The thing about a habit is that it is difficult to break. This can be a good thing if for example, you have got into the habit of taking your dog for a walk every afternoon, but it can also be not such a good thing – that packet of chips you buy at work every day, even when you’re not hungry, or sitting on social media until late into the night.
If you are keen to get healthier and transform your current lifestyle, you are going to have to break a lot of old lifestyle habits. This is not an easy thing to do because a habit very quickly becomes part of a comfortable and almost unconscious routine.
So if you are not sure where, when or how to start trading those old bad habits for new, healthier ones, read on for our list of do’s and don’ts:
Throw everything at it on day one. Nothing but a boiled egg and a grilled piece of fish a day means you’ll lose weight in the short term but it’s hardly a lifestyle change that you can maintain for years. You’re bound to feel completely deprived sooner rather than later and give up, leaving you feeling like a failure.
Begin by taking a conscious a look at all your eating habits, both good and bad. A useful idea may be to keep a food diary for a week (remember to include everything you drink too). Use the diary to reveal habits that you were hardly aware of – like that huge dollop of mayo on your healthy green salad – and focus on one or two changes you are willing and able to make.
Take a closer look at some of the most common habits that result in an unhealthy lifestyle and see if they apply to you. Do you eat too fast? It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know when you are full so take your time, chew your food properly, and pause between bites. Another bad habit is one we are all guilty of – eating when we are not hungry. That piece of birthday cake at work, or mindlessly eating the biscuit that comes with your cappuccino are habital actions that we are hardly realise we are doing. Eating standing up, on the run, at your desk or in front of the TV are also mindless and often lead to overeating – work on strategies to counter these habits, like eating lunch with a colleague, or eating mindfully and with no distractions (like the TV).
Allow food or alcohol to become your go-to response to stress. Using food and alcohol as a comforter is something most of us can relate to – rather comfort yourself by having a long bath, speaking to a supportive friend, or doing something soothing like meditating
Be kind to yourself. If you’ve had a bad day at work and find yourself halfway through a bar of chocolate, don’t beat yourself up. Rather slow down, savour and enjoy each bite and eat more mindfully tomorrow. Self-regard, self-respect and self-love are also good habits you should be practicing!