The basic rule behind healthy eating is: “Eat more of the good, and less of the bad.” It is all about cleaning up your diet and focusing on healthier foods like vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and proteins, rather than on refined and processed foods.

The benefits of changing your eating habits are obvious – you will lead a better life, live longer, and avoid several serious diseases, but getting rid of pizza, donuts and extremely large lattes is not as easy as it sounds. So, here are some steps you can take to get your eating habits on the right track.

Determine Why

Building any new habits requires little elbow grease, and eating better is no exception. This is why you need to determine why you need this change. Maybe you want to run a marathon, or you have a high-school reunion coming up and you want to look your best. Or, perhaps you are just feeling bad, and want to boost your mood and energy; or you are thinking about your health.

These can be some of the ways to find the motivation you need to focus on healthier eating. The best motivation that will inspire you to change is the one that is rooted in positive thinking. If you are doing it just because someone told you so, it will make you quit after a short period of time because motivation doesn’t come from you.

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Determine How Much

You need to be aware that acquiring a new habit takes time, because a goal that is worth achieving needs time. So, after you have established why, you need to determine how much time you are going to set aside for this process. That will include preparing your meals, shopping for healthy groceries, and planning the meals. Making a small change in your diet, like eating a fruit instead of having a bag of chips is a habit you can achieve in a short period of time, but preparing healthy lunches for one entire week, that needs more time and devotion.

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Prepare Now, Eat Later

Now it is time to take those healthy ingredients and transform them into clean wholesome meals that you will simply adore. You can always start by looking online for some simple and fast recipes that you can prepare by yourself. There are many food blogs and mobile apps that will help you find recipes that will suit you the most.

Preparation is going to take more time than just fixing up a PB&J, but believe me, it is not that difficult. Prepare bigger batches, so that you always have leftovers to bring to work in a good airtight leak-proof container. Look for the best bento lunch box to pack your meals or store and freeze them, so that you have quick and easy meals ready for the whole week.

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Create Specific and Measurable Goals

You can start the process of healthy eating habits by tackling one thing at a time. For example, if you have an evening chocolate obsession, how will you beat it? Maybe you will be moderate and say to yourself, I will stop eating too much chocolate. But, what will this mean? Will you eat one bar per day or just switch to dark chocolate?

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You need to be specific and make measurable goals. Perhaps putting the chocolate in the cabinet and taking just one bar every day is a good way to go. Even better, you can stop eating it and substitute it with something healthier made from scratch, after your healthy dinner. You need to set a clear path that you will follow, and that will help you tackle your obsession with sweets.

When you are trying to develop healthy eating habits, the key is to achieve a sense of mental toughness, because, once you experience success, you will only want more of it. So, regularly monitor your progress, and even if you still haven’t achieved your goal after a while, that’s okay. Just keep working on it, and soon it will become effortless, manageable and automatic.