Truth be told, we are all creatures of habits. We buy the same foods, prepare the same recipes, sit in front of the television snacking at night – you know those habits that are ingrained in our daily routines.
We get so comfortable in our routines that even when they undermine health, it is hard to give up old habits. In order to help improve your health, you need to start thinking differently about your diet, exercise and lifestyle routines.
To begin to break those bad habits, you need to become aware of the habits you want to change, figure out why these occur and make a plan to slowly change one habit at a time into a new, healthier one.
- Consider these six simple tips to help change bad habits into healthy habits that may trim your waistline and improve your health:
Take it one step at a time. Set yourself up for success by only attempting to change one bad habit at a time. Examples of good habits that can translate into lifelong healthy behaviors:
– Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
– Get eight hours of sleep each night, as fatigue can lead to over eating.
– Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
– Drink more water and fewer sweetened beverages.
– Buy less processed foods, sweets and treats.
- Become a mindful eater. Pay more attention to what you are eating and drinking. Sit down at a table without the distractions of phones, television or books and enjoy the dining experience. Some people benefit by keeping food diaries.
- Make a detailed plan for each habit. If your goal is to get physical activity for 30 minutes each day – how are you going to fit that into your schedule? Spell out precisely when and how you will adopt the new habit so it becomes part of your daily routine.
- Tackle a new habit to change each week. Baby steps may eventually add up to healthy changes that can go the distance. The goal is to repeat the healthy behaviors regularly so they overtake the bad habits and become the new normal. It may take up to a month for any new action to become habit.
- Be realistic with your goals. Change is hard and some of those habits are going to take time to break especially if you have been doing them for years. If your goal is to lose weight, experts recommend about 1-2 pounds weight loss per week.
- Practice stress relief. Find coping mechanisms such as exercise, relaxation, yoga or meditation to deal with the stress in your life so it doesn’t bring back those bad habits.
Source: ERS News (January 20, 2017)