Let’s be real for a second: living according to your values isn’t always easy. Often what it entails is changing some pretty well established habits. And despite many of the articles we’ve read, what we’ve actually discovered is that we all find different things will (or won’t) work in the long term. So instead of sharing overly generic advice, we’re sharing the tried and tested tactics that have worked for different personalities in our community (and how to find out what will actually work best for you). Pick what resonates with you. Ready?
Here’s how to change your eating habits for good, and more broadly, how to make good habits stick.
Pick a motivator that you actually care about
When our Sydney chapter leader Emma Godden led us onto this, it was a revelation. Essentially, you need to know your tendencies, and use them to your advantage. Knowing your natural tendencies also means you can look out for pitfalls of how your tendency can lead you into areas where you are not most happy/productive. Not sure what really motivates you? Take Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz to see whether you’ll be more successful sticking to your goals by setting them internally, or telling others about them.
Start with (or integrate) things you already enjoy
For some reason often we think that changing a habit has to be punishing. Well, we’re calling BS on that, because the habit changes that we’ve successfully kept are the ones that we find the most rewarding! Even if the habit is something like “eat more vegetables…which I hate” – start with the one or two which you actually like, and explore different ways of preparing those veggies. Or add small amounts of some of your favourite foods that will make something you don’t naturally like a little more bearable.
Make it social, and involve your mates
Again, this is about making the new habit more rewarding, rather than punishing. If your mates aren’t into trying new things as you are, start small. Check out our advice on how to change behaviour (without coming across as the worst). Here are 4 simple ways we got our friends on board about food waste, for example.
Create effective reminders
Your brain hasn’t formed this new habit yet, so help it along by setting up effective reminders. And no, we’re not just asking Siri (or Google) to remind you to remind you, or those annoying notifications on Google Calendar (although some people do find them useful!).
What makes a reminder effective? First, where possible, make the reminders at the point where you’ll need the reminder. So, for example, if you want to remember to eat more plant proteins, and you happen to use a shopping list, attach the reminder to your list. Second, attach your reminder to something you already do daily without fail, like (hopefully?!) brushing your teeth. This post details a bit more how to do that.
Focus, start small, celebrate
Pick one new thing to master a month rather than overwhelming yourself with multiple changes. That will also give you a chance to try different tactics and rewards to make your new habit stick. Often we’ve found the biggest reason we don’t follow through is that we underestimate what it really takes to change a habit! Starting small also means you can celebrate victories or the big picture of why you’re changing a habit more often, which again helps us stick to whatever path we’ve chosen. If you start to struggle, you can also stick up a photo or image that reminds you of that why that started everything.
Image credit: Zo Zhou