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Get excited about reading again with fun and interesting tips from our experts, including The M.D., our dietitians, and our fitness expert. In our health library, you will find all of the information you need to achieve your goals of making a healthy lifestyle change. So, start reading and start losing!

Diet Solutions

Have a question about diets like the Mediterranean diet, South Beach Diet, or Zone Diet? Would you like to learn more about creating a low-sodium, diabetes, or gluten-free diet? You've come to the right place!

6 Steps to Break Bad Eating Habits

Though they say the best way to stop a bad habit is to never begin it, can bad eating habits be broken if already created? Fortunately, changing eating habits and health for the better can be ensured with these six steps and included tips!

6 Steps to Break Bad Eating Habits


They say the best way to stop a bad habit is to never begin it. 

But what if that habit, including bad eating patterns, already began? Should you ride it out in hopes it will eventually dissipate? Or should you take the reigns and learn how to control eating habits?

We believe and hope for the latter.

And fortunately, changing eating habits for the better is attainable with these six steps and tips.

How to Break Bad Eating Habits

1. Personalize Your Purpose

Eating healthy provides an array of celebrated health benefits, including supporting a healthy weight, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and adding on precious years of life. 

Yet, while the advantages are well-known, we might still regularly find ourselves calling in for takeout most nights of the week and answering to that bag of chips when that midafternoon snack attack calls.

Then how do changes surface? They ultimately prosper when the "want" comes from within and you convince yourself that you actually can make personal changes. Truthfully, digging dig and knowing your purpose and desire to break eating habits can help motivate a greater follow-through.

Inspiration may come from your kids, including wanting to have the energy to play with them after a long day of work. You may also feel motivated within your job, as a healthy diet offers the vitality for optimal brain function and performance.

2. Identify Triggers and Modify Behaviors

Trigger»Behavior»Reward

Triggers are essentially the driving point to a routine habit. Add in a pleasurable reward, such as the delectable, sweet taste of a donut, habits tend to become strengthened. But taking out or adjusting the trigger can halt the sequence and lead to a different outcome.

Triggers also come in a mixed bag and may stem from social, stressful, and environmental situations. In the context of stress (trigger), you may find yourself heading to a carton of ice cream (behavior) and overindulging on delectable scoops (reward).

Rewind and restructure the scenario by first recognizing stress as the trigger. You can then modify the followed behavior to disrupt food as a reward, which may include taking a walk, calling a friend, meditating, and practicing other positive coping techniques you find enjoyable.

3. Make Simple, Small, and Concrete Swaps

Changing eating habits can be hard and intimidating, though simply swapping out bad eating habits with healthier ones can help ease and guarantee the process. What's more, identify substitutions that are concrete and inspire true action. 

Simple swaps that align with the overall outcome of eating healthier may involve the following scenarios:

Scenario #1: Relying on a package of donuts from the convenience store on the way to work.

Healthy Eating Swap: Preparing a nutritious breakfast that can be made ahead or prepared quickly, including egg wraps, Greek yogurt parfaits, protein-packed pancakes, quinoa bowls, and mini egg frittatas.

Scenario #2: Calling in for takeout most nights of the week.

Healthy Eating Swap: Making it point to prepare a homemade dinner at least four days out of the week.

Scenario #3: Going into the kitchen and giving into those late night munchies with a sleeve of cookies.

Healthy Eating Swap: Allow yourself to enjoy a cookie or two, "close up" the kitchen, brush your teeth, and head to bed. Sleeping 7 to 9 hours nightly is key for managing cravings throughout all times of the day and supporting a healthy body weight.

Scenario #4: Using the fryer to cook all, or at least most, foods.

Healthy Eating Swap: Try various cooking methods, including baking, roasting, grilling, and steaming. You can also elevate flavor by adding herbs, spices, and lemon juice to various foods.

Scenario #5: Resorting to the drive thru for quick, yet nutritionally-dissatisfying lunch or dinner amidst a busy schedule.

Healthy Eating Swap: Consider using a meal delivery service to provide nutritious and delicious meals straight to your doorstep – no grocery shopping, meal prepping, or cleaning required! Now that is convenience at its finest (and tastiest)!


4. Be Realistic and Forgiving

Habits took time to develop, so it is important to recognize they will not exactly change overnight. That being said, be realistic with your expectations. What’s more, there will also be times you feel discouraged when altering bad eating habits.

So likewise value perfection is not realistic and even the most dedicated deal with their own struggles. So instead of throwing in the towel altogether, take each struggle as a learning opportunity and strategize how you can refocus and adapt into a positive outcome.

5. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a nonjudgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations while eating and promotes the notion of "all foods fit." The idea of mindful eating aims to strip down the stigma of "unhealthy" or "bad" foods and incorporates all foods within the diet.

Additionally, the practice supports individuals to intently focus on internal cues of hunger and satiety, as well as external motivators that drive behaviors to foods. Recognizing the smells, flavors, and textures of foods is also a strong foundation of mindful eating.

Increasing awareness of food and all feelings and experiences tied to it can naturally unravel to healthier eating practices, especially when you start noticing how nutritious foods improve health at all levels.

6.Seek External Support

Sometimes inheriting greater internal strength is by seeking out and accepting external support – and that is completely okay! What's more, evidence shows support is one of the strongest influences for initiating and sustaining behavior change.

Support can come from a number of outlets, including from family members, close friends, online communities, and professional counselors.



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