Why healthy eating isn’t a matter of willpower but a matter of habit

The new year rolls by and we are always telling ourselves that “this year we will have more
willpower and be more disciplined to be better, to work harder and to eat healthy”.
However, most people eventually feel frustrated and demotivated when they realize that
using willpower to change old eating habits, just doesn’t work. We keep making the mistake
of thinking that having strong willpower is the key to changing our habits instead of actually
breaking it down and focusing on developing the habit itself.


What is a habit?
A habit is a behavior embedded into our subconscious created to make our lives easier and
to prevent the need to think before doing daily tasks. [1] We are so used to basic habits for
instance we may wake up, shower, brush our teeth, drink coffee, take the same route to
work etc. and these are all habits that have been developed over time which are now part
of our normal routine for the day. This tells us that, if we are interested in creating new
habits, we need to focus on gradually changing our mind-set while actively focusing on
repetition to be able to then create a habit to last a lifetime.


How do you make healthy eating a habit?
For instance, if you would like to add fruits into your diet or even focus on drinking more
water for the day you will need to think of ways to realistically add this into your day. Just
telling yourself you need more discipline and willpower to complete these tasks won’t make
a difference, you may end up forgetting to do this during the day and end up feeling
disappointed. [1] To help you get started on goals like this, you could set alarms on your
phone every 1-2 hours to help you remember to drink water and you could also set two
alarms for the day or add it into your calendar/journal to consume a fruit in between meals
daily. The key is repetition. Therefore, gradually introducing these steps and reminders into
your day, and focusing on repetition to complete these tasks daily, will eventually help
convert these tasks into a long- lasting habits.


Start small, focus on 1-2 tasks or goals you would like to develop each month and repeat the
task daily to help embed these healthy habits into your lifestyle. [2] Healthy eating doesn’t
have to be a burden, it is all about approaching it from the right angle that works for your
health and lifestyle, if not it will just end up being a short team FAD diet.

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