It’s so good, but yet, many times it’s so bad.
And even though we know how bad certain foods are, we still continue to them; you still continue to them.
And I’m sure you’ve tried before to develop healthier eating habits before, but you just can’t make it stick.
Well that stops today. I’m going to share an exact step by step process you can use to develop healthy eating habits.
Develop Healthy Eating Habits – The Steps:
Step 1 – Have an end goal
Anytime you want to create a habit, you have to tie into a bigger goal, and a bigger vision for your life. Why do you want to develop healthy eating habits? What is that going to do for your life?
You also want to be as specific as possible. Just saying I want to “develop healthy eating habits” isn’t good enough. Does healthy eating habits mean you go paleo? Does it mean you cut out carbs? You have to define what healthy eating looks like for you.
For myself, healthy eating means that 90% of the meals I eat consist of fish or chicken, vegetables, and healthy carbs. It also means that I consuming at least 64 ounces of water, but on a good day that number is closer to 120 ounces.
I’ve clearly defined what healthy eating looks like for me.
And you can’t develop healthy eating habits until you’ve defined what healthy eating looks like for you.
Step 2 – Start Small
Once you’ve defined what healthy eating means for your particular situation, I suggest that you take a bit of a slower methodical approach to developing your habits.
When I changed my eating habits for the better, it didn’t happen overnight. And I didn’t change my habits for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all at once either.
You know where I started to develop my own healthy eating habits?
Yup, that’s right. I radically changed my eating habits by starting out with changing what I drink.
I used to order a soda every time I was out at a restaurant. But I committed myself to ordering only water whenever I ate out. I didn’t limit what food I ordered, I first just wanted to develop the habit of drinking water instead of soda.
It was a super small commitment, but the results were phenomenal.
Step 3 – Increase the Intensity
Once I mastered my H20 habit, I started swapping out french fries for vegetables. Then I swapped out the fried foods for grilled. And before I knew, every time I was eating out, my plate was about as healthy as you could get at a restaurant.
And eventually my eating habits at restaurants started to spill over into eating habits at home, and at work, and everywhere else.
Once I had my restaurant eating tamed, I started swapping out my eating habits at home. And again, I didn’t try and tackle everything at once, instead I focused on one specific area first: breakfast.
I focused on eating egg whites, oatmeal, greek yogurt, and water. And I kept at it until that became a habit for breakfast.
Three years later, I’m still eating a hearty, healthy breakfast.
Once I mastered by breakfast eating, then I ventured off into my lunch and dinner options. But again, I focused in on one area first, gained mastery, and then scaled from there.
Step 4 – Plan for Temptation
You know what derails most people from truly finding success? They overestimate their ability to resist temptations. But here’s what’s crazy, studies have shown the people who believe they have the most self control, actually have the least and are most likely to succumb to temptation.
This means that by not planning for temptation, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that you’ll give into it. And giving into temptation will completely derail your attempts to develop healthier eating habits.
So you must identify all of the temptations you might face that could derail your progress.
Here are the two temptations that typically caused problems for me as I tried to develop healthy eating habits.
First was being too tired to cook up a healthy meal. Second was being too tempted by the junk food in my house. Let’s look at each of those.
Overcoming the “too tired” excuse
Look below at step 6 and you’ll see the one strategy I use to eat super healthy foods, even when I’m too tired to cook.
Being tempted by the junk food in your house
This problem is actually very easy to fix, and you fix it all with one word:
That’s right. If there’s food in your house right now, and I mean anywhere in your house, that you feel would be detrimental to you consistently eating healthy foods, then throw the food away! It doesn’t make sense to keep food in your house if it’s something you have to force yourself not to eat.
Throw it out.
Step 5 – Choose Your Cue
As I’ve said before, habits are composed of a three part loop: the cue, the routine and the reward. You want to choose a consistent cue that will set your new, healthy eating habit in motion.
For my eating habits, my trigger was typically time. I would eat my breakfast typically right after I woke up: before I got dressed, before I checked emails, before everything else.
My lunch and dinner were typically around the same time every day as well. The consistency may seem a bit “over the top” but it’s that consistency that will enable you develop healthy eating habits AND make them stick.
Anyone can eat healthy for one meal, but it takes a proven process for consistently eating healthier foods.
Step 6 – Choose Your Reward
Again, every habit has to have some sort of reward before it actually becomes permanent. You have to pick a reward that will make you feel good for eating healthy foods.
My reward for eating healthy is simple…
I feel good internally that I’m filling my body up with clean foods. Also, (as you’ll see in the last step) when I eat healthy meals during the work, it gives me the freedom I need to loosen my diet on the weekends.
So what reward could you give yourself for eating healthy foods instead of the processed crap that’s so readily available ?
Pick one that’s compelling and that you’ll actually want to receive.
Step 7 – Pro Tip: Cook Your Food in Advance (Meal Prepping)
Meal prepping has been, by far, my number one tool for consistently eating healthier meals. As I mentioned above, one of my biggest temptations for eating junk food was being too tired to cook a healthy meal.
Well, meal prepping got rid of that problem completely. What is meal prepping you say?
Meal Prepping – the act of cooking enough food at one time to last you for several days.
It’s a really simple concept. Here’s an example:
Say it’s Sunday and you’re cooking dinner. Since you already have all of the food out, and you’re already in a “cooking” mood, instead of cooking food just for that night, you cook enough food to last you for the next three days.
That’s it. You cook enough food on day 1 that will last you until day 4.
This little trick works so well because you maximize your time, and you completely avoid the excuse of being “too tired” to cook up a healthy meal. All you’ll have to do is open up the fridge, throw your prepped meal in the microwave, and enjoy!
Again, this one tactic has drastically improved my ability to develop healthy eating habits.
Step 8 – Pro Tip: Give Yourself a Break (Cheat Meals)
Cheat meals keep me sane. Usually once or twice a week, I have a day where I loosen up my diet and take in a few of the unhealthier junk foods that I enjoy.
You only live once, so you shouldn’t completely remove the joys of your favorite foods just because they’re a little unhealthy. You can still have them, just in moderation.
In my family, typically every Friday is our family “cheat day”. We’ll all go out together and just enjoy a good meal without worrying about whether or not it’s healthy.
And do you know what the best part of a cheat meal is?
It’s totally guilt free!
Since you’ve spent your entire week eating well, you start to feel like you’ve earned your cheat meal, and that’s absolutely true. So the fact that you earned it, removes all of the typical guilt associated with eating unhealthy foods.
With the process I’ve laid out in the post, you’ll have the perfect starting point for developing healthy eating habits.
- Create a goal and truly understand why the habit is important
- Start with small gradual change and increase the intensity over time. Don’t try and change all of your eating habits once.
- Plan for temptation and understand what you’ll do to overcome or avoid the temptation.
- Create your habit loop with the cue , routine and reward.
- Cook your meals in advance, and give yourself a break everyone once in a while.