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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Healthy Eating: Overcoming Barriers to Change
Replacing a bad habit with a good habit takes
time and patience. It requires several steps, from setting your goals to
getting support. One of the important steps is figuring out what your barriers
What has stopped you from changing your eating habits in the
past? What do you think might stop you in the future? Identifying these
barriers now—and having a plan to help you get past them—will help you change
bad habits into good habits.
best way to overcome barriers is to identify them ahead of time and have a
backup plan to deal with them. Some barriers are the kind that keep you from
even trying to change a habit. Other barriers pop up later.
you hit a barrier—and most people do—get support. Talk to your family members
and friends to see if someone wants to be active with you or cheer you on. If
you have concerns about your health, talk to your doctor to make sure you're
doing your activities safely.
There are many reasons why you may
not want to try to change your eating habits. Here are some frequent barriers
and some solutions to them.
Not believing you can do something is often really just a
fear of failure. People put off making changes in their lives because of this
fear. This kind of barrier can keep you from even starting to make a lifestyle
change. But it can also crop up on days when you feel discouraged.
This is a very common reason not to change. It can take
the form of "My life is too busy," or "I'm always feeling rushed," or "I have
more important things to do."
Many people use this reason or variations of it such as "I
don't like vegetables," "I don't like low-fat foods," or "I really crave sweets
and high-fat foods. I'll miss them." Often a fear of the unknown is behind
It's true that things like fresh produce, whole-grain
breads, and other healthy food items can cost more than fast foods and junk
foods. Sometimes it seems like your budget would do better if you just ate
cheap fast food every day.
But you can stay within your budget by
putting in some extra time planning, shopping, and cooking. And the more time
you invest, the more money you'll save.
Many people are held back from changing their eating
habits because of how they think it will look to others. It can be hard to
stick with a healthy eating plan when family and friends don't want to join
This reason may take the form of "I'm too old (or fat, or
set in my ways) to make changes." Often, low self-esteem makes it hard to
To help you identify your own barriers to changing your
eating habits, think about the last few times you thought about changing your
eating behavior but didn't follow through with it. What held you back? Write
down your reasons. Then for each of your reasons, write a response that helps
you reconsider your choice. Look at your list of reasons and responses whenever
you are about to make a choice about what to eat.
January 25, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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