The first thing that comes to mind when we say healthy eating habits is the type of food you consume during your meals. However, the truth is much broader in scope. Focusing on a diet full of fruits, vegetables and low-fat diary products is a good start, but creating healthy eating habits also includes how you eat your food, how much food you consume, how you fill your plate and even the place where you consume the food.
So, permanently improving your eating habits requires a systematic approach, consisting of three parts:
In the first part you need to create a list in of all your eating habits. You can even create a “food diary” in the beginning for better overview. After this, thy to isolate the habits that make you healthier and the ones that do not. This is an important first step in becoming aware of your unhealthy habits and understanding how they affect you. After a few days, you will start to notice a pattern. Some examples that you may notice are:
• putting too much food in your plate
• eating too fast (bonus tip: it can take 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your body has had enough to eat)
- always finishing your plate
- skipping meals
- eating when you are not hungry
- having a dessert
Once you have identified all the unhealthy habits, the next step is to notice the cues that are triggering them. Some examples you may notice:
- you are always eating too fast when you are in the office
- having a dessert after lunch
- skipping the breakfast on Mondays
- having snacks when in front of the TV
The most important takeaways from this part is: first to notice the unhealthy eating habits; second - to notice the cues triggering them.
This is the most important part. Once the unhealthy habits and the cues that are triggering them are identified, you must replace them with new, healthy habits. You personally must commit to this change, you must force yourself. It can help having in mind the many benefits for your body, mind and soul, and also that each subsequent step will be easier than the previous one.
In terms of actual steps you need to take, here are some examples:
- schedule your meals
- “stretch” the duration of a meal to at least 15 min
- eat at least three different foods at each meal
- consume reasonable portions
- stop eating when you are full
- minimize distractions while eating, like watching TV
- don’t skip meals
- limit snacking
- and the most obvious one - replace cookies, cakes and pies with fruits and vegetables
Habits won’t stick if you do not commit to them. So, you must embrace the good healthy decisions you made in order to create permanent positive change in your body (and mindset). You can even find an accountability partner for your new habits.
Also, when you “catch” yourself in some unhealthy habit (and you will eventually), stop and ask yourself: When did I start doing this? Why I am doing this? Don’t berate or punish yourself, just answer correctly and take corrective (healthy) action. Millions of people have changed their eating habits, and so can you. Take it one step at a time! Good luck!