Staying consistent with healthy eating habits is not always easy – you may lack motivation some days, miss your window of time to meal prep, or don’t have a good system yet in place.
Not to worry – there are several habits of healthy eating you can employ to get yourself on autopilot once and for all. Because how good would it feel not to have to remind yourself to meal prep yet again or grocery shop every Sunday?
It is entirely possible to set the stage for healthy eating habits and not forget them – and it starts with a bit of planning, consistency, and a lot of simplicity. Here are 10 expert-approved ways to do it.
How to Create Healthy Eating Habits on Autopilot
Do you often find yourself being inconsistent with meal planning, or telling yourself you’ll try to get to it when you can?
When it comes to establishing habits of healthy eating, your calendar needs to become your BFF. When starting any new eating plan, it’s essential to jot it in your calendar to make it real and set it as a priority.
This helps you create a routine that you can repeat over and over, and helps ensure you don’t forget your plan for the week.
You can use your calendar to determine when you will plan your meals, grocery shop, and cook. It’s often easiest to choose the same day and time every week for each task, such as setting every Sunday afternoon aside for meal planning.
Plug the day and time into your calendar so you block it off and know it will happen. In doing this you’ll be much less likely to brush it off or tell yourself you’ll “try” to get to meal planning later.
My most successful clients pencil in meal planning and grocery shopping time into their calendars to make it a priority. Taking this one initial action step really sets you on the right path!
Whether perceived or real, there are always barriers that will try to prevent you from eating healthy. Some common barriers may include:
- Time constraints
- Unsupportive people that may question your goals and habits
- Stress or emotional eating throwing you off course
- The fear that eating healthy is too daunting or expensive (I promise you it isn’t!)
- Frustration from past experiences if you didn’t see the results you wanted
These barriers can get in the way of your best intentions to eat well, but becoming aware of them is the first crucial step.
A big reason many of my clients struggled in the past is that they tried to change their eating plans without determining how they will deal with barriers that come their way.
Then when they came up (because life happens) it was easy to lose the willpower and fall off course with their habits.
Once you know the barriers are there and bring them to the surface, you can begin to identify how you will push past them.
When it comes to sketching a plan to overcome your barriers to eating healthy, it’s essential to write it down. Be as specific as possible and set aside 30 minutes to make a list of all of the things that have gotten in your way.
If you’re not sure what your barriers are, it may help to track your eating habits for a week to get a better picture of what’s happening. This can provide helpful insight into what’s getting in your way.
Once you have determined your barriers, determine a plan to overcome them. This may take a little trial and error or help from a professional but is possible.
Here is one example…let’s say you’ve determined you’re a stress eater, and every night after dinner you mindlessly snack on chips for comfort and stress relief. In order to overcome this barrier, you’ll need to find better ways to handle the stress such as a daily meditation or yoga practice.
If you still find yourself stress eating or craving food at night, you can replace your snacking habit with another one that will still relieve your stress – such as calling a good friend or listening to your favorite inspirational podcast.
If you also struggle with overeating often, trying a natural appetite suppressant like Leanbean can help make these urges easier to control.
To make healthy eating habits stick, they have to become routine. It takes some time to build a consistent routine that works for you, but once you do, it will eventually become mindless!
Since meal planning is a big part of healthy eating, here are 3 simple steps to creating a routine by doing this:
Establish a routine for choosing your meals, making your grocery list, and planning your meals ahead of time. You can plan up to a week in advance, or if this feels overwhelming, just focus on one or two days at a time.
Personally, I prefer to plan just a day or two ahead of time, which allows me more flexibility in changing my plan according to my schedule as well. There is no right or wrong when it comes to creating a meal-planning routine – it’s all about what works for you and your lifestyle.
Remember to keep things as simple as possible, and choose recipes that you have the time to make and prepare.
Don’t feel pressured to create an elaborate meal planning routine with millions of fancy Tupperware. What matters is what is realistic in your own household (not in the social media world).
Once you set your meal plan and choose your recipes, now it’s time to plan your grocery shopping. Many people find it easier to pick the same day every week to grocery shop, so it more quickly becomes routine and you anticipate it being part of your weekly schedule.
Simply plug your shopping day into your calendar, and unless something major comes up, set clear boundaries and commit to this date and time.
Bust out that calendar again and determine your meal prep schedule for the week. These are the days when you will prepare and cook the meals you planned out, to make sure you actually eat the healthy food you intended to.
Remember to keep things as simple as possible with this step too. Utilize pre-chopped produce if you don’t have the time or desire to chop it yourself. If doing this makes your life easier and gets you to eat more veggies, then it’s completely worth it.
You can have the best intentions to eat healthily, but if your environment around you doesn’t support this goal, it will feel a lot harder. My most successful clients set up their environment in the best way possible.
This means your kitchen and entire home should be set up in a way where eating healthy is the easy choice. You can do this by keeping nutritious food like fruits, veggies, and lean proteins front and center in your fridge and pantry, and high-calorie processed foods or sweets out of sight.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun snacks or treats in the house – but it helps to push them a little further back in your pantry so they don’t become a regular staple. Then you won’t have to rely so much on willpower and eating more healthily will become the default.
It’s helpful to evaluate every few months how often you’re veering off and if you’re sticking to your healthy eating plan. If you’re not, you can find ways to modify and simplify.
Keeping things simple makes it way easier to stick to a routine, as we always lean towards the path of least resistance.
If your plan is no longer working for you and your life, that isn’t a sign you should throw in the towel. This just means you hit a fork in the road and it’s time to pivot and adjust.
If you’re struggling to keep up with cooking at home, take a closer look at how often you’re cooking. Are you trying to cook every day, or are making everything from scratch? Or, maybe you’re choosing recipes that require using a thousand pots and pans.
It’s completely okay to say what you’re doing is too much and modify it so it’s something you can stick to.
I often see my clients veering off their healthy eating routines on weekends. Of course, your schedule may be different, but you should still follow a similar routine to help keep you on track.
When you completely veer off on weekends, you are probably left feeling like you’re restarting again every Monday morning. This feels difficult and exhausting and makes it take longer to build the habits on autopilot.
Pro tip: It’s much easier to stay on track on weekends when you’re not being so strict with your diet during the week. Allow yourself a mid-week indulgence, and don’t let it build until the weekend once it eventually explodes.
Try your best to stick to a similar eating and exercise routine on weekends, even if the timing is not always the same. At the very least, having the same breakfast and snacks that work for you during the week will keep you in a routine.
If you drink alcohol, limiting this on the weekends will also keep you in check and feeling good come Monday again.
Keep visual reminders of your health goals in your kitchen, on your phone, or in your home gym if you have one. This keeps your goals top of mind, continues to make them a priority, and reminds you of what you’re working towards.
These visual reminders can be inspirational quotes or questions you ask yourself such as “remember what you’re working towards,” “are my habits aligning with my goals?” You can also display a visual interpretation that depicts how you will feel when you meet your healthy nutrition habits goals.
10. Get a little extra help
Sometimes you just need a little extra support to make eating healthy easier.
Leanbean is designed to help curb your appetite and optimize energy, making it easier to stick to your healthy eating goals.
The secret to building healthy eating habits is making it a lifestyle choice and a priority. You have to make it work for you or else it will feel much harder to stick to.
We often make eating healthy a lot harder than it has to be, or overcomplicate it so it feels unachievable. When it comes down to it, it’s all about getting back to the basics of good nutrition – good, old-fashioned whole foods that you actually enjoy.
With a little patience and practice, you can get your habits of healthy eating on autopilot so you stop starting over and over again. It can take time to get into a sustainable routine, but it does get easier the more you do it.
In addition to getting your healthy eating habits on autopilot, Leanbean can help further support your healthy eating goals by making it easier to eat less by reducing food cravings.
Disclaimer: The information on the Leanbean blog does not constitute medical advice and should not be used as such. If you would like to learn more about your dietary requirements and related aspects of your health, speak with a registered medical professional.