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You might be surprised to hear that nearly half of the so-called ‘decisions’ we make each day are not actually decisions, they’re habits. For example, you don’t actively make the decision to brush your teeth each day; you just do it without giving it much thought (hopefully).
The same can be said for what you eat. Reaching for a biscuit with your cuppa or reaching for a chocolate bar when you’re feeling a little bit down in the dumps, might not be an active choice but instead a habit that has been formed over a long period of time.
Habits don’t always have to be a negative thing. In fact, with a bit of time, we can develop healthy eating habits that can help us achieve our health and fitness goals and create a more positive relationship with food.
Here are 5 eating habits you need to start practising.
Plan, plan, plan!
Here at Gymshark Central, we talk a lot about meal prepping and forward planning to help you make smart and healthy food choices throughout the week, and you better believe we’re not going to be stopping any time soon! After a long day at work, it can be tempting to reach for the most convenient thing which, let’s be honest, is usually take-out or a microwave meal. However, if you have pre-planned a healthier alternative, then you are a lot more likely to stick to it as you do not have to make any food-related choices when you’re knackered and starving!
It can take a little bit of practise, and at first might seem like a lot of unnecessary effort but trust us when we say it is worth it. You might even find it saves you some money – win, win.
The first step to developing healthy habits and ditching unhealthy ones is being aware of what your habits and triggers are. When you get in from work after a bad day do you always order take-out? If your favourite character dies in the latest episode of your favourite series, do you reach for a tub of ice-cream?
Being aware of what your current habits are will allow you to address them and be more mindful about your choices. It might be tough to break your habit cycle at first, and it might feel like you’re having to force yourself to resist slipping into old habits. However, be patient and stick with it. Over time, you will be able to create healthier, more mindful eating habits.
Ditch the ‘all or nothing’ mindset
If you decide to have a piece of cake or a pizza, that does not mean that the whole day (or even week) is a write-off. Developing healthy eating habits means ditching the ‘all or nothing’ mindset and realising that some days you’re going to go out for a meal with your mates or have a slice of cake at your local coffee shop. That doesn’t mean you have failed or have to wait until Monday to pick up your healthy eating habits again – it simply means you enjoyed a slice of cake!
Positive habits are all about balance and realising that perfection does not exist. Being more mindful about this and actively telling yourself that you have not ‘failed’ will help you to avoid binge eating and create more sustainable eating habits.
Stay off technology during meal times
Eating alone and spending time on your phone or working during meal times has been linked with eating less nutritious meals. It is therefore important, in order to eat more mindfully, to make meals a time where you stop with the hustle and bustle of the day and instead just sit and enjoy your food.
If at all possible, eating with friends and family and engaging in conversation is also really beneficial, not only for our physical but also out mental health. Studies have not only shown that making meal time a more social experience helps to encourage healthier food choices, but it also has been linked with better relationships and academic performance.
Allow yourself to enjoy foods you love
Eating food that you enjoy is a crucial habit that will make sure you stay mentally as well as physically healthy. Attaching words such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to foods is a habit that most of us have. However, this is definitely a habit we could all do without.
Rather than attaching a moral value to certain foods, it is more beneficial to approach all foods with moderation to help stop those inevitable cravings.
Here at Gymshark, we know it takes about 66 days to build a habit, so get started today! You don’t have to do it ‘perfectly’. In fact, when it comes to nutrition, there is no such thing as perfect! We’re all different and some days are going to be better than others. Be patient, consistent and kind to yourself – you’ve got this.