It is true to say that humans are creatures of habit, and therefore habits have a huge impact on all aspects of life, including our health. To successfully change your diet and maintain those changes over time, you must incorporate your new plan into your daily habits.
Changing rituals you have practiced over a lifetime can be difficult, so we have gathered our top five hacks to help change your food habits for good:
- Take note of your current habits. We are often unaware of the little food habits we have, many of which can make a difference – like that extra cookie we have with tea without thinking, or the ingredients we nibble at while preparing meals. The easiest way to get a true account of what you’re currently doing is to keep a food journal of everything you eat and drink for one week to identify what areas can be changed.
- Make healthy substitutions. Cutting your favorite foods out of your diet completely can be too difficult, and often leads to relapse. Instead, try making healthy substitutes for foods you currently eat. Instead of having sweet breakfast cereal, have oats with added fruits. If you usually have two cookies with your coffee, try cutting back to one, and make it homemade with less sugar. Also, be sure to change only one thing at a time, ensuring you are fully comfortable with that change before moving on to the next one. The goal is to make the change feel like a normal part of your routine.
- Make it visual. If your goal is to eat more of certain foods, make them more visible. If your goal is to eat more produce, put your fruit and vegetables out on the countertop where you will see them. If you want to drink more water, try putting marks on your water bottle to denote glasses so you can visually see your progress.
- Make it easy. We are programmed to choose the easiest options, particularly when we’re tired. This is why take-out and store-bought prepared meals are tempting after a long day. Unfortunately, these can be loaded with unwanted salt, fat, and sugar, along with preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients. Counteract this urge for an instant meal by eating smaller meals and snacks more often, and also by cooking double batches of healthy meals on the weekend to reheat and enjoy throughout the busy week.
Treat cooking and eating as a reward. In order for a habit to stick, you must be able to derive some pleasure from it. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be dull – far from it. If you goal is to eat better, seek out recipes you enjoy and modify them with smart ingredient swaps in order to make them healthier.
This will take a little trial and error, but it can be a fun game and extremely rewarding in the end. You can also start with healthy recipes, no swapping necessary. Luckily, we are here to help you with this – browse our top recipes, which will make healthy meal planning easy and delicious.