24 July 2013

30 Days 30 Letters: An Open Letter To My Diet Buddy #8 - How to Break Bad Habits (Including Mindless Eating) Without Trying

This is letter #8 in Her Weight loss Diary's new series - 30 Days Letters to My Diet Buddy project. The road to weight loss can be tough. If you want to feel like you aren't alone in your diet endeavors, buddying up can hold you accountable for every bite you take. Subscribe here, because you don't want to miss any letter.

P.s. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts, the best thoughtful comments will be featured every Friday.


Dear Diet Buddy,

weight loss, bad habit, mindless eating
What are some of your bad habits? Being a bad listener, being critical, speaking when angry, clinging to the past, keep making excuses? Or, do you find that you have bad habits towards certain kinds of food and drink?

Bad habits are made to be broken. But they can be sometimes hard to be break. If snacking mindlessly in front of the TV is your bad, old habit you can delete your bad behaviors by learning to turn off the autopilot. According to Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., the author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, many bad habits are triggered by the context (e.g., watching TV, socializing, feeling stressed), rather than by any particular desire to engage in the behavior. So the effective key to stop a bad habit isn't making a resolution – it’s figuring out how to disrupt the behavior, preferably before it starts.
weight loss, bad habit, mindless eating

1. Disrupt the habit by changing the context
If you have a habit you’d like to break, spend some time thinking about the situations in which it most often occurs. If you snack in front of the TV at night, consider doing something else in the evenings for a while – reading a good book, spending time with friends or family, even surfing the web. Any alternative activity is less likely to trigger mindless eating. If you just can’t give up your favorite shows, you might try rearranging the room, or sitting in a different chair – anything that alters the context can help.

2. Disrupt a habit by changing the method of performance
If you can’t change the situation, you can change the way the habit gets executed. If you mindlessly eat or smoke with your right hand, try only using your left. If you mindlessly drink from the glass that the bartender keeps refilling, try sitting at a table instead of the bar so you’ll have to consciously get up and ask for a refill. Making the behavior a little more difficult or awkward to perform can be a great way to throw a wrench in the works. 

For more proven strategies for reaching your goals (that actually work), check Dr. Heidi's book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals and visit her blog Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson.

Do you have any successful habits-breaking bad habits? Share your personal experience in the comments.

Yours truly,

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  1. One of my bad habits, which isn't every day but I do tend to crave processed food when I'm really stressed. Which is odd because I usually find it disgusting!

  2. I tend to snack when I watch TV at night, so I've started watching upstairs in my bedroom. No food up there, and I'm too lazy to get up and get some once I'm all comfy in bed.

  3. Tamara, same to me, especially when I'm bored. Why comfort foods are so comforting?
    Dana, so this is how to disrupt a habit by changing the method of performance? I used to brush my teeth at 8pm most night to avoid eating more foods. Eating after brush my teeth is very unpleasant. This will help to control my portions.

    Thanks for commenting.

  4. my biggest bad habit is eating when i'm bored. i do my best to catch myself when i feel it coming on, but i have to really work at it.

  5. I’ve got so many bad habits! Night snacking was definitely a tough one for me and the husband. I won’t say we’ve stopped altogether; but we’ve at least cut it down in half (that’s what we did for Lent this year). Thanks for tips on battling the hardest things to change!


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