New year, new you – easier said than done, right? For those of you staring balefully at another bunch of kale in an effort to introduce some healthier elements into your routine, here are eight easy ways used by industry professionals to build new habits and make them stick (as always, check with your medical professional to make sure these tips fit into your lifestyle).
Make It Convenient
Let’s be honest – sticking to healthy habits can be enough of a challenge, so make it easy for yourself by doing things such as prepping meals ahead of time. Psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert advises making healthy meal prep a habit as ingrained as brushing your teeth (also, remember to brush your teeth!)
Looking for more ways to work nutritious dishes into your routine? Check out these 20 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas To Get You Through The Week
Say Goodbye To Guilt By Association
A 2011 study by University of Southern California researchers tested how badly people really wanted movie popcorn by serving them both stale and fresh versions. They discovered that people were chowing down on the stale ones out of habit, even when they complained about the taste. Think about that kernel of information the next time you’re camped out on the couch mindlessly eating potato chips, and consider whether you really want them or are just following a routine.
For something healthier to grab when cravings strike, try these Vegetable Chips
Listen to Fullness Cues
Fullness is a relative feeling that is unique to each individual, but you can train your own brain to get the message that you’ve had enough. Dietitian Elise Resch and nutritional therapist Evelyn Tribole recommend using a numerical scale system to gauge your own hunger and fullness, from zero (extreme hunger) to 10 (uncomfortably full) and stopping eating when you are at around 6 or 7.
Plan ahead with these Tasty Vegan Snacks With 10 Ingredients or Less
The transtheoretical model puts people trying to make a change in one of five categories: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. The idea is that, with practical steps, the proposed change (such as yoga or deep breathing to avoid stress-induced bad behaviour during the “action stage”) is an ongoing process. Take this concept into the kitchen by setting an eating schedule (and make it pleasurable – use a favourite plate or something with positive associations).
Ditch bad eating habits with these easy tips for the year ahead
Thinking about your future can help you establish habits now, says Dr. Leonard Epstein, who studies behaviour change and decision-making at the University of Buffalo. Imagining how small changes, such as better nutritional choices, will have an impact on your future self, will help you stick to those goals.
Find out how a Nutritionist Does Meal Prep Every Sunday
Location, Location, Location
Harvard University researchers found that placing bottled water in strategic locations around a hospital cafeteria led to decreased soda sales – a technique you can borrow around the house by keeping water with you in a stylish bottle or carafe, or placing reminders on each floor to hydrate regularly.
For more inspiration, here are 15 Healthy Foods to Eat Every Day, Backed By Science