It may seem hard, but it’s definitely not impossible and imagine how good you’ll feel when you conquer that first habit.
Changing a lifetime of bad eating habits can be challenging, but with dedication and persistence it is possible to change negative eating patterns. Here are five simple tips to help you make lasting changes:
1. Start Small
Trying to change everything at once can be overwhelming and lead to burnout. Instead, focus on one eating habit at a time. Choose one unhealthy habit you’d like to change that will help you achieve your long-term weight loss goals, then decide what you’ll do instead. Make sure your new habit is relatively easy to implement so you aren’t tempted to quit early on. As you succeed with switching one bad habit to a healthy alternative, gradually introduce other changes. Making sustainable changes to your eating habits and exercise routine, increases the chances of long-term success.
Let’s look at an example. If you find that eating junk food after dinner is a problem, decide what you’ll do instead. You could save an apple from your daily fruit allowance and have this, or you could decide to brush your teeth after dinner and make your kitchen a no-go zone.
Often night eating is caused because we are tired, start to relax, and our thoughts drift to spoiling ourselves with a treat. Changing this habit will help not only to lose weight but to maintain your healthy weight going forward.
2. Set Clear and Specific Goals
Define your goals in clear, specific, and measurable terms. Rather than vague aspirations like “I want to be healthier,” be specific about what you want to achieve, such as “I want to exercise for 30 minutes three times a week” or “I want to have a healthy breakfast each day.”
Here’s an article I wrote about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, that will help you to set goals that are not only clear and specific but also realistic.
3. Identify Triggers and Obstacles
Understand what triggers your old habits and what obstacles might stand in your way. Recognising these factors will help you plan how to deal with them. For instance, if stress tends to lead you to unhealthy eating, find alternative coping mechanisms like going for a walk, meditating, or talking to a friend.
The easiest way to identify triggers is to recognise what comes before the habit. For example, if you find that you eat junk food on the drive home from work, it’s likely to be your way of coping with a stressful day at work. Use some of the coping mechanisms above instead of reaching for food. If you eat in your car or have a favourite couch that you always eat snacks on, then ban eating at both these locations.
4. Create a Supportive Environment
Surround yourself with people who support your goals and want to see you succeed. Inform your friends and family about the changes you’re making, so they can encourage and assist you along the way. And try to modify your environment to support your new habits, for example, keep healthy snacks readily available and remove tempting unhealthy options. Don’t eat to please others, or feel embarrassed to say “no I can’t have this, I’m eating healthy.” Stand strong and proud that you’re doing something that’s important for your long-term health.
Avoid the blame game! Blaming others for resorting to poor eating habits or binge eating is not helpful. Taking responsibility for your actions and owning your choices will help you switch from being the victim to being empowered. Imagine how strong you’ll feel when you say ‘no’ to unhealthy food in the face of adversity.
And if you’re struggling to find support, remember my Symply With You Mentoring program is filled with support both from me and the lovely members in our private Facebook community. Find out all the ways you will be supported by my Symply With You community here.
5. Be Patient and Persistent
Changing a lifetime of bad eating habits takes time, and setbacks are a natural part of the process. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up occasionally. Instead, view setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Stay committed to your goals, and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem.
A few final thoughts
Remember, it’s okay to take things at your own pace. Don’t rush the process and be forgiving of yourself during this journey of change. Seek support from friends, family, or even a professional counsellor or coach if you find the process particularly challenging. I’m sure that these habits and triggers have been with you for many years so remember, with time, effort, and perseverance, you can successfully transform your habits and lead a healthier and more fulfilling life.
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