughly 80% of people who start a healthy diet regime and lose weight will not maintain that weight loss for over 12 months?


And the same applies to those who adopt a healthy eating plan to reduce inflammatory symptoms. It isn’t sustainable long term if not approached in the right way.

In my clinic, the most common reason I see my clients struggling to follow a healthy eating plan is an emotional one, as it is easier to avoid processing emotions you are uncomfortable with. Food is often used as an effective distraction. 

So rather than diving feet first into a new healthy eating plan, why not set some solid emotional foundations first to rebuild on by taking the steps that I will be explaining in this article? 

Know your 'why'

Knowing your 'why' to keep you motivated throughout the year is essential. Knowing why you would like to regain your health and reactivate your life is vital to keep you on track. 

Here are the questions to ask yourself to determine your 'why':

  • Why is it vital for you to make these changes now and have success no matter what?
  • How do you imagine your life once you have made these changes and seen the results you were hoping for?
  • What will you do when you are faced with challenges to keep you on track?
  • What small action can you do daily to keep you moving towards your goal? 

When you answer these questions, use as much vivid imagery as possible and try only to use positive words in your answers. 

For example, one of the reasons I wanted to overcome chronic fatigue syndrome was to have the energy to spend more time with friends and family, start my business and pursue my love of Pilates and singing. I really couldn't have done any of these things to their full potential without my energy back, and it kept me going even on the days when I felt like giving up. 

Establish core values 

You may associate core values with companies rather than people, but we all have core values. Whether we live by them or not is another matter. Understanding your core values is key to knowing whether you are living your life aligned with them or living a life aligned with other people’s values.

And you might be asking yourself, why does this matter? 

Living by your highest values allows you to thrive and live purposefully each day. Dr John Demartin, in his book The Values Factor, explores where our values come from, which is often a result of a void in our earlier life. 

This explanation rings true for me, as I have focused much of my adult life on health and wellness after having an autoimmune disease throughout my childhood. An earlier missing piece in my life has led to one of my highest values, health, and nutrition. What void in your earlier life has made you who you are today?

If you are not sure what your highest values are, look around you. 

  • What do you surround yourself with, in your office or at home? 
  • What do you prioritise in your life? 
  • And what part of your life is most organised?

These will all give you an indication of your true values, and if you aren’t currently living by these, it might be time to take a step back and start to shake up your life and get back on the right track. 

Once you start living by your core values, making health decisions for yourself, especially around food, may become easier.

Honest moment: If you continue to set goals that you never reach, it is time to take a different approach. 

Create healthy habits

For years, I would spend every January writing out goals, and as much as it motivated me in the first few weeks of the year, I could never follow them long-term.

I found a better way to spend time doing some self-reflection before deciding on my next move, such as:

  • What has worked well for me recently?
  • What have I enjoyed doing?
  • What is holding me back from taking the next step?

And then, more importantly, when I set myself new habits, how best do I stick to them?

And that's when I refer to Gretchen Rubin’s personality tendencies. You see, just because your neighbour does well with an accountability partner doesn't mean you will. And even for some personality traits, it might do more harm than good.  

If you haven't taken Gretchen Rubin's free quiz on her website, please do so, as it may explain why some habits have worked for you and others haven't.

In my signature programme, The Complete Autoimmune RESET, I run a session on personality tendencies in the personalisation week so that during the programme, you know how best to approach each week. 

In addition, I also explain the process of habit stacking. 

Habit stacking is when you take a habit you already have and stack another healthy habit on top of it. Essentially, you take a habit you already do every day and pair it with a simple one you want to do every day. For example, you may already make coffee every morning and want to work out more. With this stacking routine, you could immediately do a few stretches while your coffee brews.

Once you have a healthy habit in place, you can stick to it without thinking, which is why habit forming is so powerful. 

So if you would like to make some positive changes to your life and eat healthily, explore your personality tendency, write out your daily habits, and for any that aren't benefiting you anymore, make a plan to switch these for a healthy habit you would like to do. 

Do more of what you love

Have you ever considered how much time you spend doing activities and being with people that bring you joy?

And do you know that seeking out happiness is one of the best things you can do for your health?

Being happy doesn't just make you feel better. Research suggests it may improve your health. And happiness may help you eat healthier, be more active and sleep better.

Here’s an exercise you can do to reflect on how much time you are currently spending on joyous activities to feel happier, and if your life is currently out of sync, how you can make a plan to change this. 

Write down all the activities you focus on in your life, including work. Make a separate list of all the activities you love to do. Compare the two lists. If the first list does not contain activities from the second list, then decide how you can bring one of these activities into your life. 

Reflect on this at the end of each month, and gradually bring more of the activities you love into your life.  Remove any that don’t make you happy (other than those you have no choice in).

Self-awareness, contentment and happiness are at the heart of achieving optimal health and making healthy food choices for yourself. 

I tried for years to shortcut my approach and reduce my inflammatory symptoms and maintain a healthy diet, without the emotional healing required to sustain it long-term. And with every step forward, I took two steps back. 

10 years ago, I decided to take a different approach and work on my health holistically using nutrition, mindfulness, movement, and happiness, and since then my health has gone from strength to strength.

And that is how I work with my clients at The Autoimmunity Nutritionist clinic. We not only focus on nutrition, but I make sure my client has solid foundations before moving forward.

If you want a complete approach to your health, please book a free consultation at the Autoimmunity Nutritionist clinic to learn more about my services.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London W1G & Harrogate HG1
Written by V. J. Hamilton, Autoimmune Disease Expert | BSc (Immunology), DipION, mBANT
London W1G & Harrogate HG1

After 25 years of suffering from multiple autoimmune conditions that affected her energy, skin
& hair, VJ discovered she could uncover the root cause of her issues to transform her health & live without symptoms.

VJ now uses these same principles to help women with autoimmune disease regain their strength & live a whole and symptom-free life.

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