Healthy eating can feel complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. No more strict diets, no more inflexible eating plans. You can simplify healthy eating by creating habits.
Habits are the simplest and most sustainable way to achieve and maintain a healthy diet and weight for life. Here are some handy tips and tricks to create healthy habits that stick, followed by 3 vital healthy eating habits to get you started.
We hope that this information will help you to continue to drive healthy change—change for good—once your 90 day plan with Purition comes to an end.
Why habits, not diets?
When it comes to your health, temporary changes bring temporary results. Rigid diets might give you a quick fix, but it’s unrealistic to follow strict guidelines consistently and to the letter for 365 days a year. We’ve all been there, done that and ended up right back where we started!
Habits, on the other hand, become an effortless part of your life. Think brushing your teeth, making a morning cuppa or walking the dog. They happen automatically, without much thought at all.
We believe that building healthy eating habits into your lifestyle is the best way to simplify healthy eating. Unlike strict diets, habits don’t require willpower or zap up all of your energy every day. Instead, they put healthy eating on auto-pilot and make your life much easier, healthier and more enjoyable.
How to make habits stick
We know what you’re thinking: healthy habits sound great, but how can I actually make them stick? Try one of these simple habit-forming tricks. They’ll help you to incorporate new habits within the structure of your existing daily routine.
The idea behind habit stacking is simple: add a new behaviour to your daily schedule by ’stacking’ it on top of something you already do.
- Step 1: Pick a habit that you already do regularly
- Step 2: Link the existing habit with a new habit that you want to add to your routine
We’ll use meal planning as an example:
- Step 1: I already sit down for breakfast every Sunday morning
- Step 2: While eating my breakfast every Sunday morning, I will plan my meals for the week ahead
Studies show that 21 days is enough to make a new habit permanent, so stick with it for a few weeks and it should become second nature.
Habit pairing is when you link up something you genuinely enjoy doing with a new (and maybe not so enjoyable) habit that you’re trying to stick to.
- Step 1: Pinpoint an enjoyable activity you do regularly
- Step 2: Link the activity with a new healthy habit you want to add to your routine
Let’s use cooking from scratch as an example here.
- Step 1: I enjoy watching my favourite soaps every evening
- Step 2: I will watch my favourite soaps on my iPad whilst cooking a healthy meal from scratch every evening
You naturally want to do the things that you enjoy, so this method is a great way to motivate yourself to implement a new habit. After a while, you might even find yourself looking forward to it!
3 vital habits for healthy eating
Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to make healthy habits stick, which ones should you start with? Meal planning, shopping and cooking.
These 3 habits are a vital step towards a lasting healthy diet, because they inform the food choices that you’ll make week in, week out.
By making meal planning and cooking from scratch a habit, you’ll naturally eat more fresh, wholesome meals that you genuinely enjoy and feel less tempted to reach for (or order in) foods that diminish your health and energy.
Vital habit 1: Meal planning
Planning your meals ahead of time provides structure and gentle direction towards healthier food choices, without the feeling of being tied down to a strict diet. You can choose the food you actually want to eat and know what’s going in it, too.
- Make better food choices
- Plan meals you genuinely enjoy
- Experience less food stress
- Save time and money
Struggle to stick to meal planning? Try the habit stacking method. Pick a time where you already sit down at a table and simply add meal planning to the occasion. Your everyday meals don’t need to be fancy. Pick quick, easy-to-prepare recipes made with a handful of fresh ingredients—Stonesoup is a great place for inspiration.
Most people try to meal plan weekly, but there are no rules. If you think meal planning every 3, 5, 10 or 14 days will work better for you, try it that way instead. And we’re all for time-saving, so there’s nothing wrong with making 2 or 3 plans and alternating them week by week.
Vital habit 2: Shopping
Most unhealthy food choices are made impulsively. If you don’t have the right ingredients for a healthy meal come 6 pm, you’re more likely to pick up takeaway than trudge to the shop, buy ingredients, come home and cook.
You can close that door by making food shopping a habit, to ensure you always have enough fresh food in your kitchen to make healthy meals. Whether that’s a weekly trip to the farmers market, an evening supermarket run or a delivery, it doesn’t matter. Just find something that works for you.
You need the right ingredients to cook healthy meals. Rather than winging your shop, go prepared, with a list of ingredients that you actually need for your meals. The good news is that if you make meal planning a habit, the shopping list comes in tandem.
Vital habit 3: Cooking
Cooking from scratch at home (for at least 5 or 6 days of the week) promotes a healthier diet in so many ways. You can choose fresh, nutrient-dense whole food ingredients, have complete control over what’s going into your meals and gain a firmer grip on how much you’re actually eating.
- Gain complete control over your food
- Eat healthier meals
- Avoid hidden ingredients
- Save money
If you’re used to ready-made food and meals out, we know that cooking from home can feel daunting. The best way to get started, stress-free, is to plan your meals ahead of time, as mentioned above. You’ll quickly get into the swing of it.
And if you don’t enjoy cooking, focus on making it a positive experience by using the habit pairing trick. This might be watching your favourite TV show every night while you cook, listening to a podcast or playing your favourite songs on full blast.
Even if they feel like a challenge at first, new healthy eating habits can quickly become routine. Building healthy habits into your lifestyle will allow you to switch from dieting to healthy eating, which is key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for life. The good news is that Purition can be by your side, every step of the way, to make these lifestyle changes much easier to adopt.