Habits are learned over time by repeated activities.
Sometimes an activity becomes such a habit that you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
Think about when you were young, and your parents made you brush your teeth every morning before going to school. Then again every evening before going to bed. Brushing your teeth is not something you sit and think about. Its not something you have to remind yourself to do – its as much a habit as going to the toilet when you need it. Poor eating habits can be just as easy to learn. This is why we need to learn how to create healthier habits.
Habits can be good or bad, beneficial or destructive in nature.
When it comes to changing your lifestyle, you must learn new habits. This is done with repetition and just like any other habit over a length of time. Its not enough to tell someone to replace a bad habit with a good habit, that isn’t helpful advice at all! You must address each one and figure out what is the best way to break it.
What bad/destructive habits do you have (with regards to food) which could possibly be holding you back from achieving your goals?
- Eating in front of the tv. Causing you to over eat and mindlessly eat because your focus is on the tv.
- Buying groceries everyday. Causing you constant temptation of food and careless spending.
- Not preparing food ahead of time/packing food to take to work. S0 you to buy take-outs, snack on poor nutrient/high calorie foods. Or you miss meals and over eat later in the day.
- Not knowing how to cook in a healthy way. Instead you fry everything or drench it in butter and sugar. You may even buy pre-made foods or take-outs constantly.
Believe it or not, those are quick fixes to change.
- Commit to eating at a table for every meal especially dinner – even if your eating alone!
- Make a shopping list which includes ALL the food you’ll need to the week (or at least 4 days at a time). Take your list with you and push popping into the shop each day until you need more than 5 items.
- Use Sunday night (or evenings after dinner) to prep meals ahead. Invest in some plastic air-tight containers to store your food in the fridge/freezer.
- Invest in some quality non-stick pans, use spray and cook and start measuring out your oil and sauces. Experiment I the kitchen! You need to practice to get better at anything.
Now what about more erratic behaviors
These are much harder to break because they have deep roots (i.e. learned and repeated over many years – sometimes even since childhood. How to create healthier habits might seem more challenging, when some reactions are significant chemical reactions. These are things like
- Eating when you’re stressed, depressed, lonely, sad, angry, afraid, anxious. Or when you’ve received bad news – basically any other reason beside actual hunger.
- Over eating from hormonal triggers
- Binge eating
- Eating to please/satisfy others
The number one way to stop these habits is to AVOID
Avoid having the bad food in the house, at the office or in your car etc. Do your best to avoid getting into situations which you know trigger you. I guarantee this is the best way to build up the ‘willpower’ needed to resist these things in the future.
Taking a different route home after a stressful day at the office. Just to avoid the take-out joints you’re used to passing, is a small but very effective habit that can be learned. Setting yourself up for success rather than following a path you know will lead to failure. Another big factor to avoiding these bad habits is learning to deal with your emotions.
Unless hunger is the problem, food is never and will never be the answer. Once you understand this, knowing how to create healthier habits becomes easier.
This is where it is important to replace bad food habits with something other than food.
And yes, even good food, so that you aren’t teaching your brain that food is the answer to your problems. Your brain’s relief/happiness sensors need to be stimulated with something other than food.
For example, you receive bad news and you have a mini emotional breakdown, eat a box of brownies and a tub of ice-cream and you feel better. Now the same thing happens but instead you eat carrots dipped in hummus and you feel better. Now while carrot sticks and hummus are bad, you are still reinforcing the fact that ‘food makes me feel better’.
What if we replaced the food part altogether.
BAD NEWS = MUST EAT FOOD = FEEL BETTER
BAD NEWS = MUST GO FOR A RUN/MUST HAVE A HOT BUBBLE BATH/MUST PHONE A FRIEND = FEEL BETTER
This way you don’t set yourself up to fall back into bad habits
Especially when you don’t have healthy food available to you at the time. Don’t think about replacing a bad habit with a better habit, think about replacing it with a new habit/action altogether.
Now what about when someone tries to entice you with food, whether intentionally or not? Here you need to learn how to use positive reinforcement.
Instead of saying:
“I can’t have that, I’m on diet” OR “I would love to but its not on my plan”
“No thank you, I’m still full from breakfast/lunch/dinner” OR “I’m okay but thank you for the offer”
Instead of focusing, even subconsciously, on the positive we are choosing to be empowered in the moment.
Not being ‘forced’ into something you know is yummy but don’t really want to have because it isn’t getting you closer to your goals. If you find yourself constantly being tempted and sabotaged by the same person(s) try avoiding contact with them for a while until you are emotionally and mentally more prepared to say no thank you.
There is absolutely NO shame in distancing yourself from these people for a while because sometimes it is necessary to be selfish to be successful (and put your needs/wants first).
Let me know if you have mastered how to create healthier habits for yourself. Do you find avoiding the ‘temptation’ is better for you, or just learning to say no thank you? Let us know
Yours in Health and Fitness’
Fit Farm Girl