One of the most difficult, but most rewarding, struggles in a journey to health is that of building healthy habits. They’re difficult to form, but once you’ve formed a good habit, it’s quite easy to keep your momentum up and continue the healthy behaviour.
Habits are the foundation on which we build our lives. They’re the actions that we don’t have to think about, because we know them off by heart from long association. About half of everything we do is simple habit – from our morning routines to making a cup of coffee or tea at our morning breaks. If our foundation is healthy, then our lives are much more likely to be healthy and happy too. The trick is to ensure that our habits are healthy ones!
Some of the most important habits that you can address are your nutritional habits. Have a good look at your eating patterns, and where they could do with some improvement. Do you have any persistent unhealthy eating patterns attached to specific behaviour? For example, do you always eat chocolate when you sit down to watch a favourite TV show? Do you always stop in at McDonald’s if you drive a specific route home from work? Is there a specific snack box that you find yourself drifting towards around 3pm every afternoon?
Changing a habit requires care, attention, and consistency. Remember that we form habits because they make life easier and require less thought than non-habits. So the key for most people when it comes to changing habits is: don’t do too much at once. Change one single habit at a time, and concentrate your attention on that one habit. It might be frustrating to see only slow changes in your lifestyle, but slow change is more likely to be permanent change than fast, overwhelming change. Being consistent is the key to real change.
When it comes to changing nutritional habits, make it as easy on yourself as possible. Ensure that you have all the right tools available and ready to go:
- Quality cooking utilities and utensils.
- A good high-speed food processor or blender makes food preparation much easier.
- A slow cooker can save time by cooking your meal slowly while you’re at work or doing other jobs.
- Tupperware to store pre-made food in.
Becoming consistent in your eating
There are some fairly simple changes that most people can make to their weekly schedule to assist in gaining consistency in eating habits. Consider implementing these suggestions:
- Devote at least one day a week to buying, washing, and chopping up vegetables for use in cooking and snacks. This makes it easier to stay consistent in your improved eating habits.
- Every time that you cook a meal, cook enough to refrigerate or freeze for another day’s meals. This limits the chances that you’ll find yourself too busy or too tired to cook – and eating junk food instead.
- Use a slow cooker to cook larger quantities of curries, stews or soups. These softer meals are ideal for freezing in meal-size portions.
- Plan the majority of your cooking for the week, and write a shopping list to ensure that you have all the ingredients that you’ll need. This sounds laborious, but if you’re following the suggestions above, the extra effort is minimal – and saves you losing a newly-developed, good habit due to disorganisation.