Recently I learned about a passive versus an active mindset. I was blown away by their descriptions and life applications. This got me thinking, how can we make a mindset shift from a passive mindset to an active mindset when it comes to our own health and nutrition? Maybe this understanding is just what some people need to break through the endless cycles of yo-yo dieting, restrictive eating patterns, shame and guilt around food or any limiting beliefs surrounding what one is capable of in his/her health journey.
A passive mindset versus an active mindset
Have you ever felt like life is happening TO you? That good things only happen to other people? That, my friends, is living with a passive mindset. With a passive mindset you like to live in the passive. Doing so removes responsibility from you. You don’t have to do the hard work to make change.
Passive mindset examples:
But it’s easy for her. She is naturally slim. Not me, I am genetically larger framed so nothing I do will help me reach my goals.
It’s easy for him. He actually likes to workout. I wasn’t born with that desire.
But it’s easy for her. She likes all of that weird plant food. She was probably raised on it. Not me, I grew up on lunchables and ice cream. I am just not wired to eat that way.
It’s not my fault that I want sweets and processed salty foods. They are convenient and they are manufactured for me to want to eat them over and over again.
It’s not my fault I can’t eat healthy! My cravings always take over.
I am going to continue to aimlessly eat this food because it is here.
I will eat this convenience food because it is easy and I don’t have to do any work.
With an active mindset, you are in control of your life. You take responsibility for whatever happens or doesn’t happen to you. In other words you take ownership of both your successes and your failures.
Active mindset examples:
I run and am able to endure when it gets tough. I can apply this to all aspects of my life.
I own the fact that my A1C is too high and need to make changes to correct it. I will add more whole plant foods to my diet, start an afternoon walking regimen and cut back on night time snacking.
My body is just as strong and capable to make change as the next body. I have everything that I need to achieve my goals.
I am choosing to eat this unhealthy food and that is ok. I will not beat myself down over it. It is MY CHOICE.
I choose to eat more vegetables and will experiment with new plant based recipes.
I want to be more mindful of my food choices and how they affect my health goals.
Steps to take to adopt an active mindset surrounding your nutrition goals
- Educate yourself- No I don’t mean spending hours poring over nutrition books or doing research on PubMed. Do something easy. Choose a social media account by an expert, i.e. a doctor or registered dietitian, to learn about food and nutrition. Find a podcast about food and nutrition that you like to listen to and commit to listening once a week. Examples are the Plant Proof Podcast or The Exam Room Podcast by the Physicians Committee.
- Set specific and achievable health and nutrition goals- Example of goals include eating 10 plant foods per day, working out 30 minutes per day/5 days per week or getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Meal plan- Plan your meals in advance so you aren’t tempted to reach for convenience foods.
- Practice mindful eating- Take a moment to belly breathe before eating a meal. This action switches from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system preparing you to rest and digest and be mindful of your meal. Slowing down allows you to be more mindful of your hunger and satiety cues.
- Seek support- If you know you struggle with staying on task with your goals, find an accountability partner or support group. Join a group that shares recipes or meets up for regular workouts.
- Celebrate small wins- Acknowledge your achievements no matter how big or small to encourage a continued active mindset.
- Regular assessment- Write down your goals and track your progress. Recognize when you need to adjust those goals so you can maintain positivity and an active mindset.