Create good habits to achieve your goal.
Here are some effective principles to follow when you’re trying to change your bad eating habits.
Habits can be hard to change because, well, they are habits. Each year, many of us look at changing some of our bad habits, and the best thing I can do to help my clients is to try to help them prioritize—and work on the easiest things first.
Whether you’re looking to change a number of bad habits or only one or two, there are some basic principles to consider when it comes to navigating your way through the behavior change process. So, here are some tips for smoother sailing:
Set your behavior goals and make them reasonable.
Be specific. “I want to get physically fit” or “I will eat better” are too vague. Instead, set a goal of “I will walk 30 minutes a day” or “I will pack my own lunch twice a week.”
Start with the easiest changes first.
Once you tackle those and feel successful, you’ll feel empowered to take on more challenges. As each small change becomes permanent, they’ll start to add up, which can also add up to big health benefits.
Don’t think ‘forever.’
Try to just get through a weekend without overdoing it, or take things a day at a time—or even a meal at a time if you have to.
Keep track so you know how well you’re doing.
If you’ve been trying to boost your physical activity, keep a log of your minutes or miles. If you’re trying to cut back on sweets, set a limit for the week and keep track. And for each small success, give yourself a pat on the back.
Try to anticipate what might derail you and plan accordingly.
If parties are your undoing, plan to have a snack before you go, and decide ahead of time how many drinks you’ll have. If you know you’ll hit the snooze button instead of exercising in the morning, put the alarm clock across the room—right next to your workout clothes.
Practice the art of distraction.
When you get the urge to eat something you shouldn’t, tell yourself that you’ll wait 15 minutes before you give in. Chances are, you’ll get busy doing something else and forget about it.
Notice what triggers your bad habits and break the chain.
If the vending machine at work tempts you every time you walk by, find another route so you’ll avoid it, or don’t carry any money with you. To stop nighttime noshing, head into the bathroom to brush your teeth instead of into the kitchen to raid the refrigerator.