When the exception becomes the rule: Power of habits

Think of anything you do regularly. Anything. Now count how often you do it.

You sleep once – maybe twice a day, you try to exercise around three times a week (or at least think about it) but how many times a day do you eat?

Eating is probably the most repetitive action in our lives. Other than sleeping, nothing we do in life takes up more of our time than eating, and that’s where the power of this habit lies.Healthy-Eating

As eating is  habitual, at a certain point it becomes what scientists like to call an automatic behaviour. We don’t make conscious decisions every time we eat, many of our choices have already been decided and we repeat them every time we perform an action. For instance we don’t necessarily decide every morning what we are  going to have for breakfast, we just have it, as part of an everyday “ritual”.  If we have a good habit, like eating fruits or drinking water, we are likely to repeat it and its effect are also likely to multiply. Unfortunately for us the same thing happens with our bad habits.

How many times do you get a treat and silence that guilty feeling by thinking “it’s just this one time”. Now think how many times you’ve said this and ask yourself have you done it lately? Don’t worry – you’re not the only one.

Culture forms eating habits in children

A South Australian researcher is looking at how culture forms good and bad habits when it comes to teaching young adolescents about food. The study focuses on comparisons between French and Australian children and compares what and how they eat can impact their weight.

colour kids fruit basket

The numbers show that 15% of children in France are obese while in Australia 25% are currently overweight. In order to find out what the cause of all this extra weight is researchers looked at the ways in which children eat and how they’re educated about food.

According to the study France has a very prescribed food culture. There are three meals a day and no snacking between meals; each meal time is organised and shared between family and friends, and a regular meal usually includes around three to four courses! Experts agree that the French food model is ideal, but difficult to achieve, mainly because Australians are time poor and don’t always plan meals.

Another important point when building healthy habits is involving children in the cooking process, whether it starts from gardening right through to choosing foods and recipes it’s important to allow your children to becoming a part of the meal. Children should be exposed as much as possible to fresh food and as a parents need to show kids good eating habits.

Stress eating is driven by …habits!

A study from the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Expo found that people who eat during stressful periods naturally seek the foods they eat out of habit, regardless of whether they are healthy or not.  Surprising right?!

This study suggests that people who are stressed-out aren’t necessarily turning to high-calorie, low-nutrient comfort food in these situations but are in fact creatures of habit. “Habits don’t change in a high-pressure situation,” researchers said – “people default to what their habits are under stress, whether healthy or not.”

“Habits are 45 per cent of daily life,” experts explain. “They cause us to disregard rational or motivational drivers and instead are cued by context, automated actions, time pressure and low self-control.”

You’d be surprised by how many calories you can easily consume without even realizing it! Our food habits change little by little, so does our body size, and in the end we finish up struggling with a pair of jeans that don’t fit anymore, wondering how we put on all that weight! The key is the habit.

Reviewing our daily routines, discovering our hidden unconscious habits and breaking the bad ones may be long and hard work but you can be sure it will improve your quality of life… and hopefully shed those extra kilos.

What are some of the ways you’ve tried to get yourself into a good eating habit? Tell us about it in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook!


ABC News interview: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-25/culture-forms-eating-habits-in-children/4780072

Institute of Food Technologists- Habits, Not Cravings, Drive Food Choice During Times of Stress.



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