How to Swap Out Bad Habits for Healthy Ones

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD 

Whether it’s the urge to eat a chocolate bar every afternoon or skip the gym to watch a movie marathon instead, everyone has their own unhealthy habits.  

When it comes to weight loss, bad habits may prevent success. If that’s the case for you, you are probably looking for ways to swap out some of your bad habits for healthier ones.  

Here are four actionable steps you can take to create healthier habits and make them stick! 

1) Identify the “why” behind your bad habit.  

Every bad habit has an underlying reason. Let’s use the urge to eat sweets or snack foods during the afternoon as an example. For many people who engage in this bad habit, fatigue is the reason why they reach for a piece of candy or soda a couple hours after lunch.  

Low energy levels coupled with an environment that provides easy access to unhealthy snacks, such as an office, makes it incredibly easy to perpetuate this bad habit.  

When you are trying to break an unhealthy habit, start by analyzing the reasons behind it. 

 2) Make a list of reasons for you to change the habit.  

Once you have identified the reasons for your bad habit, think about why you want to end it. For example, you might want to stop eating sweets during your afternoon slump so that you can achieve your weight loss goals.  

Take this a step further and remind yourself why you want to lose weight. Is it to get in shape and run your first race? Or maybe you want to fit into your favorite dress again? You might even want to lose weight to prevent a heart attack or diabetes.  

Think about your greater goals as you work to change a bad habit.   

 3) Figure out what you can do instead.  

Understanding the circumstances that enable an unhealthy habit and the reasons why you want to end the habit can help you figure out what you can do instead.  

 For example, if you know that having low energy levels is the reason why you grab a candy bar for your afternoon meeting, think of healthier foods that provide you with the same energy boost. A handful of nuts and a piece of fruit, plain Greek yogurt with berries, or carrot sticks with hummus, can be energizing afternoon snacks.  

If unhealthy snacks are easily accessible in your office or work environment, make healthy options more visible. Store them at your desk or in an area away from the office snack drawer.   

 4) Set yourself up for success and understand that behavior change is difficult.  

Making behavior changes takes time, and forming a healthy habit may take longer than you think. When you set up a plan to end a bad habit, remember to set achievable goals and give yourself time to see results.  

For instance, you can start by swapping your afternoon candy bar for a healthier snack three days a week before trying to do this every day. If you are struggling to accomplish your goals, consider asking a friend or coworker to make the change with you.  

Remember to be kind to yourself and know that slip-ups happen! If you lose track of your goals for a day or two, you can always start with a clean slate the next day.  

 Note from Healthy For Life Meals: Swapping bad eating habits for good ones can be difficult. At HFLM, we make it easier for you to reach your goals with freshly made meals that you don’t need to plan or prepare. Get started today!

Stef Keegan