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Blog > Building Better Habits for Diet, Nutrition, and Your Overall Health

Building Better Habits for Diet, Nutrition, and Your Overall Health

Unhealthy eating is often a habit and often can be tracked to an underlying cause or trigger.

When you’re exceptionally busy, it can be all too easy to let certain areas of your life fall by the wayside. In these moments, you may prioritize work and professional obligations over healthy eating habits

Think about it. You’re engrossed in a project and so focused on what you’re working on that you skip lunch entirely, without even thinking about it. On your way home from the office, you find yourself so hungry that you swing into the nearest fast-food drive-thru for an extra-large fry you scarf down before heading to a networking event.

The next day, you arrive home on time but spend so much time answering emails and helping the kids with homework you barely even have time to make dinner. Instead, you go with the easiest, fastest option available to you— which is, more often than not, some sodium-laden frozen meal you can just pop in the oven or, even easier, take out. You can’t remember the last time you ate a fresh vegetable, or fruit.

However, regardless of how your schedule looks these days, it’s still important to prioritize eating healthily. After all, it’s your nutrition and diet habits that fuel your productivity which impacts your energy levels and present and future mental and physical health

In this article, you’ll gain insights into the potential causes behind these habits (yes, the root cause may go beyond just being busy!) and a few tips to help you reach your nutrition goals. By adopting these tips, you’ll be one step closer to changing your unhealthy eating habits and eating foods that propel you toward a healthier lifestyle.

The Science of Habits

All habits serve a purpose. In many instances, habits result from our brain’s attempts to automate problem-solving behaviors. For example, if someone develops a habit of drinking too much when they’re stressed, their brain may discover that alcohol temporarily removes the stress and it may, as a result, drive them to drinking behavior whenever they encounter stress. While eliminating stress is a good thing, excessive alcohol consumption is a bad thing.

It’s the same with habits formed around unhealthy eating. As the Centers for Disease Control reports, common triggers for unhealthy eating can range from being bored to simply having no idea of what you want to make for dinner that night.

If you’re bored, your brain may drive you to eat something that will briefly satisfy or entertain you, which will lead you to reach for the easiest snack (whether you’re hungry or not hungry).

Meanwhile, if you’re uncertain of what you want to eat for dinner due to decision overload from the workday, your brain may drive you to make no decision at all by letting the kids order whatever takeout they want. In this instance, your brain may feel momentarily relieved, but the rest of your body may not react well to a high-sugar meal.

Look at your worst and most unhealthy eating habits and attempt to uncover what drives or triggers those habits. Do you truly lack time to cook, or do you feel bored? Are you truly hungry or do you feel guilty if you don’t eat everything on your plate (plus more)? Are you truly eating in moderation, or do you feel left out of the group if you don’t indulge in the daily donuts in the break room, while trading chitchat with your colleagues?

Try to identify the triggers of your eating habits and then address those issues before trying to remove any and all unhealthy food from your life.

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Creating Good Diet Habits

After you address the underlying causes fueling your bad habit formation, it’s time to start creating good eating habits. Here are a few ways you can begin making eating healthier, easier.

Make Slow Changes

You don’t need to change your entire diet all at once. Maybe reduce your total number of take-out meals by one per week or add in one healthy breakfast per week in place of the breakfast pastry you ordinarily eat during you commute.

Practice Crowding Out

Rather than eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet, add in enough highly nutritious foods that there’s no room for other foods. You can apply this tip to your overall diet, as well as your home and grocery cart.

Don’t Label Foods as “Good” or “Bad”

Sure, some foods might not be healthy, but that doesn’t make them terrible. Practice eating in moderation and allow yourself rewards and indulgences when appropriate.

Try Mindful Eating

The more mindful you are about your meal preparation, grocery shopping, meal planning, and dining out, the more you’ll make conscious decisions about what goes into your body and how it will or will not serve you. Don’t just go through the motions when it comes to your diet.

Set Yourself Up to Make Healthier Food Choices

If you can identify the situational obstacles that might cause you to stumble as you reach your nutrition goals —if, for example, you know that you’re more likely to eat ice cream for dinner during a stressful week when you’ve stocked your freezer with several pints of mint-chocolate chip — then do your best to avoid those pitfalls. Don’t buy the ice cream if you’re anticipating a stressful work week. Set yourself up for success, not failure.

Use a Habit Tracker

If you know you perform best with accountability and outside motivation, enlist a habit tracker to support you as you work toward your nutrition goals. Whether you’re aiming for weight loss, or you just want to eat more protein, a habit tracker (check out our Arootah Habit Accountability Tracker) can help you monitor your progress and witness your growth in real-time.

The Bottom Line

Unhealthy eating habits often emerge from underlying causes or triggers. Identify those triggers, remove them, and start building better nutrition habits, so you can achieve your goals and improve your overall health.

Get started on your journey towards better habits by downloading the Arootah Habit Accountability Tracker today.

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.

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