Here are some tips for changing habits from researchers who research such things:
Cut yourself some slack. Habits are hard to change because, well, they're habits.
Choose one to two habits to work on at a time, and choose ones that you truly feel committed to changing.
Identify the underlying cause for the behavior. All habits fulfill a need.
Deal with the real problem. Keeping a journal is one way to discuss the problem with yourself.
Give yourself enough time to change any habit. Studies show that it takes from 30 to 60 days of conscious effort to effect change.
Allow for slips because they will happen. The important thing is to get back on track quickly, without reprimanding yourself.
Some Suggested Healthy Habits to Establish:
Drink more water. Try for 48 to 64 ounces a day. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. (Unstable plastics are: 1, 3, 6, and 7, and are absorbed by fatty tissue.) Never drink from a plastic water bottle that sat in a hot car!
Eat at least 3 meals a day. Eat a hearty breakfast, a high energy lunch, and a healthy small dinner.
Drink a glass of water with every meal.
Eat breakfast every day.
Eat more slowly. By eating slowly, your brain has time to register when you are full.
Eat more fruits and vegetables (though keep in mind that some fruits and vegetables are high in carbohydrates). In other words, eat a colorful plate.
Eat smaller meals. Using smaller plates and not going back for seconds may help.
Use lunch as an opportunity to eat a big salad.
Sit down at the table for meals.
Avoid eating in front of the television. You want to eat mindfully.
Limit your intake of saturated fats and don’t eat trans-fats at all.
Limit your carbohydrate intake.
Record your food intake.
Eat only when you are hungry.
Deal with your cravings. Think about what is triggering them, and write down your thoughts. If you cannot put aside your salt or sugar cravings then choose healthier alternatives such as pickles (the saltiest food known to humans) or fruit.
Avoid eating after dinner. You are more likely to have heart burn if you eat before going to bed.
When you go to a restaurant, cut your portion in half, and take it home for another meal.
Try to cook more of your food from scratch.
Clean out up your kitchen, and throw out all junk food, and heavily processed foods.
Eat plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber each day.
Spend 10 minutes a day practicing Mindfulness Meditation. (see Andy Puddicombe’s talk “All It Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes on Ted.com)
Do not watch television before you have done some exercise.
Increase physical activity. Start out with 10 minutes a day if you aren’t at all active, and add on as tolerated. The ideal goal is 30 minutes of “moderate exercise” most days of the week. Examples of moderate exercise are brisk walking, mowing the lawn, swimming. You are more likely to exercise if you figure out what you enjoy doing.
Come up with a positive affirmation, and say it to yourself throughout the day. An example is: “I have confidence in my abilities and myself, and I welcome optimal health into my life.”
Go to bed and get up on a consistent schedule, and sleep between 6-10 hours per night.