Mindful Diet: Changing Diet Habits

Mindful Diet: Changing Diet Habits

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Changing habits is never as simple a task as we think, because our old habits have built up over the years and are often firmly entrenched.

Eating habits are among the most complicated, because they come with a host of different habits that are attached to them, such as:

And so on.

Knowing that there are layers upon layers of eating habits to change, how do we even get started?

The answer is: as simply as possible.

The Mechanism of Changing Eating Habits

To change an eating habit, here are the steps:

  1. Pick one habit at a time. Doing more than one is very difficult, and spreads your focus so that it is difficult to maintain the habits for very long. Choose just one to give yourself the best possible chance of sticking with it.
  2. Start small. Just a simple 5-minute habit is the best way to start. Trying to do too much is the best way to fail.
  3. Pick a trigger. A habit is something that you automatically do (or have the urge to do) after another event (the trigger). So if you normally shower after eating breakfast, then breakfast is the trigger for the habit of showering. Try to think of what you might do each day that can trigger your new habit. If you normally eat breakfast, that can be your trigger for making yogurt & fruit (your new habit). If you normally have chips as a snack after your 2 pm class (the trigger), you can eat fruit and nuts (new habit) after that class instead.
  4. Create accountability. You might use a blog, Facebook, a forum, or your friends and family as your accountability group.
  5. Do the habit every time the trigger happens. Ideally, you start with a once-a-day trigger and habit. Create visual reminders so you don’t forget to do the new habit after the trigger. When the trigger happens, do the habit. Report on this success (or failure, if you don’t do it) to your accountability group. Track your success each day so that you can see how many straight days you’ve done the habit. Try to do it consistently for a month.

Getting Started with Diet Habits

I recommend starting with a mindful eating habit, as we’re doing in The Mindful Diet course. Why? Because it helps you to identify emotional triggers that you might want to change, one at a time, in your future habit changes. Mindful eating also helps you to enjoy the taste of healthy food more, and thereby to make it easier to change the food you enjoy from unhealthy to healthy.

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