How to make good habits last longer than a month?

Check out 10 ways!

As a dietitian, I know perfectly well that the diet which will give you a healthy and long life rests on foundations that are quite simple and self-evident to most people. Unfortunately, even simple rules are difficult to apply, because they affect your everyday life. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, the source of the difficulty is not weakness of character, but rather poor management of good habits.

Habits related to diet and physical activity are but a collection of skills: the ability to cook with little fat, the knack for preparing vegetables so as to make them taste good, planning skills…). When you set yourself the goal of eating healthy food this month, you expect yourself to make many changes at the same time – often with little tolerance for mistakes and failures.

Here are ten tips that will help you work systematically on your eating habits:

1. Be practical and specific

Make a list of all the elements of your lifestyle that you think should change. Be specific and always start with the most important issues. For example, if you never have regular meals and mostly eat out, the insufficient amount of water you drink or the scarcity of green leafy vegetables in your diet are not your greatest problems.

2. Choose 2-3 specific goals

Pick at most one demanding and difficult goal (for example, eating three main meals a day, preparing your lunch before you leave for work, etc.) and one or two easier goals (for example, adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet).

3. Have a look at the calendar

Consider whether the coming month will be a good time to make the changes you have decided you need. An upcoming renovation of your apartment or a regularly recurring avalanche of responsibilities at work may not be the fertile soil in which to cultivate the freshly sown seeds of your good habits.

4. Adopt simple rules

To be satisfied with your work, you need to be able to assess your progress. Decide on a milestone for the consolidation of your new habit you would consider satisfactory. If you want to exercise regularly, start with two workouts a week; if you would like to eat more vegetables, add at least two handfuls to each of the three main meals.

5. Make sure you can do it

Your goal should be ambitious, but above all realistic. If you have a gut feeling that you will not be able to achieve it, reconsider the goal and lower the bar.

6. Monitor your progress

This is the key element, because it will allow you to see clearly how you are doing. You can use symbols or colours to mark days in the calendar when you managed to achieve your goal, or you can download an app that will help you monitor your habits.

7. Don't be afraid to learn from mistakes

Don't be upset when you fail, but try to learn a lesson instead. In practice, acquiring healthy habits requires learning from mistakes.

8. Review your progress

If a month later you still have not achieved your goal, consider why not. “Because I'm a loser” is not an answer. Perhaps the goal was too ambitious? Revise it and make it more realistic.

9. Set your goals for the next month

The beauty and the curse of dieting is that there will always be something to work on.

10. Appreciate even small progress

You should be forgiving and reward yourself even for small steps in the right direction. Ultimately, it is these small but wise victories that produce lasting and spectacular results.

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