Smart Habits For Life - Eating Habits Changed

How To Create Healthy Eating Habits

  There are many important pieces to the puzzle of creating smart eating habits for life. One is how to form a habit that you want (like eating healthy) and make it routine or second nature. Another is recognizing the reasons why we eat and therefore controlling binges. A third is understanding how our bodies metabolize the foods we eat and why we need to eat nutritious food in order to keep our metabolism quick and our bodies burning calories all day.

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  In order to form a new habit, that is - a habit that we desire such as healthy eating or exercise, we must make it routine. There are two approaches to this that I prefer; 21 days and stair-stepping. Taking 21 days to break a habit is successful because it has been shown that it takes at least 21 days for your brain to form new neuropathways for the new routine, thus making it a habit. Commit to spending only 21 days eating healthy and then tell yourself you may quit at that time. Once the 21 days have passed, eating healthy is part of your new lifestyle and you will be less likely to quit or revert to old habits. Keep in mind that you must do 21 days in a row - if you 'cheat' during this time, you will have to begin again. If this method appeals to you, it can be explored more in the book by Steve Pavlina, The Power of Habit : Turn Goals Into Habits. I found this book to be a great resource for changing my personal eating habits.  Another method of creating new habits for life is called stair-stepping. This is where you would set 'mini' goals for yourself, say, eating healthy for 3 days per week and allowing yourself to cheat the other 4. Gradually increase your time spent practising the new habit by adding 1 day per week each month. The idea is to do this at a slow, steady pace. Eventually, you will find yourself spending your time eating healthy and very little, if any, 'cheating'. I have found both of these methods useful in creating new habits. One I used for creating new, healthy eating habits and the other I used to develop fitness habits and reach my goals in weight loss.

  Another important piece to creating smart habits for life is to understand your reasons for the behavior that you want to change. When I was trying to change my eating habits, I did a lot of research into why I ate. What I have discovered is that there are four main reasons for why I eat. These are that I am either; hungry, lonely, angry, or tired. Before I would eat, I would ask myself for which reason I was about to eat. If I was hungry - my stomach was growling and it had been 3-4 hours since my last meal or snack - then I could eat. If I was lonely, I would chat or text with a friend. If I was angry or stressed then I would not eat but go for a long walk or do an intense cardio workout to dissipate that stress. If I was tired, I would allow myself to go to bed early to rest with a good book and a cup of tea. Recognizing these reasons for eating has helped me tremendously in breaking the cycle of binge-eating (especially at night).

  What I eat is equally important. The foods I choose to eat are mainly vegetables, fruits, lean meat, dairy, and nuts. I have eliminated pre-packaged and processed foods from my diet. I stay away from bread, cereal, muffins, wraps, and other foods that contain wheat. By doing this, I have more energy and am less hungry throughout the day. For an example of one of my meal plans that I follow regularly, see my article : Healthy Foods - Eat To Be Healthy. I don't find it difficult to make it to the next snack or meal. I always have energy to do my workout each day on top of working full-time and running a busy household.

  Putting together a plan that considers how new habits are formed, reasons why I eat, and choosing the right types of foods has been the foundation of my success in changing my eating habits for the better and living a healthier, happier life.