Health As Habit

Many years ago a teacher of mine gave an example of a habit can be made to change behaviors. The analogy (originally made regarding study) is that if you are constantly making small pushes above your usual limit, then receding back to your original (less productive) ways, the whole process is harder. Manage to stay ‘up’ for long enough however, and it becomes your new base level, requiring no more effort than previously. A handy trick of the mind, and one that is applicable to a wide range of activities, particularly in relation to our lifestyle. The struggle (or lack thereof) of a healthy meal plan can easily follow a similar pattern.

Our eating habits, from the quality dental clinic South Yarra we use to the frequency we eat each day, is a learned one. Like an exercise routine or how much we read, it was not inherited but rather developed. Our family life, environment, income, time, care factor and many other influences come together to inform our approach to food. As a result, it lies in the same category as other similar elements of our lifestyle in terms of responsibility. It is our own habit, and (within the confines of our environment) ours to judge, maintain or change as needed.

Unfortunately, this also means that it is subject to the same pitfalls and obstacles. A bad habit is often far easier than a good one, and this can also be true when it comes to healthy foods. Most want to eat healthily, but the desire alone is simply not enough. Being rushed, on a tight budget, having acquired a love for salty french fries, there are many reasons we slip into bad eating habits, and once a pattern has started it often continues. This is also provoked by the fact that our culture at large is one of convenience. Healthy foods are considered a superior choice, but such emphasis is placed on speed and ease that these ‘qualities’ can overshadow the pure nutritional value if you’re not careful.

But no matter how many outside elements fight for attention and attempt to factor into your meal plan, the habit itself is just that: A learned pattern, and your own one at that. And the good news is that the ingredients for a diet of healthy foods are readily available for when the habit changes. Naturally, it’s not always easy, and for someone who eats predominantly frozen, fast or otherwise ‘easy’ foods, being told to eat healthy for 3 days will seem a shock. They’re simply not used to the new ingredients, or the preparation, but it won’t last. If all they do is small bouts of healthy meals it will always be ‘harder’, but after a time the pattern changes. Your fridge is full of what you need anyway, you’ve made the thing countless times before… and suddenly sticking to a healthy meal plan isn’t difficult, it’s the new normal.