Changing unhealthy habits in the new year | Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB)

Changing unhealthy habits in the new year

Posted by: on Monday January 13, 2020

What is a habit? It’s a behavior that is routine and occurs without thinking.

Take your pick of new books about changing habits: 1) The Self-Care Solution by Dr. Jennifer Ashton, physician/nutritionist – a year of monthly new health habits attempted by the author; 2) Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, Ph.D. – an in-depth workbook focused on creating tiny habits. (I especially liked the examples of tiny habits in the book and at; or 3) Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood – a deep dive into research about habit formation with many examples.

According to a 2015 US. News and World Report article, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. Listening to a podcast was this good piece of advice about changing habits from Dan Buettner, who looked at longevity in parts of the world called ‘Blue Zones: “Change your environment, change your habits.”

**How long it takes to form a habit – in one study it took an average of 66 days for a behavior to become automatic but the range was 18 to 254 days. Other considerations…the person, the behavior and the context.

**How long does it take for a new behavior to become a new habit confirms the study results above and also reminds us that pleasure-based habits are harder to change. One way to help change a habit is by looking at the cues that prompt the behavior – people, environment, activities – so that you can break the link.

**Creating healthy habits suggests knowing your habits, making a plan, staying on track and focusing on the future.

**SMART goals for lifestyle change outlines each part of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based.

**Hale and hearty policies: how psychological science can create and maintain healthy habits looks at the ways policies can support habit formation or habit disruption to support government goals such as Healthy People 2020.


**Hidden Brain: Creatures of Habit w/Wendy Wood, author of Good Habits, Bad Habits (Dec. 30 ep, 51 min.): The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick explores how to create good habits, do away with bad habits (create ‘friction’ or take ‘friction’ away such as joining a gym that isn’t so far to drive to). I liked her description of sleeping in running clothes so she could get up in the morning and run!

**CBS This Morning (Jan. 1, 2020, 5 min.) Turning your New Year’s resolution into a habit w/James Clear author of Atomic Habits

**Minnesota Public Radio (Dec. 26 ep, 50 min.) How to make new habits that stick in 2020 w/Gretchen Rubin includes: make resolutions specific and concrete; know yourself (if you’re not a morning person, exercising in the morning may not work and if you aren’t into moderation (1 square of chocolate allowed) then you may be an abstainer (no chocolate works best).

**KERA – (Jan. 8 ep, 48 min.) Strategies for keeping those New Year’s resolutions: Dr. Jennifer Ashton, physician/nutritionist, author of The Self-Care Solution – A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier and Fitter One Month at a Time, shares her experiences (successful and not-so-successful) setting monthly goals such as increased plant-based eating, drinking more water and cutting back on sugar.


**6 great apps to build new apps (all are free) @

**Food and Nutrition magazine (The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) – apps reviewed by RDNs @