How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

Need help establishing healthy habits this year? Find out how to make healthy habits stick so you can achieve the lifestyle change you’re after.

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Treating your body as well as you possibly can takes dedication, perseverance, and (you guessed it!) a whole bunch of healthy habits. This isn’t something you can establish overnight unless you have an iron will. For the rest of us, implementing healthy habits and sticking to them is an ongoing process.

How to Form Healthy Habits

Creating healthy changes in your life means that little decisions and actions need to become ingrained in your routine. You’ve heard of the term lifestyle change, right? Crafting a routine filled with healthy habits is the exact same thing. Having healthy habits changes how you think so eventually, instead of telling yourself to eat veggies with every meal, you just do it! No decision necessary.

We like to make little changes, one by one, that grow together to represent holistic change. This theory of change makes a lifestyle overhaul easier since it affords you stepping stones between your starting point and your health goals.

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If the healthy habit you want to establish is to work out everyday and you aren’t used to doing so, you may push yourself too hard and abandon ship if the habit seems too exhausting to maintain long term. But working in a few push ups a day as opposed to a full-on workout is much easier. See what we mean? Focus on stacking up bite-sized healthy habits in order to build up and enjoy the benefits of overall lifestyle changes.

Habit Formation

To form a habit, the activity you’re trying to incorporate into your life needs to become second nature. To get there, we suggest following the three Rs of habit formation. This strategy was recently popularized by James Clear but has been popping up (more or less eloquently) since at least 2010 . The three Rs are:

1. Reminder

When deciding on the habit you want to establish, it’s helpful to put it in context. If you’re aiming to eat a piece of fresh fruit every day, you’re more likely to follow through if you tie the activity to a consistent cue from your day-to-day life. For example, eat a piece of fruit every day with lunch.

When you’re packing your lunch, you’ll automatically put a piece of fruit in, and you can adjust your portions to make sure the fruit—rather than an extra handful of chips or a cookie—gets eaten every day.

2. Routine

This means consistently engaging in the activity you want to become a habit. You can pack an apple in your lunch all you want, but if you don’t eat it you haven’t made it part of your routine.

3. Reward

Practicing self-affirmation —that is, praising yourself for a job well done or identifying how your habits align with your core values—after engaging in your healthy habit can help you stick to it. It may also be the most gratifying part of incorporating your habit into your day-to-day life.

You may have heard (or read somewhere on the internet) that it takes 30 days to form a good habit. This would be great, really, but studies show that it takes closer to 10 weeks or two and a half months for an action to become a genuinely habitual part of your routine.

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To keep you on track with your healthy changes for the full 10 weeks, accountability is key! This can achieved in a variety of ways—from checking in with friends or on social media to starting a fitness journal. And don’t worry too much if you veer away from your new habit momentarily. Studies found that getting off track (thanks to a weekend-long Netflix binge, a vacation, whatever) did not seriously impact habit formation so long as you jump right back in. Don’t beat yourself up about a setback, just keep on trucking and you’ll eventually be golden.

Healthy Habits You Can Aim for This Year

Although everyone is in a different spot when it comes to their wellness and lifestyle goals, we can all make positive changes. Even if they are little, these changes can have a positive impact on your health. Here are our top ideas for healthy habits to implement this year

  • Focus on a healthy, well-rounded diet. You can start with an apple a day and work your way up to cleaner, more conscientious eating.
  • For the couch potatoes among us: Incorporate regular workouts. Start with making your day more active and work your way into to a full-blown fitness routine.
  • Get enough sleep (because lack of sleep is all-around bad for you).
  • Drink enough water.
  • Start a meditation practice.
  • Get enough quality social time in to prevent loneliness .

Apps to Get You There

Healthy changes need to become healthy habits in order to have the long-lasting wellness impacts you’re after. But until a healthy activity has become an automatic part of your day, one of the most helpful ways of keeping on track and moving toward habit formation is with proactive reminders and intentional scheduling.

We highly recommend setting reminders on your phone or calendar (for example, “6:30: 7-minute Meditation”). This works for everything from setting a healthy bedtime to a reminding yourself to eat your salad at lunch. If you’re using online meditation or fitness resources, copy–paste the URL into your calendar description so you can access the resource easily when your calendar reminder pops up!

Those of us with somewhat sedentary lifestyles and office jobs can also use fitness trackers like the Fitbit that will remind us to get up and move our bodies every hour.

Whatever your healthy change may be, we know that taking the time to make it a habit will make your life so much easier. When healthy choices become second nature, your well-being can only benefit.

How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

This blog post was written by guest contributor Krista Happ of Happy Healthy Casa.

We all want to be healthy, and we know that what we put into our bodies has a direct impact on our health. But why, then, is making healthy choices day-to-day so hard for so many of us? In a day and age where there are convenience foods and sugary snacks lurking in every corner, it can be hard to make healthy choices. Couple that with sneaky marketing tactics and even sneakier ingredients, and well, it becomes easy to see why so many of us “fall off the wagon.”

But take it from a girl who indulged in all the things for so long with little consideration for the impact they were having on her body: You can make a change and you can stick with it — no matter where you are starting from. Today, I am sharing three practical ways to help make healthy eating habits stick for good!

What Doesn’t Work

Before we chat about how to make your desired habits stick, let’s take a moment to highlight what doesn’t work (at least for most):

  • Dieting
  • Depriving yourself.
  • Trying to change too much at once.
  • Going at it alone.
  • Making uninformed choices based on what others deem to be “healthy.”
  • Lacking an understanding of your body’s unique needs.

Making healthy eating habits stick is about fostering a lifestyle conducive to doing so. Depriving yourself, overwhelming yourself, taking it on by yourself, or lacking an understanding of yourself can all contribute to this lifestyle feeling unattainable. These things can often perpetuate that food rollercoaster too many of us find ourselves on. That said, a healthy relationship with food is not only possible, but also sustainable. It just comes down to setting yourself up for success.

How to Make Healthy Eating Habits Stick

Take incremental steps and build upon them.

Many people don’t succeed at making their healthy habits stick because they try to change too much at once. While this may work (and may even be necessary) for some, the majority of us work better when we ease into new habits. Thus, instead of tossing out every item in your pantry, start thinking about how you could begin buying healthier replacements once items have been used. Or instead of vowing to eat salad for every meal here on out, think about how you could start adding a few greens to those meals you already make.

Get Started Today!

Build an understanding of basic nutritional concepts and needs with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science offering courses in Applied Nutrition.

It doesn’t have to be a sprint.

Remember, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s okay to put in the time for it to stand the test of time. If you have a goal you are hoping to achieve through your healthier habits, setting “micro goals” can be beneficial in making the journey more manageable. Micro goals are incremental milestones that lead to your larger goal. Not only do they help you make a plan for success, but they also give you opportunities to celebrate small wins along the way. If your goal is to cut out all refined sugars from your diet, then maybe you start with a micro goal of cutting out soda for a week. Once you have accomplished that, celebrate and then plot your next step as you continue to work toward your end goal.

Involve the whole family.

If you eat one way and the rest of the family eats another, it’s often a recipe for failure. You may feel left out when everyone else’s plate looks different from yours. You may feel overwhelmed if you are the one making all of the meals. And you may feel tempted if you are keeping food in your home that doesn’t align with your goals. Bottom line, healthy eating should be a family affair. And if it is something you feel that strongly about for yourself, you should want your family to be a part of it as well.

Find an accountability partner.

Establishing and maintaining healthy eating habits is a lifestyle that not only benefits your family now, but also sets up each member for making informed choices on their own in the future. Live on your own or with a friend? Find yourself an accountability partner. Whether it is your roommate or someone you can simply check in with on the daily, having that support system makes a difference. Feel free to even use social media to your advantage. Start a Facebook group or an Instagram page as a space to share your journey with a community.

Listen to your body.

When it comes to wisdom, it is important to know the facts. But it is important to know your body as well. Each one of our bodies is so incredibly unique. And what “works” or what “feels good” for one person, may be different from the next. As you work to make healthier habits a lifestyle, listen to your body. How do you feel after eating a certain food? After consuming a certain amount? Make note of this. Track these cues your body is giving you over time. You will be amazed by how much your body wants to teach you. And after learning to listen to it, you won’t be able to ignore it any longer.

Seek to continue growing and learning.

Knowledge is power. Learning about nutrition will inspire you not only to eat better now, but also empower you to stick with it. While there is so much information out there about what is considered healthy, it is important to seek out wisdom from reliable sources. Speak with or read blogs by professionals on the topic or, better yet, dive in head first and take a course like Applied Nutrition offered as part of Concordia University, St. Paul’s online bachelor’s in exercise science degree. A course such as this can help you build an understanding of basic nutritional concepts and needs and help you feel more confident in the decisions you are making for yourself and your family.

Are you ready to finally make healthy eating habits stick for good? Take incremental steps, build a support system, and seek to learn about and listen to your body. And I promise that desire to “get there” will turn into a desire to “stay.”

Krista is an early childhood educator and nutrition blogger living in Minnesota. You can follower her on her blog or on Instagram @happyhealthycasa.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your use of these links is greatly appreciated because it allows me to keep the “lights on” and continue bringing you free content. Thank you so much for your support!

It’s not easy to eat healthily. I admit I’d much rather eat fruit snacks than real fruit, but I sure feel a lot better when I eat actual fruit. We’ve always eaten pretty healthy growing up with home-cooked meals every night and packed lunches for school. But we had our pantry packed with our share of junk food. It wasn’t until I moved out that I decided to build healthier eating habits.

Here are some suggestions for how to build healthier eating habits + a week 3 meal plan.

Don’t buy food if you don’t know or can’t pronounce the ingredients.

I don’t buy many convenience foods. If I do, I check the labels to make sure I know what all the ingredients are (something I learned from Simply Real Health ). If the junk isn’t in our pantry, we’re not tempted to eat it.

The same thing goes with ingredients for recipes. I try to use “real food” ingredients in all my recipes. But really, anything homemade is better for you.

The hardest thing for me to give up was coffee creamer, but I’ve found these Nutpod creamers that are pretty good. For my afternoon coffee, I blend it with grass-fed butter, refined coconut oil, and honey. (I use Amazon Subscribe & Save, included with Prime membership, for the products linked here.)

Encourage kids to eat healthier by having them help in the kitchen

Juliana and I have taken a lot of cooking classes together. Now she loves getting in the kitchen to help me cook and bake. This helps cultivate her habit of healthy eating because she wants to try everything she makes.

Getting in the kitchen with your kids can be tough, but it’s definitely worth it.

If you load up on healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, and nuts, you’re going to eat them.

When there’s nothing else to eat, that’s what you start snacking on. I’ve started piling fruit into a giant bowl near our table so that we actually eat it. If it’s in the fridge, sometimes we forget.

Stick to your (Costco) list.

This month, the Haagen-Daz ice cream bars were on sale at Costco. They are my weakness. I used to eat them every day when I was pregnant. I’d eat them every day now if I bought them.

The plan for Costco is to stick to the list. The only time we stray is if they have some new real food we want to try. Plus, everybody being on board with this food lifestyle makes it easier to stay strong.

(But seriously, I’d love just one Haagendaz bar. Please.)

Snacks we made this week:

Paleo Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread from Paleo Running Momma . This takes a lot of eggs, but it’s one of the better “bread” recipes I’ve found. I’m hoping to make a couple of other recipes soon to compare them.

The Perfect Gluten-Free Brownies from One Lovely Life . Beware –I can’t eat these at night because they keep me up. So we eat brownies as an after breakfast snack.

Week 3 Meal Plan for Healthier Eating

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinners

Chicken Pot Pie from Pioneer Woman . I substitute ingredients to make it Paleo.

Grilled or baked fish with veggies.

Sauce. I never feel right if I don’t have sauce in the freezer. It’s a family recipe.

Whole30 Zuppa Toscana from 40 Aprons. Seriously so good and easy to make.

For more suggested recipes check out:

How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

This blog post was written by guest contributor Krista Happ of Happy Healthy Casa.

We all want to be healthy, and we know that what we put into our bodies has a direct impact on our health. But why, then, is making healthy choices day-to-day so hard for so many of us? In a day and age where there are convenience foods and sugary snacks lurking in every corner, it can be hard to make healthy choices. Couple that with sneaky marketing tactics and even sneakier ingredients, and well, it becomes easy to see why so many of us “fall off the wagon.”

But take it from a girl who indulged in all the things for so long with little consideration for the impact they were having on her body: You can make a change and you can stick with it — no matter where you are starting from. Today, I am sharing three practical ways to help make healthy eating habits stick for good!

What Doesn’t Work

Before we chat about how to make your desired habits stick, let’s take a moment to highlight what doesn’t work (at least for most):

  • Dieting
  • Depriving yourself.
  • Trying to change too much at once.
  • Going at it alone.
  • Making uninformed choices based on what others deem to be “healthy.”
  • Lacking an understanding of your body’s unique needs.

Making healthy eating habits stick is about fostering a lifestyle conducive to doing so. Depriving yourself, overwhelming yourself, taking it on by yourself, or lacking an understanding of yourself can all contribute to this lifestyle feeling unattainable. These things can often perpetuate that food rollercoaster too many of us find ourselves on. That said, a healthy relationship with food is not only possible, but also sustainable. It just comes down to setting yourself up for success.

How to Make Healthy Eating Habits Stick

Take incremental steps and build upon them.

Many people don’t succeed at making their healthy habits stick because they try to change too much at once. While this may work (and may even be necessary) for some, the majority of us work better when we ease into new habits. Thus, instead of tossing out every item in your pantry, start thinking about how you could begin buying healthier replacements once items have been used. Or instead of vowing to eat salad for every meal here on out, think about how you could start adding a few greens to those meals you already make.

Get Started Today!

Build an understanding of basic nutritional concepts and needs with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science offering courses in Applied Nutrition.

It doesn’t have to be a sprint.

Remember, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s okay to put in the time for it to stand the test of time. If you have a goal you are hoping to achieve through your healthier habits, setting “micro goals” can be beneficial in making the journey more manageable. Micro goals are incremental milestones that lead to your larger goal. Not only do they help you make a plan for success, but they also give you opportunities to celebrate small wins along the way. If your goal is to cut out all refined sugars from your diet, then maybe you start with a micro goal of cutting out soda for a week. Once you have accomplished that, celebrate and then plot your next step as you continue to work toward your end goal.

Involve the whole family.

If you eat one way and the rest of the family eats another, it’s often a recipe for failure. You may feel left out when everyone else’s plate looks different from yours. You may feel overwhelmed if you are the one making all of the meals. And you may feel tempted if you are keeping food in your home that doesn’t align with your goals. Bottom line, healthy eating should be a family affair. And if it is something you feel that strongly about for yourself, you should want your family to be a part of it as well.

Find an accountability partner.

Establishing and maintaining healthy eating habits is a lifestyle that not only benefits your family now, but also sets up each member for making informed choices on their own in the future. Live on your own or with a friend? Find yourself an accountability partner. Whether it is your roommate or someone you can simply check in with on the daily, having that support system makes a difference. Feel free to even use social media to your advantage. Start a Facebook group or an Instagram page as a space to share your journey with a community.

Listen to your body.

When it comes to wisdom, it is important to know the facts. But it is important to know your body as well. Each one of our bodies is so incredibly unique. And what “works” or what “feels good” for one person, may be different from the next. As you work to make healthier habits a lifestyle, listen to your body. How do you feel after eating a certain food? After consuming a certain amount? Make note of this. Track these cues your body is giving you over time. You will be amazed by how much your body wants to teach you. And after learning to listen to it, you won’t be able to ignore it any longer.

Seek to continue growing and learning.

Knowledge is power. Learning about nutrition will inspire you not only to eat better now, but also empower you to stick with it. While there is so much information out there about what is considered healthy, it is important to seek out wisdom from reliable sources. Speak with or read blogs by professionals on the topic or, better yet, dive in head first and take a course like Applied Nutrition offered as part of Concordia University, St. Paul’s online bachelor’s in exercise science degree. A course such as this can help you build an understanding of basic nutritional concepts and needs and help you feel more confident in the decisions you are making for yourself and your family.

Are you ready to finally make healthy eating habits stick for good? Take incremental steps, build a support system, and seek to learn about and listen to your body. And I promise that desire to “get there” will turn into a desire to “stay.”

Krista is an early childhood educator and nutrition blogger living in Minnesota. You can follower her on her blog or on Instagram @happyhealthycasa.

Make Better Choices Easier

How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

We know that making healthy choices can help us feel better and live longer. Maybe you’ve already tried to eat better, get more exercise or sleep, quit smoking, or reduce stress. It’s not easy. But research shows how you can boost your ability to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s frustrating to experience setbacks when you’re trying to make healthy changes and reach a goal,” says NIH behavior change expert Dr. Susan Czajkowski. “The good news is that decades of research show that change is possible, and there are proven strategies you can use to set yourself up for success.”

Lots of things you do impact your health and quality of life, now and in the future. You can reduce your risk for the most common, costly, and preventable health problems—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity—by making healthy choices.

Know Your Habits

Regular things you do—from brushing your teeth to having a few drinks every night—can become habits. Repetitive behaviors that make you feel good can affect your brain in ways that create habits that may be hard to change. Habits often become automatic—they happen without much thought.

“The first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly,” explains Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College. “Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.”

Maybe you eat too much while watching TV or join a friend on smoke breaks even when you don’t want a cigarette. “You can develop ways to disrupt those patterns and create new ones,” Marsch says. For instance, eat meals with the TV off or join friends for healthy activities, like walk breaks.

Make a Plan

Make a plan that includes small, reasonable goals and specific actions you’ll take to move toward them.

“If you walk by the vending machine at work and buy junk food every afternoon, try walking a different way to eliminate that decision and bring healthy snacks from home,” Czajkowski says. “Whenever possible, make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Consider what you think you’ll need to be successful. How can you change things around you to support your goals? You might need to stock up on healthy foods, remove temptations, or find a special spot to relax.

Get friends and loved ones involved. Research shows that people’s health behaviors tend to mirror those of their family and friends. Invite them to join you, support you, and help you stay on track.

It’s also important to plan for obstacles. Think about what might derail your best efforts to live healthier. How can you still make healthy choices during unexpected situations, in stressful times, or when tempted by old habits?

Stay on Track

Doing positive things for yourself can feel exciting and rewarding. But there will also be times when you wonder if you can stick with it.

“Identify negative thoughts and turn them into realistic, productive ones,” Marsch advises.

Keeping a record can help. You can use a paper journal, computer program, or mobile app to note things like your diet, exercise, stress levels, or sleep patterns. A study of people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least a year found that they often tracked their progress closely.

“Even when you think you’re about to ‘fall off the wagon,’ hold on,” Czajkowski says. “Continue to track your behavior. Sometimes when you feel like you’re failing, you can learn the most.”

Marsch and others are working on digital technologies, like mobile apps, that could support you in a moment of weakness. Her team is also using technology to learn more about how to measure and increase the ability to monitor and control our behavior.

“The more you practice self-control, the better you become at it,” says Dr. Leonard Epstein, who studies behavior change and decision-making at the University at Buffalo. “You develop the capacity to act and react another way.”

Think About the Future

Epstein has found that some people have a harder time than others resisting their impulses. He calls this “delay discounting,” where you discount, or undervalue, the larger benefits of waiting in favor of smaller immediate rewards. This can lead to things like overeating, substance abuse, drinking or shopping too much, or risky sexual behavior.

“You can learn to postpone immediate gratification through episodic future thinking, or vividly imagining future positive experiences or rewards,” he explains. “It’s a great way to strengthen your ability to make decisions that are better for you in the long run.”

Epstein is now studying how to use this technique to help people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes prevent the disease.

Focusing on how a change might heal your body and enhance your life can help. When you stop smoking, your risk of a heart attack drops within 24 hours. Reducing stress can lead to better relationships. Even small improvements in your nutrition and physical activity can reduce your health risks and lengthen your life.

Be Patient

Sometimes when you’re trying to adopt healthier habits, other health issues can get in the way.

“When you’re really struggling with these behaviors, ask yourself if more is going on,” Czajkowski says. “For example, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can be tied to unhealthy behaviors.”

A health professional can work with you to address any underlying issues to make change feel easier and to help you be more successful.

You’re never too out of shape, too overweight, or too old to make healthy changes. Try different strategies until you find what works best for you.

“Things may not go as planned, and that’s okay,” Czajkowski says. “Change is a process. What’s most important is to keep moving forward.”

How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

We all have that vision in our head of who we’d love to be. Fit, active, free from pain and chronic health conditions, surrounded by supportive and loving people, and engaged in rewarding and purposeful work. But getting from here to there is tough, and you may feel like you’ve tried just about everything to get there with no results.

You’re not alone. Americans spend almost $10 billion per year on self-improvement books and products. But even with all the money we’re throwing down and the effort we’re spending, too many people don’t see much improvement in their health and wellbeing.

What is going on?

There are so many reasons why your success may be hampered. Perhaps you’re tackling too much at once, being overly hard on yourself, or just not ready or sure of how to take that first step. You may have given up on your health goals too soon or simply not had a well-developed plan of how to commit to healthy habits.

Getting healthy takes planning, effort and, above all, patience.

Luckily, there is a way to cut through the noise and create a plan that works. Here are 7 strategies to make those healthy habits stick.

1. Start with cognitive goals

When people set out to improve their health, they often think about action. Eat better, meditate, run more. But the truth is that getting healthy starts in your head.

If you don’t feel ready to take an action step forward, don’t worry. Just focus on “cognitive goals”, where you gather information, think about your options, consider the benefits of change versus staying the same, and map out how you might best integrate new healthy behaviors in your life. In due time, you’ll feel ready to take an action step forward, and the cognitive work you’ve done will pay off.

2. Shift your focus to the long-term

Short-term solutions, like seven-day cleanses or 21-day fitness crazes, are designed to jumpstart healthy living and produce rapid results. But they’re often not feasible for the long-term.

The key to getting healthy isn’t having a taste of your ideal self for a few weeks then reverting back to old ways. It’s about creating sustainable change. Consider behaviors you can adopt that you’ll be more likely to stick with over time. This way, your efforts won’t be lost, and you’ll feel the true benefits of change.

3. Realize that small steps make for big victories

Contrary to everything you might hear in flashy advertisements, slow and steady wins the race. Small, incremental steps are the best way to move towards your goals with success.

If you’re trying to get more physically active, start with a 10-minute walk around your block a few times a week. If you want to reduce stress, trying meditating for 5 minutes once a week. You may think this sounds too easy, but that’s the point. Over time, you can increase your efforts and enjoy the benefit of these healthy activities without feeling that the journey was such a struggle.

4. Pick actions that matter

Every effort to get healthy is meaningful, but some actions help pave the way to better health more directly. Take the example of parking farther away from the grocery store. Your intent may be to increase the amount you walk per day, but at some point, the benefit plateaus (as you can only park so far away and shop so often).

An alternative strategy is to identify a long-term goal that you want to work toward, such as spending 1 hour at the gym 5 times a week. Then develop steps that you can build upon to reach that goal. A first step may be to join the gym, then add on working out at the gym for 10 minutes once a week, then 15 minutes twice a week, and so on. These first action steps aren’t just throw-aways. They are building blocks to get you closer to your larger goal.

5. Don’t rely on your motivation

Motivation is essential when trying to build healthy habits, but we also know that it can wax and wane. You can’t always depend on it because some of that initial motivation will wear off and you’ll need other systems in place to keep you on track.

The key to weathering the storm of low motivation is to anticipate and set up strategies in advance to help you cope. Post reminders, ask for social support and create backup plans. And, of course, remind yourself that motivation can plummet and that you just need to roll with it and keep going. The motivation will return, especially as you start to feel the benefits of your new behaviors.

6. Be accountable to yourself

People work harder when they feel accountable to someone. Whether it’s a coach, mentor, friend, family member, or work buddy, having others to report to can provide that necessary push you need to get stuff done. But ultimately you are responsible for your behavior.

There is no more powerful accountability partner than yourself. Rather than relying only on others, set up a system whereby you regularly track your own progress. Ask yourself what helped you succeed versus what might have caused you to get off track. Reward yourself when things go well but don’t beat yourself up when they don’t. As time goes on, you’ll notice patterns of what hinders your progress and what needs to be in place for you to make healthy choices. While it’s helpful to have accountability partners, recognize that it is you who has the most knowledge and experience to set yourself up for success.

7. Find the joy

A healthy life shouldn’t feel like so much damned work. If it does, then you’ll likely not stick with your new behaviors for too long.

Rather than taking some generic route to health, figure out what you can do to support a healthy life that also fits your personality, and empowers and excites you. When you design your life around things you love to do – activities that are uplifting and fun – it will stop requiring so much effort. Once you find the joy in living healthy, that’s when the lifestyle will stick.

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Why You’ve Got to Listen to This Episode.

In today’s episode, I’m talking with author and research scientist, Dr. Wendy Wood. Since she’s listed in the top 1% of scientists worldwide, I figured she would be the expert we need to help us start building habits that stick in 2021!

We’re talking about why you actually don’t need more will power, how to build habits that stick when your schedule is unpredictable, and why finding a community that shares your goals is so crucial.

Moments You Don’t Want to Miss

    [2:47] Why persisting with a habit- and not just starting it- is so gosh darn tricky [9:25] Do you know you have habits you’re not even aware of? [17:00] This is the difference between building good habits and breaking bad ones [32:01] This is why repetition is key to building habits that stick. [44:33] Chelsea’s Top Takeaways

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How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

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Key Takeaways to Help You Build Habits That Stick

As always, we’ve rounded up our top three takeaways to summarize what we believe are the core points to remember from Dr. Wendy.

1 -Make Your Desired Behaviors as Simple as Possible​

Practically speaking, this is me putting my bike shoes next to the bike. This is laying out our workout clothes the night before. This is making healthy eating the obvious choice by preparing the snacks that are easy to reach for.

The easier we can make our habits, the more successful we’ll be at them. This could apply to your money as well. Automating good behaviors transfers into savings transfers to pay off debt that are automated. It could mean putting your budget notebook or your money planner next to the coffee pot. That way, every morning, it is the first thing that you see when you grab your coffee. And you can sit down and spend five minutes on your money before you even start the day.

The flip side of that, of course is to make bad habits harder. Find ways to put obstacles in the way if you have trouble with impulse spending. Remove credit card information from any online shopping accounts. Put that piece of sticky note over your card. Then you have to mentally do something before you can swipe that card. Those are the things that help you change behavior for the long term.

2- Context – Not Just the Behavior – Matters Greatly in Habit Formation

It’s not just about doing the same thing. It’s about doing the same thing in the same way. Wendy gave us some good examples. I drink from this cup when I’m talking about money. I wear these clothes when I work out. I light this candle when I’m writing out my weekly goals.

The more we can control and repeat the behavior as a whole, not the individual action, but also the experience and the routine, the more likely it is to develop in our brain as a true habit. That means we do something automatically without having to have willpower and conscious thought to do it.

3 – Your Community and Environment Can Help You Build Healthy Habits

Are you surrounded by people that are going to celebrate your good behaviors? Or are you surrounded by people that will try to encourage you to step away from your good habits or question their value?

Sometimes with habits and those rewards being in the moment, it’s hard to pick a good habit reward. I was so excited when Wendy said just having the ability to post in the Motivated Mama Society group, (which pssst! is open for registration right now) is a rush of dopamine.

So find an environment, a community, or a network that supports you. Ask friends to be your accountability buddies. Look for areas and communities where you can hang out with people who are doing the work that you’re doing – like the Motivated Mama Society. The more you surround yourself with things that make your good habits easier, the easier it’s going to be to keep those habits.

This post is a sponsored collaboration with Concordia University, St. Paul; however, all opinions are my own.

We all want to be healthy, and we know that what we put into our bodies has a direct impact on our health. But why, then, is making healthy choices day-to-day so hard for so many of us? In a day and age where there are convenience foods and sugary snacks lurking in every corner, it can be hard to make healthy choices. Couple that with sneaky marketing tactics and and even sneakier ingredients, and well, it becomes easy to see why so many of us “fall off the wagon.”

But take it from a girl who indulged in all the “things” for so long with little consideration for the impact they were having on her body: You can make a change. And you can stick with it – no matter where you are starting from. Today, I am sharing three practical ways to help make healthy eating habits stick for good!

How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

What doesn’t work

Before we chat about how to make your desired habits stick, let’s take a moment to highlight what doesn’t work (at least for most):

  • Dieting.
  • Depriving yourself.
  • Trying to change too much at once.
  • Going at it alone.
  • Making uninformed choices based on what others deem to be “healthy.”
  • Lacking an understanding of your body’s unique needs.

Making healthy eating habits stick is about fostering a LIFESTYLE conducive to doing so. Depriving yourself, overwhelming yourself, taking it on by yourself, or lacking an understanding of yourself can all contribute to this lifestyle feeling unattainable. These things can often perpetuate that food rollercoaster all too many of us find ourselves on. That said, a healthy relationship with food is not only possible, but also sustainable. It just comes down to setting yourself up for success.

How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

How to Make Healthy Eating Habits Stick

Take incremental steps and build upon them.

Many people don’t succeed at making their healthy habits stick because they try to change too much at once. While this may work (and may even be necessary) for some, the majority of us work better when we ease into new habits. Thus, instead of tossing out every item in your pantry, start thinking about how you could begin buying healthier replacements once items have been used. Or instead of vowing to eat salad for every meal here on out, think about how you could start adding a few greens to those meals you already make.

It doesn’t have to be a sprint.

Remember, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s okay to put in the time for it to stand the test of time. If you have a goal you are hoping to achieve through your healthier habits, setting “micro goals” can be beneficial in making the journey more manageable. Micro goals are incremental milestones that lead to your larger goal. Not only do they help you make a plan for success, but they also give you opportunities to celebrate small wins along the way. If your goal is to cut out all refined sugars from your diet, then maybe you start with a micro goal of cutting out soda for a week. Once you have accomplished that, celebrate, and then plot your next step as you continue to work toward your end goal.

Involve the whole family.

If you eat one way and the rest of the family eats another, it’s often a recipe for failure. You may feel left out, when everyone else’s plate looks different from yours. You may feel overwhelmed, if you are the one making all of the meals. And you may feel tempted, if you are keeping food in your home that doesn’t align with your goals. Bottom line, healthy eating should be a family affair. And if it is something you feel that strongly about for yourself, you should want your family to be a part of it as well.

Find an accountability partner.

Establishing and maintaining healthy eating habits is a lifestyle that not only benefits your family now, but also sets up each member for making informed choices on their own in the future.Live on your own or with a friend? Find yourself an accountability partner. Whether it is your roommate or someone you can simply check in with on the daily, having that support system makes a difference. Feel free to use social media to your advantage. Start a Facebook group or an Instagram page as a space to share your journey with a community.

How to build healthy eating habits and make them stick

Listen to your Body.

When it comes to wisdom, it is important to know the facts. But it is important to know your body as well. Each one of our bodies is so incredibly unique. And what “works” or what “feels good” for one person, may be different from the next. As you work to make healthier habits a lifestyle, listen to your body. How do you feel after eating a certain food? After consuming a certain amount? Make note of this. Track these cues your body is giving you over time. You will be amazed by how much your body wants to teach you. And after learning to listen to it, you won’t be able to ignore it any longer.

Seek to continue growing and learning.

Knowledge is power. Learning about nutrition will inspire you not only to eat better now, but also empower you to stick with it. While there is so much information out there about what is considered healthy, it is important to seek out wisdom from reliable sources. Speak with or read blogs by professionals on the topic or, better yet, dive in head first and take a course like Applied Nutrition offered as part of Concordia University, St. Paul’s online bachelor’s in exercise science degree. A course such as this can help you build an understanding of basic nutritional concepts and needs and help you feel more confident in the decisions you are making for yourself and your family.

Are you ready to finally make healthy eating habits stick for good? Take incremental steps, build a support system and seek to learn about and listen to your body. And I promise that desire to “get there” will turn into a desire to “stay.”

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your use of these links is greatly appreciated because it allows me to keep the “lights on” and continue bringing you free content. Thank you so much for your support!

It’s not easy to eat healthily. I admit I’d much rather eat fruit snacks than real fruit, but I sure feel a lot better when I eat actual fruit. We’ve always eaten pretty healthy growing up with home-cooked meals every night and packed lunches for school. But we had our pantry packed with our share of junk food. It wasn’t until I moved out that I decided to build healthier eating habits.

Here are some suggestions for how to build healthier eating habits + a week 3 meal plan.

Don’t buy food if you don’t know or can’t pronounce the ingredients.

I don’t buy many convenience foods. If I do, I check the labels to make sure I know what all the ingredients are (something I learned from Simply Real Health ). If the junk isn’t in our pantry, we’re not tempted to eat it.

The same thing goes with ingredients for recipes. I try to use “real food” ingredients in all my recipes. But really, anything homemade is better for you.

The hardest thing for me to give up was coffee creamer, but I’ve found these Nutpod creamers that are pretty good. For my afternoon coffee, I blend it with grass-fed butter, refined coconut oil, and honey. (I use Amazon Subscribe & Save, included with Prime membership, for the products linked here.)

Encourage kids to eat healthier by having them help in the kitchen

Juliana and I have taken a lot of cooking classes together. Now she loves getting in the kitchen to help me cook and bake. This helps cultivate her habit of healthy eating because she wants to try everything she makes.

Getting in the kitchen with your kids can be tough, but it’s definitely worth it.

If you load up on healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, and nuts, you’re going to eat them.

When there’s nothing else to eat, that’s what you start snacking on. I’ve started piling fruit into a giant bowl near our table so that we actually eat it. If it’s in the fridge, sometimes we forget.

Stick to your (Costco) list.

This month, the Haagen-Daz ice cream bars were on sale at Costco. They are my weakness. I used to eat them every day when I was pregnant. I’d eat them every day now if I bought them.

The plan for Costco is to stick to the list. The only time we stray is if they have some new real food we want to try. Plus, everybody being on board with this food lifestyle makes it easier to stay strong.

(But seriously, I’d love just one Haagendaz bar. Please.)

Snacks we made this week:

Paleo Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread from Paleo Running Momma . This takes a lot of eggs, but it’s one of the better “bread” recipes I’ve found. I’m hoping to make a couple of other recipes soon to compare them.

The Perfect Gluten-Free Brownies from One Lovely Life . Beware –I can’t eat these at night because they keep me up. So we eat brownies as an after breakfast snack.

Week 3 Meal Plan for Healthier Eating

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinners

Chicken Pot Pie from Pioneer Woman . I substitute ingredients to make it Paleo.

Grilled or baked fish with veggies.

Sauce. I never feel right if I don’t have sauce in the freezer. It’s a family recipe.

Whole30 Zuppa Toscana from 40 Aprons. Seriously so good and easy to make.

For more suggested recipes check out: