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Here are some effective principles to follow when you’re trying to change your bad eating habits.
Habits can be hard to change because, well, they are habits. Each year, many of us look at changing some of our bad habits, and the best thing I can do to help my clients is to try to help them prioritize—and work on the easiest things first.
Whether you’re looking to change a number of bad habits or only one or two, there are some basic principles to consider when it comes to navigating your way through the behavior change process. So, here are some tips for smoother sailing:
Be specific. “I want to get physically fit” or “I will eat better” are too vague. Instead, set a goal of “I will walk 30 minutes a day” or “I will pack my own lunch twice a week.”
Once you tackle those and feel successful, you’ll feel empowered to take on more challenges. As each small change becomes permanent, they’ll start to add up, which can also add up to big health benefits.
Try to just get through a weekend without overdoing it, or take things a day at a time—or even a meal at a time if you have to.
If you’ve been trying to boost your physical activity, keep a log of your minutes or miles. If you’re trying to cut back on sweets, set a limit for the week and keep track. And for each small success, give yourself a pat on the back.
If parties are your undoing, plan to have a snack before you go, and decide ahead of time how many drinks you’ll have. If you know you’ll hit the snooze button instead of exercising in the morning, put the alarm clock across the room—right next to your workout clothes.
When you get the urge to eat something you shouldn’t, tell yourself that you’ll wait 15 minutes before you give in. Chances are, you’ll get busy doing something else and forget about it.
If the vending machine at work tempts you every time you walk by, find another route so you’ll avoid it, or don’t carry any money with you. To stop nighttime noshing, head into the bathroom to brush your teeth instead of into the kitchen to raid the refrigerator.
Susan is the Sr. Director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife, where she is responsible for the development of nutrition education and training materials, and is one of the primary authors of the Herbalife-sponsored blog, www.discovergoodnutrition.com. She is a Registered Dietitian and holds two Board Certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and a Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management. Susan is also a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Susan graduated with distinction in biology from the University of Colorado, and received her master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University. She then completed her dietetic internship at the University of Kansas. Susan has taught extensively and developed educational programs targeted to individuals, groups and industry in her areas of expertise, including health promotion, weight management and sports nutrition.
Prior to her role at Herbalife, she was the assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, and has held appointments as adjunct professor in nutrition at Pepperdine University and as lecturer in nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Susan was a consultant to the (then) Los Angeles Raiders for six seasons, and was a contributing columnist for the Los Angeles Times Health Section for two years. She is a co-author of 23 research papers, 14 book chapters, and was a co-author of two books for the public: “What Color is Your Diet?” and “The L.A. Shape Diet” by Dr. David Heber, published by Harper Collins in 2001 and 2004, respectively.