How To Change Eating Habits (Permanently)
Do you want to build habits that last?
Then don’t skip this step. (The funny thing is — everyone does.)
But before we dive in, let me say. This isn’t the same ol’ habit-building advice you’ve heard before. Today, we’re talking about the most overlooked step in building habits that stick.
Here’s the question we’re going to answer…
“How do I change my eating habits – permanently.”
It seems simple enough, right? Building a habit is just a matter of time plus repetition.
So do one thing enough times and eventually, it’ll become automatic.
Let’s use an example.
Say you want to start drinking a glass of water before every meal.
How would you go about doing that?
Well, you’d just drink a glass before you eat. And you’d do that day after day – meal after meal until it sticks.
Remember: Time + Repetition = Habit
Since we’re on the topic…
QUESTION: Do you know how long it will take to build the habit of drinking water before a meal?
— This will come in handy on trivia night.
ANSWER: Professor Wendy Wood, at the University of Southern California, is arguably THE habit expert. And she says it takes about 60 days to build the habit of drinking water.
So to boil it all down to the simplest answer.
If you drink water before every meal for 60 days (or so)…Boom! You’ve got a habit.
But is it really that easy?
If it were, don’t you think you’d see more people drinking from their hydro flasks?
(BTW, what IS the deal with the hydro flask craze?)
We all know it’s not that easy. There’s more to it.
So what’s missing?
If we consult one of the many books on building habits (and there are SO MANY), you’ll read advice that goes something like this…
Tip #1. Schedule an alarm to go off before your usual meal times.
Have you tried to start a habit, but got caught up in the day and simply forgot?
(Yeah, I know. Me too.)
So if you want to build a habit you have to keep it front and center. Make it obvious and bring it to your attention.
Tip #2. Cut the number of steps it takes to pour a glass of water.
Instead of storing your glass on the top shelf — where it’s a pain to reach. (I’m not guilty of that. Cough, cough.)
Wouldn’t it be easier to move it to the bottom shelf?
Why not move them out of the cabinet all together?
Moving your glass to the kitchen counter means you’ll 1.) see it (making it a visible cue) and 2.) reduce the friction and make the process easier. #DoubleWin
Tip #3. Reward yourself when you’re finished.
If you want to look forward to your new habit, use a reward. Sounds great to me. Who wouldn’t love a reward?
Down a glass of water? Check. Time for YouTube!
But will these tips help you build “permanent” habits?
They’re all fantastic. They’re simple, easy, and hit the major points in the Cue + Routine + Reward habit loop.
But again, if it were only that easy…
See. There are two problems:
Problem No. 1 – Knowing “what” to do isn’t enough.
We all know information doesn’t equal action.
— This is a quick aside, but hold on for one second while I Google how many copies the most popular habit book sold last year. Okay, here we go…the book I’m looking at sold 1.1 million copies and was a New York Times bestseller for 12 months.
So a million people bought this book!
But how many of those do you think actually built a new, healthy habit?
I’m guessing very few.
So if knowing “what” to do isn’t the answer, the answer must be action, right?
Action is required, but then we run into…
Problem No. 2 – It’s not enough to DO the habit.
— Adam. Really? Isn’t that what building a habit is all about? You have to do them.
I agree. Yes. To build a habit, you have to do it.
But consider this…
Why do so many people who have been on a diet for 3, 6, or 12 months quit?
I hear it all the time. People say, “Adam, I couldn’t take it anymore. And the worst part is – if I made it a year and quit, I’ll never be able to do this forever.”
Why do so many smokers — who haven’t picked up a cigarette in years — start again?
The nicotine left their system long ago. That craving is gone.
Can you call a habit “permanent” if it doesn’t last forever?
Think about it like this:
- The smoker DIDN’T start back because they’re still addicted to nicotine. And,
- The dieter DIDN’T give up because they’re still craving sugar.
The reason their new habits didn’t last is: the reasons WHY they smoked and WHY they ate didn’t go away.
New habits won’t stick IF you have a reason NOT to do them.
The only way to make a habit last is to remove the reason why you want to stop.
Change your mindset, change your habits.
Now let me explain what I mean by changing your mindset.
Think about a habit you have — one you’ve had for years and years. One you’d say is permanent.
Here’s one of mine: I brush my teeth the second I wake up. Not in 30 minutes or an hour. The moment my feet hit the floor, I’m on my way to brush.
Why do I do this?
– Is it because it’s easy?
Waiting for the water to heat up…trying not to wake up the whole house. No. I wouldn’t say it’s easy.
– Is it because it’s obvious?
I have to get up, walk into another room — with the door shut and lights off. No, I wouldn’t classify it as obvious either.
— Come to think about it, there’s a lot of friction standing between me and brushing.
– Is it because I focus on all the health benefits?
I mean, I love hearing, “Good news, Adam. No cavities.”
That’s always a sigh of relief. BUT, it’s not what drives me.
So why is this a habit that sticks?
I do it because I enjoy it. Or better said — I do it because I don’t like the alternative.
My mindset is — I WILL brush because I like how I feel when I’m finished, and I hate how I feel when I don’t.
I feel the same way about all my permanent habits.
- I eat healthy – because I like how it makes me feel and I don’t like the alternative.
- I work out – because I like how it makes me feel and I don’t like the alternative.
- I spend time with my family – because I like how it makes me feel and I don’t like the alternative.
When you change your mindset around the habit you’re trying to build it will last. And I’ll go as far as to say, it will be easy.
- Think about a habit you want to start.
- What would your mindset have to be to make it permanent?
At MyBodyTutor, we don’t just focus on food and exercise. We work on changing your Mindset, Psychology, and Habits. That’s one reason we’re different than the billion other companies out there.
That’s why I know this will work for you. And that’s why we have the success stories we have.
Are you ready to change your mindset?