One of the most important milestones we need to be fully aware of in developing healthy eating habits is learning how to develop and establish steady ones. As human beings we always learn and develop habits by repeating patterns and establishing routines that help us structure our daily lives. We are driven to seek them because they’re predictable, and predictable means safe. We like to automate many of these too in order to fully concentrate on ways of developing our skills and carry out tasks like learning, studying, working, socializing, reading, etc.
For example we eat to obtain the fuel we need to function properly. Almost never, we stop to think about how we get that energy that allows us to function during the day. We mainly have the habit of eating at specific times of the day, specific types of foods, and in the end both component parts work together in a harmonious way. Only when we face an obstacle that is disturbing the harmony, we stop to observe our habits and think about ways we can redirect or change them.
Factors to consider
Step at a time
When we come to this point the first thing we need to understand is that change is done step at a time. Change demands a lot of energy from us, and while we are busy modifying and varying a habit, our daily life continues and we make change a parallel motion of our day. That is why changing a habit should be done one at a time.
In order to change a habit we need to establish motivation(s). Why are we doing this is the basic question to begin reviewing and establishing them. When we clear that out discipline begins to execute it’s part and they can work together. Without clarifying our motivations, our reasons begin to turn cloudy and become only an attempt with no direction at all that in the end will wear us down and discourage us. Motivations are the ones keep our reasons and us afloat.
One habit at a time
Change demands concentrating on one habit at a time. When we embark on this journey, we need to take into account that change shows itself in numerous facets and it challenges us to our maximum because having a habit means that we have internalized a structure that accompanies us everywhere and has become a part of the whole. And right here, at this point where we introduce a modification, is where our motivation and commitment will flourish or struggle. Therefore, devote all that energy too to only one.
Change involves many factors like emotions, consistency, motivation, focus, and patience, among other things, which time can’t exactly measure accurately, because these factors are immeasurable per se. Time is essential for every one of us as it allows us to measure and organize things based on an order or a sequence that works as an arrangement for many parts. But most of all, time allows us to follow up a tangible process closely. With time we can establish concrete data contrary to emotions and personal qualities, and exactly these have become deeply involved with our habits to the point of even shaping them. To modify or change a habit, we need to analyze our emotions responses towards food and how each has been formed in each one of us.
Writing down the process
One of the best ways to make emotions and personal qualities tangible is to write down the process of how we are trying to modify these responses. When we deal with them, we usually can‘t set a system where we find an order or a sequence to measure frequency, tendency and regularity. We feel them and they act upon our reactions depending on the memory formation we have developed in our hypothalamus between our nervous systems and emotional connections throughout our years of existence. That being said, writing down how we react and feel when we eat helps us discern accurately how our emotional reactions are affecting how and what we eat because we are making it conscious through the act of writing.
Another essential future of writing is creating an execution plan, where we establish how we plan to change our habits. Evaluating and feeling them is important to establish many connections and habits, and writing our commitment and how we plan to execute it is what is going to give direction to modifying old ones and establishing new ones.
Writing in general is an effective way to truly commit to something because we choose to drive our behavior consciously instead of unconsciously. We create a bond with our brain where the act of keeping a protocol let us realize which changes are actually taking place and which ones are not.
Support and guidance
Change needs support and guidance in the moments we hit rough spots. These two can help us realize objectively our obstacles and what is triggering them. They can encourage us, give us constructive and objective feed back since they are experiencing it from the rostrum, and finally they can help us create a solid system too, where we can see progress, which is also a mean of more motivation for us.
In every change we encounter setbacks and sometimes failure. They are part of the obstacles we always find during a process. Unfortunately, many of us often quit when we hit some of these. In an execution plan we need to include an outline of achievable strategies that help us overcome obstacles. It’s not about how to avoid them; they are going to appear along the way anyway. It’s about establishing base lines that will give us a hand in these times of need because when obstacles hit us and we aren’t prepared, it can be very demanding and challenging getting out of that situation.
Not knowing your triggers comes hand in hand with having obstacles along the way. Not knowing them, ignoring them and even not acknowledging them sets us in a great disadvantage towards achieving our goals and keeping our motivation high, because they are one of the main reasons why and how we have drawbacks. Knowing and analyzing them is the best way to gain control over them and put into effect our plan to change a habit.
Consistency is a key towards a good foundation on establishing habits. It depends on starting small, practicing daily, trying not to skip any option of practice, creating a routine and making it automatically. After all this has taken action we can introduce it to other areas of our life.
Just as we like to see and feel success, we should also reward them regardless of how little they are. It is a way to ensure that motivation will prevail and stay on our side during most of the way.
Remember 90% of every motivation and commitment comes from you. All these explanations are to assure you that they are solid base to achieve long-term changes in your different types of habits.