Humans are creatures of habit. Once we get set in a routine, we tend to stick to it like a hamster on a wheel… for better and for worse.
But bad habits – from neglecting those around us, to biting our fingernails, from watching too much TV to nighttime binges – often have a side effect of guilt and disappointment. And let’s be honest, these are not healthy emotions to hang on to.
And really, why would you? There are so many super simple ways to create new, healthy habits in your life… you just have to make the decision to start! 🙂
If you’re ready to jumpstart your health and happiness, try working these in to your daily routine (if you haven’t already):
Healthy Habit #1: Set a bed time
For many of us, the beginning of the day is the most rigidly scheduled. We set an alarm at a very specific time to wake up, yet bed time varies according to stress, work, the big game, or which must-see TV shows are on that night.
But you can jumpstart your way to better sleep by being more consistent with the time you go to bed, than worrying about the morning alarm. By going to bed at the same time each night, your body will naturally adapt to your schedule and begin preparing for sleep before you actually lie down. This will put your body and brain at ease and will improve your quality of rest.
Imagine waking up every day feeling fully rested and ready to take on the day! When you listen to your internal clock and go to bed when it says to; your body and mind will thank you in the morning.
Healthy Habit #2: Drink before you eat
I’m not talking about alcohol, though a nice glass of red wine with dinner can have healthy effects. Right now, I’m actually talking about water. That’s right, H2O.
Water makes up just about everything in the Universe and is absolutely vital for our health. Just think… the human body is made of 70% water and water acts as the main transporter of nutrients throughout the body. In short, the human body relies on water to function.
When we ignore our need for water, we become drowsy and irritable. Our bodies crave water, but the message to our brain is often delayed due to external stresses and distractions. By the time we feel really “thirsty” our body is already deprived and dehydrated.
While you should always stay hydrated, drinking a full glass of water about thirty minutes before each meal has added benefits. Drinking water helps to release enzymes, which create the perfect environment for food to begin digestion. This same process also begins to trigger your satiation (which simply means how full you feel) and helps to keep us from over eating.
Healthy Habit #3: Succumb to cravings
Cravings are absolutely natural, so give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods in moderation without guilt! When we try to ignore our cravings, eventually the urge tends to catch up and cause a binge reaction. In the end, we end up consuming more than we even wanted in the first place.
The solution then, is not to ignore your cravings but to embrace them in moderation – the key is to limit serving size. Cravings can be appeased by relatively small amounts. For example, if chocolate is your achilles heel, try buying bite size candies rather than a king size bar.
As you create a healthier lifestyle, you may even notice your cravings change. Don’t be surprised if the smell of fresh fruit, roasted veggies, and other ‘good for you’ foods make your mouth water!
In fact, once we realize that our bad habits are nothing more than learned behaviors, it becomes easier to make conscious, healthy choices. And each smart decision will lead to an overall improvement in your health, which is so important for achieving a truly happy life.
I think half the time the majority of the issues going on with me is that I’m not consuming enough water and as soon as I start to consume more water I actually start to feel better about pretty much everything in life I think that’s the key ingredient to really changing your body’s chemistry.
Here’s a great tip: learn to cook! Seriously, the time it takes to learn how to make a good meal is sooo incredibly worth it (unless you’re like a millionaire with your own personal chef). It may seem daunting but it’s not hard at all. The satisfaction and pride you get after cooking a good meal for yourself or family and friends is pretty great. Plus you save money by not eating out
I am guilty of not drinking enough water. I tend to pour myself a glass and then walk away into a different room. A lot like setting a bed time, I am going to have to set my mind to drinking more water. My skin feels better when I drink more water too.
Drinking water is actually something extremely simple and we can discipline ourselves into that. I always have a bottle of water near me and I feel better when I drink the recommended daily dosage. The downside is that I pee more often. 🙂
I agree with number three! I try very hard to listen to my body and what it wants, not just eat something because of habit, time of day, or the people I’m with. But that said, if I have a strong craving for something (sugar, fat, even meat) I trust my body to know what makes it feel best. This is my best strategy for avoiding over-eating or impulse eating, and keeping a healthy relationship with food.
Healthy Habit #1 really spoke to me. I have my alarm clock set at a certain hour for weekdays and weekends, but it never occurred to me that it is equally as important to have set time to go to bed as well. I am guilty of letting TV shows dictate my bedtime. It is time to make better use of the DVR and start going to bed at a decent hour every night.
I like to drink a glass of water before I eat a meal. It really helps cut down on the amount I eat, and everyone probably needs to drink more water anyway.
I need to push the water a little harder, especially before meals. I know my body needs the extra fluid and it does assist in halting overeating. 3 very great tips. The key is to make them a habit!
I’m currently struggling with having a fixed bed time although I’m aware of the benefits of getting a full night sleep and fixing your circadian rhythm. Can anyone share some tips on how to put yourself into sleep quickly? Sometimes cheese and honey works for me, and cold showers too. I also use flux and sleep melodies.
I also have a question about drinking water. I’ve read conflicting articles about the necessity of drinking 8 glasses a day and I also heard that drinking water after a meal is bad for you. Is there any truth to this?
I to drink diet Mt. Dew like crazy. Until about 7 years ago I decided it was time for a change for the better. So I gave up the dew with some headaches of course and sweets. It wasn’t really that hard. Maybe it was because I had already made my mind up and was determined to do it.
Now 7 years later I haven’t had a diet Mt. Dew since, but do drink one Diet Coke a day. Very rare occasions will I have something sweet. I drink water all day everyday, eat healthy and exercise. It comes natural to me now because I have been doing it for so long.
I love listening to my body and it’s great that this principle of following one’s cravings is being promoted here. I can always tell how my body is doing based on what I want to eat, especially if I’ve been drinking too much or mindlessly eating a lot of junk food. It helps balance things out when I suddenly crave meat or spinach or yogurt. Following those urges always increases my energy and helps improve my mood.
I had no idea that it was good to drink water before you eat and the effect it would have. I will certainly work on this habit. I completely agree that we have to treat ourselves a little more gently, and then we will find it easier to change our habits for the better as we become aware of those that are bad for us. One new habit at a time, one day at a time can bring huge change to our lives.
I have regular sleep schedules. I’m an early bird and I always make sure I get at least 7 hours of sleep. However, I’m guilty of not following last two tips. I’ve told myself many times that I would drink more water from now on but I rarely if ever feel like I’m thristy. Therefore, my daily water intake is really low. I should try drinking before each meal. I’ve heard it makes you feel full faster. Because I never feel full after my meals, I tend to get a lot of cravings and I snack way too much. I also feel guilty afterwards and I guess my relationship with food is not healthy.
One of the hardest things I find to do is actually stop my craving. For example, if I’m hungry I go straight to the fridge and grab a bar of chocolate because of the crave for it. I’m not sure how I’m able to battle this apart from saying ‘no’ to myself but this has helped a lot. At least I know more about how to keep myself healthier and so I can lose some weight.
A set bed time and drinking more water would benefit me immensely. Right now I go to bed whenever I feel like it or after I have watched whatever interests me on t.v. This means I can go to sleep anywhere from 9 pm to 11 pm or later. I think setting a bed time would help me get better sleep and get more sleep. Drinking plenty of water has always been an issue for me. I enjoy my soda too much. These days I aim to drink two bottles of water and that is no where near enough. Every day I try to drink more but I don’t always succeed.
A very important habit that this article omits to highlight is the importance of exercise. Exercising for a few hours daily/ weekly holds innumerable benefits for your health. It improves respiratory, cardiac, mental, and muscular functioning and, in the long-run, also improves longevity. So an exercise set a day, keeps your health problems away!
I tend to drink at least three liters of water daily. I’ve heard the advice about drinking water before a meal to make you less hungry, so you in turn eat less, but I’ve never heard of drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before to release enzymes. I’m going to have to try that. I also tend to do pretty well indulging in the occasional naughty craving without feeling guilty or shameful. What I have serious trouble with is my sleeping routine. I’m going to give this first idea a try. I need all the help I can get. I saw another article about sleeping while I was browsing through the titles. I’m going to pop over and give that one a read.
I struggle with setting a time for bed and I probably give in to my cravings more often than I should. However, I have to agree with Healthy Habit #2. Drinking water is an important tip to get you on track to a much more healthier lifestyle. A few years ago, I was drinking nothing but sweet tea and sodas. I rarely ever drank water. I felt fatigued all the time, my skin was horrible, and when I went to the dentist for a regular check-up, I always had cavities! Needless to say, I gave up all sugary drinks and even the tea I loved so much and switched to water. Since I switched to drinking water, I feel so much better, have more energy, my skin has cleared up and I haven’t had a cavity in years. It really did wonders for my health. In the rare times that I do have a soda, I find that it tastes too sweet and I start craving water. I could never go back to drinking sodas and sugary drinks the way I used to.
I totally understand you because when it’s late and I am not sleeping my stomach starts to ask me for food. So it’s two times negative, not only I am not sleeping properly, but I am also eating out of hours what I don’t need.
This was excellent advice. I used to bite my nails but unlearned the habit. This was a habit I had to break, especially since I told my children not to do it. I believe that healthy behaviors can be learned. It is hard to set a bed time, especially in the summer. It is slightly easier in the fall when the children have returned to school. I will have to work on that one. Another habit that I am picking up is exercise. I have been doing it everyday so far and I feel better. It gives me the energy I need to get me through the day. When I don’t do it I feel sluggish.
I really like that expression, to unlearn the habit. The fact is that the most hard things to change are habits, but once we identify what we are doing wrong we can start working on changing them, many times the hardest thing is to realize what we need to change.
I absolutely agree with Ireca. Healthy habits most certainly can be learnt. There is a hypothesis according to which you need to practice a certain behavior for 30 days before it becomes a habit. In the beginning, there will be a lot of obstacles that fall in your way, but overcoming these only makes you stronger and more committed.
I am not very accustomed to set timing for my sleeping routine. There are days that I sleep for 6 hours, and days that I sleep for 11 hours. I find it quite hard to force myself to sleep, especially when I am not tired. Starting a sleeping schedule seems to be the hardest part about having a set bed time. Often I will just be rolling around for hours, which seems to reduce the amount of sleep I am getting.
I think that the simple habits are the ones that do make a difference in improving our health. I am OK with the bedtime as I usually go to bed around the same time and I get my 7-8 hours sleep per day. As for drinking (water! :)), I also try to drink between meals. In what concerns cravings these are harder to control, at the same time if we have a balanced diet and all the nutrients are there, we surely will see our cravings be reduced.
Urga, that messes you body up totally, sleeping 11 hours per day is something I do only when I am very sick!
DRINK BEFORE YOU EAT! So simple and so true. You’re not always hungry, sometimes you’re just thirsty or craving. Water is a great substitute for cravings, it fills up your stomach and keeps you from resorting to bad foods instead of waiting for the right meal.
Also, it really makes sense that our sleep pattern will affect our health. When I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep at night, the next day I feel like a zombie: concentrating is hard, I get headaches and etc.
Also, let’s not forget dehydration can be confusing sometimes, as it’s not always clear why we’re feeling it. Not everyone knows the reason why they’re feeling so bad is lack of water!
That is one good and simple tip. Instead of drinking during meals, we should be drinking a couple of hours before the meals. The same with fruit. Fruit should not be eaten after the meals, but in between.
All three are great habits – but the set bedtime is the most effective for me. Maybe because I’ve allowed cravings to get the better of me now and then AND I have drunk a glass of water before eating for a long time.
But about 5 years ago I decided to set a bedtime and have stuck to it with some flexibility as and when needed – I have been much more productive since then.
I disagree with #2. Drinking before eating is something that people who are trying to lose weight would do. But if you want to stay healthy, you should eat your calories, not drink them. If you drink before eating, your stomach will almost be full, and then you won’t want to eat your food anymore and therefore you won’t be getting the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in the food.
The issue with cravings is that in my opinion we don’t understand them correctly. When the body is unbalanced we crave the nutrients we are lacking, so if we have a balanced diet all the cravings will stop and we can control what we eat better.
EAT BEFORE YOU DRINK. Drinking before eating is something people who are trying to lose weight would do, because drinking would fill you up and then you won’t be hungry for food anymore. You’re supposed to eat your calories, not drink them. By drinking first, you’ll be too full and then you won’t want to eat food which contains all the vitamins and nutrients needed to stay healthy.
That is correct, we should not be drinking during the meals (especially cold drinks), but not immediately before the meals either, we need to give it a time so that the water goes through our body and acts it’s magic. Being too full with water will mix the food with water and digestion is not so easy.
Well when it comes to simple things, I have not heard anything as easy as drinking before you eat. When it comes to that, it is probably just an issue of changing my routine and taking the time to get used to it. I am curious why these things are just not more common knowledge if they are so simple, but I guess it just gets lost in all the other health news that surrounds us. Thank you for sharing this.
This reminds me of some tests which were done on Ritalin in ADHD children, where the researchers couldn’t figure out why the placebo trial was having such a large effect – turns out it had nothing to do with the pill they were taking, but the astonishingly simple act of drinking a glass of water with it! Orange juice and milk are not substitutes for water, and we need to instill this behavior of drinking plain old water in our kids as young as we possibly can.
This was really good advice. I have found that I feel better when I have a set time that I go to bed each night. I hadn’t heard the one about drinking before eating, but I do drink water all day long. And I completely agree about the succumbing to cravings, anytime I tried not letting myself do that, it doesn’t usually end well.
I disagree about your advice on cravings. Once you satisfy your cravings after holding yourself for so long… you go all out. No amount of willpower can help you. Plus I find it very hard to stop my cravings after I have already let myself go… It’s harder to start again than to stop.
As I read I really can relate to myself all that 3 habits is me . But I’m trying to have better lifestyle. As of now I have a 5month old baby and I can’t really sleep well I’m lucky if I sleep 8hours a day but I can’t my baby keeps on waking to have a milk especially I’m a breastfeeding mommy. Because of breastfeeding I also want to drink and drink water I really feel thirsty but when it comes to food I really cannot succumb cravings every after breastfeeding I always crave for food maybe that’s natural . Maybe I can control my eating if my baby stop in breastfeeding.