Keys to Success: 5 Elements for Healthy Habits

Last week, I discussed how to make healthy habit changes. This week I’m covering key elements needed to lessen the difficulty of incorporating new habits.

Think of it as a game plan to creating long lasting health habits rather than winging it.  

Consider these elements when implementing new healthy habits:

Keys to Success: 5 Elements for Healthy Habits - Balancing Bites Nutrition.png

1.     Focused, but flexible.

Before beginning any new habits, have a solid plan and a short back up plan. If you’ve decided to change your eating habits, have a few meals and snacks planned and those ingredients stocked. Meal prep once a week for meals you don’t have time to make. Also, have a plan for when you forget your lunch at home or you’re running errands all day. Perhaps you have a local restaurant or grocery store that you can pick up a quick healthy meal.

Schedule and plan your workouts ahead of time, so when you get to the gym or park you don’t waste any time. Also, have a backup in case you aren’t able to workout at your usual place. This is where being flexible and having a backup plan is needed.


2.     Create a successful environment.

Create an environment that is congruent with your goals. If you’re wanting to eat more fruits and vegetables, then stock your kitchen with fresh and frozen produce. If you want to increase your physical activity, make sure you have clean workout clothes.


3.     Trust the process.

Our bodies are sometimes slow to show changes. One week you can lose a few pounds and the next two weeks half a pound. Then the fourth week, you can lose a few pounds again. It’s frustrating, but a reality.

If you are putting in the work, changes are happening. The scale is not the only instrument to document change. Take photos, notice how your clothes feel, and use a measuring tape. These four measurements will give you a better overall picture of what is happening.


4.     Each day (or meal) is a do-over.

Take this process one day, or one meal at a time. If you overeat at lunch, get back on track for your next meal. If you skipped your workout, get back on track the next day.


5.     Above all, be consistent.

Consistency is huge. What you do day in and day out ultimately determines whether you succeed or not. One overindulgence or skipped workout will not derail you. Overtime you will be successful.

How to Create Healthy Habits for Weight Loss and Wellness

Creating new habits is not an easy process, but it is doable.

Whether your goal is weight loss or improving wellness, creating healthy habits is a strategy that can help you reach your goals. The key to creating lasting habits is to start small, choose one that will jump start whatever goal you’re working on, and stay consistent.

How to Create Healthy Habits for Weight Loss and Wellness - Balancing Bites Nutrition.png

For weight loss, record your food/drink intake for 7 days and include the amount of food eaten and when.

Next, look over your food log and take note of your food preferences and meal pattern. It’s important to consider your lifestyle, likes, and dislikes. You don’t want to change your lifestyle too much or too drastically.

Make a list of habits, and pick one that is easy and will have an impact on reducing calories.

Stick with that habit for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, ask yourself if the habit change had any positive affect on your life. If so, continue the habit and add another one.

Continue in this manner until you reach your goals. Once you have reached your goals, you will want to continue with your healthy habits. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included a habit tracker you can print or upload to the Goodnotes app to keep track of your habits.

How to Habit Tracker Balancing Bites Nutrition.PNG

I’ve listed some habits for you to consider if you’re wanting to improve your health and lose weight:

  • -Lift weights

  • -Drink more water

  • -Walk and move more

  • -Eat more produce

  • -Get 7-9 hours of sleep daily

  • -Keep a food and exercise log

  • -Cook or prepare most of your meals at home

  • -Eat protein at most meals

  • -Swap regular soda for diet soda

  • -Cut out liquid calories

  • -Monitor progress

  • -Snack less often

  • -Start meditating

  • -Practice yoga

  • -Keep a gratitude journal

Keeping track of your habits is a great way to stay consistent and accountable. Click on the link to download your habit tracker.

What healthy habits are you working on?

Habit Tracker - Balancing Bites Nutrition.png

The Benefits of Eating Slowly

Eating slowly is a tool used in a mindful eating approach. It allows to really focus on what it is we’re eating and how that food makes us feel.

Benefits of eating slowly

The Benefits of Eating Slowly - Balancing Bites Nutrition.png


Eating slowly allows us to fully experience and enjoy our foods. Foods are not only meant to fuel us, but also to give us joy. By eating slowly, we are able to appreciate the flavors, smells, texture, and colors of our foods.

There is joy to be found in even the simplest foods.


Better digestion

Eating slowly improves our digestion.

There are many steps to digestion. Many people believe we start digesting food once it hits our stomach, but that is not true. We start the digestion process as soon as we smell and see the food.

Once we smell and see the food, we begin producing saliva. The saliva moistens our mouth in preparation for eating and it contains enzymes that helps break down the food, along with chewing.

The secretion of saliva also signals to other parts of our digestive tract, such as our stomach to produce more acid.

Eating quickly doesn’t give our body and brain time to register that it is full. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the start of the meal for the brain to send signals of fullness. It’s usually after we have overeaten that our bodies start to feel discomfort.


Eat less

Eating quickly causes people to unintentionally eat more food. Because it takes 20 minutes for the brain to signal fullness, people don’t realize they’re full and take in too many calories. Overtime, this causes weight gain.


More control

People that binge eat often have an overwhelming and uncontrollable desire to eat. During these episodes they rapidly eat an excessive amount of food and often feel out of control and guilt.

One way to battle binge eating is to slow down. If you feel a binge coming on or in the middle of a binge, if you can, try to stop and take 5 deep belly breaths. Afterwards, walk away or if you’re eating a meal, make a conscious effort to slow down.  

Eating slowly will give you a sense of control and prevent overeating. So, how you eat slowly?

Below are my top tips on how to eat slowly:

  • Eat with your non-dominate hand.

  • Put down utensils when chewing food.

  • Drink a sip of water in between bites.

  • Use chopsticks to eat your food.

  • Set aside time to eat and use a timer for at least 20 minutes.

  • Enjoy a conversation with family and friends.

  • If you start to eat fast, put down your utensils and take a minute or two to refocus and slow down.

  • Add raw vegetables or fruit to your meal. It takes more time to chew raw produce than it does cooked produce.


What are your tips for eating slower?

Mindful Eating

One of the many benefits of practicing yoga is you start to become more present and mindful. You worry less about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future and focus on what is happening right now.

Mindfulness brings awareness to what is around you and what is going on inside you. You start to notice how your body is feeling, your thoughts, and your behavior.

When you’re mindful of the foods you eat, you identify how different foods affect your body and you react accordingly. You start eat foods that give you energy. You begin to eat slower and recognize when you are full. And, you identify cravings from hunger.

There are many benefits to mindful eating, such as weight loss, reducing binges, and improving digestion.

Listed below are a few ways to start eating mindfully.

Mindful Eating - Balancing Bites Nutrition.png

 Cravings vs Hunger

When you start craving a food, slow down and ask yourself if it is a craving or are you hungry. Instead of reacting automatically, take a few minutes to tune in to how you are feeling. Drink a glass of water. Are you still having cravings or are you hungry?

Another way to tell if you’re having cravings or are hungry, is to eat a bowl of vegetables. If you’re hungry, then the vegetables will fill you up. If you’re still craving a specific food, identify what it is your craving, and eat a small portion of it after you eat a bowl of vegetables. The vegetables will fill you up and prevent you from eating too much of what it is you are craving.  


Limit distractions

Eating while distracted, such as watching tv or working, has shown to increase the amount of food people eat. When we’re not fully aware of what we are eating, we don’t process that information and are soon reaching for more food. Mindful eating forces us to appreciate the different flavors, smells, and colors of our meals.


Eat Slowly

When we eat fast, our bodies don’t have enough time to register it is full. It takes approximately 20 minutes for our brains to receive the signal that we’re full. It’s usually after we have overeaten that our bodies start to feel discomfort.

Eating slowly without distractions will help you tune into how your body feeling. So, how do you eat slowly? One way is to set your utensil down while chewing or take a drink of water in between bites. Having a conversation with friends and family will also help you eat slower.

To begin experimenting with mindful eating, choose one meal to focus on. Once you get the hang of it, add another meal. Continue in this fashion until you feel confident with mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a great way to feel in control with what and how much you are eating.