With lockdown measures easing, there’s no better time than now to review which of your habits are serving you well, and which aren’t. I recently wrote an article for the Evening Standard on the habits we, as a nation, have been developing during lockdown. On the whole we have been eating more veg and cooking from scratch more, but we have also been drinking more alcohol and baking more cakes.
I spend a lot of time with my clients working on cultivating healthy habits. Getting to the point at which you naturally make healthier choices is a big step towards maintaining a weight you’re happy at long term. But breaking bad habits is not always easy, so what can you do to stack the odds of success in your favour?
BREAKING BAD HABITS: STRATEGIES
One strategy I have found to be particularly effective is to simply replace an unhealthy habit with a healthier one.
For example, I have to confess that during lockdown my occasional Diet Coke gradually increased to a daily habit and it’s something I recognised I wanted to nip in the bud. Coincidentally, a couple of days later a healthy drinks brand send me a box of their sparkling kefir water which made for a perfect swap.
I have a number of clients who feel like they want to end their dinner with something sweet. While in the past they might have eaten chocolate or ice cream, we have worked on finding healthier alternatives. Fresh berries with coconut yoghurt or a Pukka Cacao Maca Latte are two popular swaps.
So what habit are you aware of that you’d like to break? And what could you swap it with?
The first step in addressing anything is being aware of the issue, so take a little time to ensure you’re really clear on the habit you wish to break and why breaking it is important to you.
FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE
Once you have identified it, you can then find an alternative. Sometimes a like for like swap can work well. For example, swapping an alcoholic drink with an alcohol free alternative. With other habits, it can be more helpful to replace it with something completely different. If you’re in the habit of snacking out of boredom rather than hunger, instead of simply finding a healthier snack, find another activity to occupy your mind when bored. I have clients who will go for a short walk or do a 10-minute deep breathing exercise or meditation when they feel the desire to eat through boredom or stress.
Breaking habits and forming new ones can take time and commitment, there’re no denying that. But in my experience, shifting from “I won’t do this anymore” to “Instead of doing X, I’ll do Y instead” can make breaking habits a lot less painful!