Health & Wellness

Adding New Healthy Habits to your Daily Routine

By Tawnya Manion | October 23, 2012

Changing one’s eating habits from “bad” to “good”, though important for health, is not an easy task. It takes education, change in habits, a shift in awareness, and copious amounts of motivation. However, the approach to how we are educated in modifying our diets, coupled with our unwillingness to break old practices keeps our bodies bloated, tired, and susceptible to diseases.

Telling someone what not to eat only sets them up for failure. No one likes to be told to cut out their favorite foods, and the result of this “not-to-do” list only leads to rebellion, not a change in behavior. In an interview with Maxime Bilet, who recently did a kitchen takeover at Ginny’s, he reiterated this concept by saying, “ I disagree with most principles that mean “nutrition” and not by the sense that you should eat healthy foods. It’s the philosophy behind how it is practiced. As soon as you say “healthy food” people think it must not taste good, so there is a whole language that I think needs to be restructured.” Instead of thinking of ways to take out the fat, salt and sugar, think about ways to add in olive oil, exotic spices, honey or apple sauce. This way you feel satisfied in your food choices instead of deprived.

Tackling “bad” eating habits when they have been a part of your everyday routine for years requires three steps that will help you get over the hump of your old food practices.

First, become aware of the habits that weigh you down. Do you eat right before bed? Skip breakfast or salt every piece of sustenance that crosses your path?

Second, figure out where you picked-up these old habits and why you repeat them through-out your daily life. Awareness of your daily patterns can help you pinpoint when you make unhealthy eating decisions, what drives you to repeat the same actions repeatedly, and why you frequently forget your good intentions.

Third, configure a plan on how you will slowly turn your sub-standard routine into one that will make you the picture of health. If you add new consuetudes one at a time, the task will becomes less over whelming and more likely to become second nature.

According to a study done by Professor Jan Wardle and Dr. Phillippa at the University College, it takes an average of 66 days in the exact same environment to secure a new habit. The study was performed by asking volunteers to choose a healthy eating, drinking, or exercise habit that they would like to add to their lives. Participants were asked to carry out the new behaviors each day in response to a particular cue, such as a salad with dinner, or a bottle of water with lunch. Then, the candidates were asked to answer questions on a test designed to calculate automaticity. The results concluded that it takes an average of 66 days to add a new habit; however, more intricate ones, such as adding a new exercise routine, took longer.

Taking steps to better your overall health may seem intimidating at first, but it’s all about small, daily victories. If you learn ways to keep yourself satisfied and make a conscious effort in your plan, the results will cancel out any reservations you ever had about adding new healthy habits to your daily routine.

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