Some Habits are Good When They Lead to Diet Success


What is habit and why is it so important to your dieting success? Habits are behaviors or actions that are automatic. They have been learned over time due to frequent repetitions. Some habits are good such as setting the alarm clock or saying ‘thank you’. Other habits are bad. Bad habits often include our eating habits and lead to dieting disasters.

You may not remember the first time you brushed your teeth. You have been doing it for so long, in the same way, and around the same time that it is automatic. This makes it a great example of a good habit. You go through these motions without even thinking about them. You rinse your toothbrush, you open the tooth paste, put toothpaste on the brush, brush your teeth, fill a cup with water and rinse your mouth, clean your toothbrush, and dry your mouth. Whew! When you think about it, there seems like there is a lot of steps to complete such a simple action.

Habits Form Early

Your eating habits began to form in your childhood. You may form good or bad habits based on when and what you eat, where you eat, and why you eat.

If you eat when you are bored, you have formed a bad eating habit. Many people eat while reading a book, watching TV, or when they become anxious. Some people even eat when they are happy. Do you automatically reach for a candy bar when you get a frustrating e-mail at work? All of these are bad eating habits you have formed. Most likely, they have their roots in your childhood.

Habits Are Hard to Change

Any habit is hard to change. Once an action becomes automatic may seem almost impossible to break. The younger you are when you break these habits, the better. If you have young children you can use this knowledge to instill good eating habits in them from the start. If you are attempting to overcome your own poor eating habits the work involved will be harder, but you can do it.

How Poor Eating Habits are Formed[1]

Eating snack foods while viewing TV

Using food as a bribe, (if I complete this I will give myself a treat)

Using food as an activity, (let’s go grab a pizza)

A kitchen packed with high calorie, sugary snack foods

Cook food treats for your family on a regular basis

Ask yourself if you commit any of these “diet busters.” If so, you can begin to work now to change your dieting and eating habits. Don’t forget to include your family; twenty-five to fifty percent of our kids will become overweight adults. That makes you stop and think.

A Life Long Plan

How would you like to end your bad eating habits and create a life-long, healthy eating plan for you and your family? You can do it, starting today. Here are great tips to get you started:[2]

Plan regular meal times that work for the whole family.[3] Try to eat the same amount, spaced over three meals and not a large amount at any one meal. Some experts advise eating a small meal in the evening.

  • Eat at one place in the home. Bedrooms, sofas, and other comfortable places are out. Choose one spot – a dining table – and eat all of your food at this location.
  • Make treats a treat. Do not keep them within easy reach. Put them in a hard to find spot – you might even forget about them!
  • Do not let your family eat because they are bored. Find something to do for every family member to take the place of grazing.
  • Buy or make nutritious snacks. Snacks are wonderful between meals as long as they are healthy and fit into your diet plan. Do not even bring bad foods into your house if you can help it.
  • If you know that your family overdoes it on one particular ‘bad’ food do not buy that food anymore. This could be savory casseroles or sweet desserts like pies or ice cream. Once you have conquered your bad food habits you can use these foods as a treat on rare occasions.
  • Know what constitutes a serving size. Each member of the family may need a different serving size because of the build. This is crucial in the battle to maintain weight.
  • Prepare healthy snack foods before you need them. If you prepare them ahead of time they will be just as easy to grab as that bag of fatty potato chips.
  • Provide power snacks. Snacks are a wonderful time to get everyone to eat fruit and vegetables. In fact, there are some wonderful veggies that are less than twenty five calories. These are considered freebies on your diet.

Remember, healthy foods are not always healthy if you consume too much of them. Olive oil can be a great healthy food choice. But it becomes just as bad as other diet busters if you eat too much.[4]

Snacks 25 Calories or Less[5] 
Green Pepper
Snacks 25 to 50 calories 
½ grapefruit
¼ cantaloupe
1 cup popcorn plain
1 carrot
Snacks 50 – 100 calories 
1 cup grapes
1 orange
1 apple
1 banana
1 cup watermelon
1 cup strawberries
1 hardboiled egg
1 cup skim milk

You can institute a healthy eating habit right now. Once you break the cycle you no longer have to ask why you ate when you were not hungry. It takes approximately 25 days to break a habit, and make a new habit. Give yourself one month to create your new healthy living lifestyle!


[1]  Forming Good Habits in Children to Avoid Obesity. (2004). Retrieved from Purdue University: www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/CFS/CFS-149-W.pdf

[2]  Ibid

 [3]  University of Tennessee Extension. (n.d.). Retrieved from Tennessee Shapes Up: utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/SP622.pdf

 [4]  Mindless Eating that Adds Pounds. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Institute of Health: newsinhealth.nih.gov/2005/July2005/docs/01features_01.htm#feature01

 [5]  Forming Good Habits in Children to Avoid Obesity. (2004). Retrieved from Purdue University: www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/CFS/CFS-149-W.pdf


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