Eating habits are formed very early in life, so what can be done to change them as adults? One reason changing habits is difficult is that food can be very emotional. It is deemed often as a reward, love and can take the place of connections like bonding with another person. Try to take that away, it can feel to the brain like missing a friend. Think of these things as coming from your animal-like brain, the brain that wants to survive at any cost. When you plan out a meal or nutrition plan, you are using your rational, calm brain. That part of the brain tends to go “bye-bye” when we get stressed or tired, so those animal like habits come back. Here are five things you can do to help change eating habits as an adult because we can’t Benjamin Button ourselves back to being one.
Put away your large plates. Seriously, store them somewhere out of the kitchen so you are forced to use smaller plates for your meals. You will develop the habit of eating less by default. You’ll feel your plate is covered with food even though it’s a smaller portion.
Put out a fruit bowl and put away all other food on the counter. We’ve talked about creating a healthy environment and your kitchen can work for you or against you. At Google, when they moved their fruit bowl to the front of the cafeteria, employees' fruit consumption increased by two thirds in just one month. The author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, lists this as one of his laws of creating a good habit- make it obvious. Or the opposite, to break a bad habit, make it invisible aka hide or remove the unhealthy stuff.
Don’t swear off treats. If we’ve learned anything from diets, it’s that once you swear it off, you might crave it more. If this has happened to you in the past, instead try a small treat most days that is about 150 calories like a little dark chocolate, ½ cup ice cream or 2 small cookies.
Move more. Fidget it you have to! Researchers at the University of Missouri found that simply fidgeting can reduce the arterial damage that happens from spending too much time sitting on your booty aka sitting disease. In the study, healthy men and women were asked to intermittently tap one foot, while keeping the other one still. After three hours, they compared the blood flow in each leg and found that the fidgeting one showed improved vascular function, while the stationary leg was worse off. Actual exercise is still better (so be an adult and do that too!).
Last is to eat with the lights on. Silly but if you make it a habit, it can help change your eating habits. Researchers found people who eat in well-lit spaces consume about 39% fewer calories than those who ate in dim lighting.
The cardinal rule as always is be consistent. Pick a few of these or all and consistently do them. The best thing about these options is they really won’t cost you anything but the return could be huge. If you are already doing these, great!
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