Health Advice



Environmental Nutrition: The habit of healthy eating

UHN staff, Environmental Nutrition on

Published in Health & Fitness

Breaking bad habits

Recognizing bad eating habits is the first step in addressing them. Keep a journal of what and when you eat and pay attention to specific cues. Do you eat when you are bored, alone or at the mall with friends? Then identify the eating habits you want to change.

According to Wendy Wood, those who had most success in conquering bad habits changed or eliminated the habit cue or context. For example, if cookies are your downfall, don’t keep them in the house. If you regularly stop for fast food, think about changing your route home so you don’t pass the restaurant. And, don’t worry if you slip up once in a while — adding new habits takes time.

Bottom line

“People try to change behavior by getting motivated (how healthy and fit I’ll be!) and exerting willpower. But these don’t last very long — they are effortful, require thought, and are not much fun. Controlling desires is also counterproductive,” says Wood.


“Instead, people need to understand that repeated actions are very much dependent on our immediate environments. People would do better to focus on making a behavior easy to repeat — I buy already-chopped veg so that it’s easy to add to meals when I am cooking. It’s now my habit. People also repeat actions when they are enjoyable. If you hate broccoli, you won’t form a broccoli eating habit.” Instead, pick what you like and stick with that, then you can explore more later.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384.

©2022 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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