For many people eating habits is a major sticking point when it comes to achieving a weight loss goal or a fitness goal (having a good-looking body).
Going to the gym and performing some decent workouts is not “that hard”. It doesn’t concern too many hours after all.
But food is around us 24/7 and we eat several times every day.
If you have bad eating habits it will take a tremendous amount of willpower to restrict yourself and that will make your life miserable.
Additionally, should you succeed in losing all your unwanted body fat you will probably regain it if you didn’t also change your eating habits along the way.
This happened to me in the past.
Develop Good Habits
When talking about having success with anything in life it is essential to understand
that your habits and habitual actions or thoughts will determine whether you can achieve and sustain it or not.
In this post, I am covering how to change your eating habits to lose weight, but the principles are universal and can be used to change any kind of habit.
Your Mind Activities Explained Simple
To better understand the nature of habits and how to change them, this basic description of the activities of your mind is helpful.
Your mind and all its activities can be divided into two different parts.
The conscious mind. The part that thinks, reasons, imagines etc. This is where the free will reside.
The subconscious mind. The part which operates without you consciously knowing. E.g. you are most likely not consciously aware of your bodily functions which are keeping you alive like breathing, heartbeat and blood circulation, digestion etc. (at least not all the time).
This is probably far from being anything scientific, but it is a useful description to better understand the activities of the mind.
Understanding Habit Creation
Habits are formed in the subconscious mind, but they are created from the repeated actions of or impressions on the conscious mind. This includes internal thoughts and external influences.
Simply stated habits are created by repetition.
When you think about it, habits are what we do all the time without really “thinking about it”.
This includes everything from “relatively simple” things like what/when/where you eat to serious financial things like how much money you are spending in relation to your income, and if you are putting aside money for savings.
You can view the creation of habits as a very powerful but also a necessary function of your mind.
The number of things you can consciously pay attention to are very limited…
By creating habitual movements, thought or behavioral patterns that can work on “autopilot”, it essentially leaves your conscious mind free to deal with the more important things that do not fall within the scope of “normal and easy tasks that you have repeated many times”.
Think of actions like driving a car or riding a bike. It takes an incredible amount of conscious focus to learn these things.
But not long after you know how to do it, you can put your focus on other things while still driving.
I have seen many different estimations made on how many of our actions are habitual. The highest one estimated an incredible 95 %.
The Four Steps To Changing Habits
It can be a daunting task to change a habit. The difficulty depends on how ingrained your habit is or you could say to what extent it is associated with a reward.
The most important to understand about changing a habit is that is not about fighting it or consciously restricting yourself, but it is instead about replacing it.
So rather than putting all your willpower and focus into consciously fighting the habit you want to change, you should instead replace the old habit with a new and better one.
The four steps you need to take to replace an old habit are simple and are the following:
First, you have to be fully aware of what you want to change and understand when you are likely to perform the unwanted habit. This might seem obvious, but especially understanding when you are likely to perform the unwanted habit is a great insight!
Detect whenever you are about to perform the bad habit and use willpower to resist it!
Imagine and visualize what you want to do instead
Perform it! (the new habit)
By simply taking a different action instead of fighting the habitual one you slowly overwrite the old habit and form a new one in its place.
The key to this is repetition and that is also how your old habit was formed in the first place.
How To Change Your Bad Eating Habits
Using these four steps to change your bad eating habits could look something like this.
First things first, you want to put your focus on what aspect of your eating habits you want to change and use your imagination on what you want to do instead.
That could be eating meals consisting of mostly whole foods with a balanced macronutrient profile instead of eating junk food, or it could be using your total calorie intake as the guiding principle at the buffet instead of an economic one.
So, putting the four steps into action…
Know what you want to change, e.g. you want a balanced diet or moderate your calorie intake.
Detect whenever your actions are about to lead you astray and resist that action or behavior.
Imagine yourself doing the new and better thing.
Imagining yourself having new and better eating habits already and visualize it.
Perhaps you think it sounds a little bit strange that you need to imagine and visualize yourself performing the new habit.
However, both your imagination and visualization are very powerful for impressing upon your subconscious mind. Leveraging that could speed of the process.
Your Ideal Eating Habits
In my experience, the ideal eating habits to adopt are those that fit your lifestyle and enable you to achieve your weight loss goal or fitness goal.
Your eating habits can be engineered to achieve what you want, but that doesn’t mean you need to change your habits into only eating chicken breast, tuna, and broccoli.
That would for most people be unnecessarily strict and it is by the way not necessary.
I would argue that your eating habits should allow flexibility and the possibility to enjoy your favorite foods.
An example of this is intermittent fasting which I cover here.
Eating Habits Explained On Video
I condensed this article into a short video and posted it to youtube.
You can check out here below if you want.
Let me know what you think of the thumbnail :p
Complete Guide to Changing Habits and Self-Image
If you want to know more about changing habits, I got a great free resource for you.
It a free pdf that I have written on setting up nutrition for fat loss and muscle growth.
It also covers changing habits and self-image in-depth.
I have created it to be a blueprint for you to achieve success with your weight loss and muscle building goals.
Get it automatically as a welcome bonus when you sign up for my email list.