Thursday, October 13, 2011


People often ask me, “How do I make healthy changes in my diet?” Well, easier said than done, right?

Our daily lives are filled with habits. Your eating and exercise habits determine, to a large degree, how healthy you are and how you perform on any given day. Habits are formed by repetition and some studies suggest you need to do a new habit at least 21 times before the habit becomes automatic.

Changing habits is not that complicated, but the secret is in the simplicity. Focus on changing one habit at a time and write down your plan and what you are going to do to make that happen. Start small. Set your habit change goal and then think through the action steps needed to help you reach it. For instance, if your new habit is to eat more fruit during the off season, then break down the steps you are going to take to achieve that. The devil is in the details. The action steps you might decide on to be successful at eating more fruit are:
1) Buy it at the store;
2) Identify when you are going to eat it; and
3) Decide on how much fruit you are going to aim for in a day and be specific in the amount or daily servings. (Like no less than 2 or 3 1 cup servings each day) And then determine a time frame to practice the new habit and repeat it daily to make it automatic.

Be realistic when setting out to change a habit by considering what is important to you and what is going to help you reach, for instance, your nutrition goals in the off season. Know the benefits you will be gaining from making the change—it helps stay motivated and focused on the prize!

It’s also helpful to think through the barriers you face in making this change or maybe what has stopped you in the past from making the change stick. Decide how you are going to work through these obstacles before you encounter them.

Stay positive and ask for help in forming your new habit. We all need support when doing things differently----maybe a buddy system to hold you accountable. Be patient with the process and you will be successful in making habit changes that last.

In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Is there a new eating habit or nutrition goal that you are working on right now?

Kim Larson, RD, CD
Total Health
Sports Nutrition Consultant

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