Building healthy habits and routines help you sustain a healthy, fit life. Unfortunately, unhealthy decisions also generally come with a habit, a routine, or a particular occurrence. While it may seem automatic to crave the fast food drive-thru line, science suggests that it may have more to do with your individual food triggers. This is actually good news because once you know your triggers, you can begin to prepare to conquer those urges and stay true to your healthy intentions.
- You’re busy. There are some days, weeks, and even months when your schedule seems overwhelming. Convenient, cheap, fast junk food may seem like a simple solution to feeding yourself or your family when you’re too busy to cook. If this is a common occurrence in your life, accepting that a busy schedule is part of life and committing to healthier options is the first step. Once you realize this trigger towards a downward spiral, scheduling a time to pick up groceries, preparing meals in advance, and having healthy snacks available, can help you break your bad habit. Most grocery stores now have convenient pick up options and healthy, prepared salads available to grab and go.
- Relationships. Whether a fun night out with friends lends itself towards cheating on your healthy lifestyle, or a difficult relationship sparks tension and a desire for comfort foods, both healthy and unhealthy relationships tend to be food triggers for many people. The key to overcoming this habit is to recognize your patterns in advance and prepare healthy alternatives. Planning activity before your night out or suggesting healthier fare for dinner may be a welcome change for your friends. Likewise, when you’re dealing with a difficult or unhealthy relationship, remember that healthier food choices allow for better sleep, lower stress, and higher rates of self esteem. Having healthy alternatives on hand can help you curb your desire for junk food.
- Reaching your goal. Achieving a fitness or weight milestone may seem like an odd trigger, but it’s more common than you might think. Seeing success at the finish line or on the scale tends to make us believe that we have reached the destination and can now begin to indulge in less healthy meals. The reality, though, is that gaining weight back or losing fitness is far easier than achieving the results that you worked for. Instead of diving into unhealthy food choices, plan a healthier reward or set a new goal. The key to sustained success is to both continue to reward yourself and to continue to challenge yourself. Pat yourself on the back and then get back to your healthy meal routine that helped you achieve your success!
Do you have a food trigger? How do you work to recognize and overcome what makes you slip?