Healthy eating, working out daily, losing weight — it’s all in the habits, the tiny little habits that add up over time to be big habits.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, defines a habit as a routine or behavior that is performed regularly — and in many cases, automatically. Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them over time, he writes.
Clear isn’t talking specifically about healthy eating habits, but good habits overall. When it comes to eating and working out, this approach can help to achieve remarkable results.
As we assess our own habits when it comes to eating or exercising, here are tips for breaking some bad habits and creating good habits:
» Reduce exposure. If you don’t want to keep sabotaging your diet with dessert, don’t bring the chocolate chip cookies and ice cream home. Instead, pack your cart with fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Prep meals and snacks ahead so there isn’t the temptation to grab fast food.
» Make it unattractive. Put a picture of yourself at the weight you were happiest at on the refrigerator. Add your steps and goals to get there.
» Make it difficult. Increase the number of steps between you and unhealthy eating. And conversely, make it easier to eat healthier. Have a scale on the kitchen counter to weigh portions. Make it easier to go to the gym or work out at home.
» Make it unsatisfying. Working out with a friend increases accountability. Letting a friend know you’re trying to lose weight can help motivate you.
» Make it obvious. Keep the cut-up fruit and vegetables in the front of the refrigerator. Make a big salad that you can portion and take to work.
» Make it easy. Invest in purchases that can help you lock in the right behaviors. Consider a bento box to take your lunch. Buy an ice pack or two to keep lunches cold. Can you invest in a treadmill at home to take the excuses out of going to the gym or walking in inclement weather?
» Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your workout streak or days without dessert to motivate you to continue to avoid “breaking the chain.”
» Never miss twice. When you miss a day of working out or eating healthy, get back on track the next day.
» Master the decisive moment. Optimize small choices — choosing a fruit cup over french fries or a salad with a vinaigrette dressing over a burger or a grilled pork tenderloin over breaded and fried — to achieve your goal of healthier eating.
» Use bundling to your advantage. Pair an action you want to do, like reading a book, with an action you need to do, like walking on the treadmill.
Before long, you’ll have built good habits into your daily routine.
Some whole grains are higher in iron than others. Farina is a good source of plant-based iron that can be topped with your favorite berries.
Q: What should I pack in my kids’ lunches to make them healthier?
A: The Agriculture Department’s MyPlate has some good guidelines. You want a mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy in that lunchbox.
Think beyond sandwiches and pack some crackers with fiber, string cheese, a carton of Greek yogurt, carrots and celery sticks with hummus, a hard-boiled egg and fresh berries. Or to be more traditional, pair a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat, a cut-up apple or grapes, red pepper slices and a carton of milk.
Instant Pot Bacon Gruyère Egg Bites
For many of us the less stressful days of summer (maybe?) are making room for fall’s busy school and work routines. Getting breakfast shouldn’t add to the morning stress. Here’s a recipe, from Hy-Vee’s Seasons magazine, to help make breakfast in a hurry easier. Make these the night before and just reheat in the microwave.
» 1 cup water
» 4 large eggs
» ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
» ½ cup 1% low-fat small curd cottage cheese
» ¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
» 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus additional for garnish
» ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
» Nonstick cooking spray
» 2 slices sweet smoked thick-sliced bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
Place trivet in the bottom of a 6-quart Instant Pot or pressure cooker; pour 1 cup water into Instant Pot. Place eggs, ½ cup Gruyère cheese and cottage cheese in blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Add red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons chives and black pepper. Cover and pulse until combined.
Spray a 7-compartment Instant Pot silicone egg mold with nonstick spray. Pour egg mixture into prepared molds. Set aside 2 teaspoons bacon. Top egg mixture with remaining crumbled bacon and ¼ cup Gruyère cheese. Place mold, uncovered, on trivet in Instant Pot. Lock Instant Pot lid in place and set valve to “Sealing” position.
Cook on “High Pressure” for 10 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. (Quick Release remaining pressure.) Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape. Remove egg mold from Instant Pot and allow egg bites to cool for 2 minutes before removing from molds.
Garnish with reserved 2 teaspoons bacon and additional chives, if desired.
To store, cool egg bites completely. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator up to three days. Reheat each egg bite in microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds or until warm.
Makes 7 egg bites
Per bite: 120 calories; 10 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrates; 8 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated); 0 grams fiber; 1 gram sugar; 230 milligrams sodium
— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. Contact her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.