Three Tips for Healthy Habit Change
I have been thinking a lot about habits recently and how to change unwanted ones. Those who know me well often tell me that they think I eat perfectly and that I do not have any eating problems. In a sense that is true because I do eat a very healthy diet. However, I have learned that very few ways of eating will last for a lifetime. The diet should adapt as a person’s age and health changes.
As we get older it is inevitable that our health changes. For example, most people produce fewer digestive enzymes as they age. Therefore, they may need to change their diet or add supplemental digestive enzymes. Our metabolism also slows down as we age. Therefore, we need fewer calories each year, especially after the age of fifty.
I have had new digestive challenges over the past few months. I learned that I have a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). It is probably the result of an intestinal bug that I contracted a few months ago. It is being treated with herbal antibiotics and I am feeling much better. In addition to the herbals, I also should temporarily change my diet to further help eliminate the SIBO. That has been more challenging for me.
This is where habit change comes in. The suggested protocol is to eliminate all added sugar for a few months. Many of you also want to reduce or eliminate sugar, so let me suggest a few ways to make sugar elimination, or any habit change, a bit easier.
1. Focus on One Habit to Change
The first tip is to focus on only one habit change at a time. I am calling this strategy “Fix Your Biggest Miss”. I got the name of this from the legendary golf teacher Hank Haney. He is quite well known in golf particularly because he was Tiger Woods’ coach from 2004-2010. If you try to do multiple things at once, chances are you will not do any of them well. You can read a bit more about this strategy on my Instagram post and in my May article in Bella Magazine.
2. Strategy of Convenience
A second way to change a habit is to use the strategy of convenience. My husband also wants to reduce his sugar intake, so he has asked me to not buy him cookies at the grocery store. If you do not have the sugary junk foods in the house, then you will eat less of them. As you eat less your desire for them will also be reduced. If there are healthy foods you want to eat more of, make sure to have those readily available. I make a large salad and homemade dressing about once a week and store it in the refrigerator. This makes my healthy lunch very easy to prepare each day. Make it easy to eat healthy and hard to eat unhealthy.
3. Strategy of Monitoring
A third way to change a habit is by monitoring. Studies have shown that people lose more weight on diets when they record what they eat. Write down every time that you complete a specific habit you want to do more regularly. I have a goal of exercising six days per week for 2019. I have been monitoring this with my Fitbit app. This has helped me be highly successful with exercising on an almost daily basis. I wrote about this on Instagram recently.
Books on Habit Change
There are a number of books on the subject of habit change that have been very helpful to me. Check one or more of these out if you also have habits you would like to change.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhig
This book gives a great explanation of the habit cycle (cue-habit-reward). A thorough understanding of this can help you break down your unwanted habits and change to more wanted habits.
Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
This book looks at how people change and gives tons of suggestions for helping you to change your habits. This is one of my favorite books on habits and I refer to her suggestions often in my writing and work with nutrition clients.
The Four Tendenciesby Gretchen Rubin
In Better than BeforeRubin identified four personality types and how they handle expectations of them. This book is a detailed look at those types. Knowledge of your can inform how you make changes in your life.
The Next Right Thing by Emily Freeman
This newly published book looks at how we make decisions. It is a beautiful book with a Christian view. One of Freeman’s taglines for her writing is to “create space for your soul to breathe”. I need this and I suspect most readers do as well. Although this is not a book about habit change per se, it can help you figure out what habits you want to change and what to focus on first.