Break Old Habits & Create New Habits - Weight management 1/3
Written by Clara Wangsahardja, Provisional Accredited Practising Dietitian
Is one of your this year’s resolutions to go on a diet? And last year's? And the year before?
Before we dig deeper into fad diets and top diet tips in the next blog posts, can I ask - do you know what ‘diet’ actually means?
In my opinion, the word ‘diet’ has been abused and perceived as a short-term behaviour change to achieve a goal(s). Its true meaning in ancient Greek is ‘a mode of living’ which refers to the food and drink that a person habitually consumes. In other words, diet should be a lifestyle rather than a temporary commitment!
Recent evidence has shown that almost half of our daily activities are automated and habitual, including our eating and drinking habits. Most of them are triggered by consistent cues, e.g. time of day, who we are with, and size of plate, which in turn encourage the habitual action leading to a reward.
CUE → ACTION → REWARD
How do I incorporate this into my eating? Well, it’s not gonna be an easy and quick fix, but it’s worth it. Here are my ABC tips:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE the cue
We can’t deal with the issue unless we acknowledge the root cause, i.e. the cue. For example, you might get home from work and find yourself looking for chips and chocolates in the kitchen. Or you might head to KFC every Tuesday night because they’ve got cheap deals even when you don’t really feel like chicken, or you've already got food at home.
Cues are mostly associated with time and place. The next time you do something, try acknowledging the triggers of your actions. ;)
2. BREAK old habits AND CREATE new habits
As Dr Gina Cleo said, habits form in a web. If we stop the trigger of one habit, it will break that particular habit as well as break a sequence of subsequent habitual actions. It’s like a domino effect - pretty fascinating, isn’t it?
But remember: when you put a 'no' to something, you have to replace it with a 'yes', Otherwise, it’s harder to maintain the new habit.
For example, the next time you arrive home, why not try going to your bathroom and taking a shower instead of the kitchen?
Or the next time you want to grab those chocolates, why not finish up the water bottle next to it?
3. CONTINUE new habits
Research suggests that it takes between 18 - 254 days to make or break habits, with an average of 66 days. Instead of focusing on counting and marking the days, focus on the ‘why’ behind breaking and creating habits and on consistency.
Also, start small. Ask yourself, ‘What can I do right now that I can maintain for the next 12 weeks?’
When you’re in the middle of forming new habits and are tempted to go back to your old habits, don’t give up! It takes a while for our bodies to get used to it, so keep moving forward! :)
I’m gonna end with a quote by Gillian Anderson “Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears.”