Simple Changes Break Bad Habits
Breaking bad habits might not be as overwhelming as it may seem. In fact, the simplest of changes can lead to a completely new lifestyle, a recent study shows.
For instance, getting up from the couch and not slipping into a 'couch-potato' state leads to less time munching through a bag of chips or chocolate chip cookies.
"Just making two lifestyle changes has a big overall effect and people don't get overwhelmed," said Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and lead author of the study published in Archives of Internal Medicine.
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The study found that simply watching less television, or spending less time in front of a computer screen, and eating fruits and vegetables are two key behaviors that can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
"Americans have all these unhealthy behaviors that put them at high risk for heart disease and cancer, but it is hard for them and their doctors to know where to begin to change those unhealthy habits," Spring said. "This approach simplifies it."
The concept of breaking a habit has baffled scientists for ages, and addictive lifestyles still plague our society. More and more, like journalist Charles Duhigg, are suggesting that there may be a root habit leading to all the others, and the key is to finding it and changing it. After the one root habit is changed, the others will come naturally and not feel forced.
The study asked participants to engage in a three-week experiment for $175 where they would implement the simple changes of eating more fruits and vegetables and spending less time in front of the television or computer. After the three weeks were up, they could go back to their normal lifestyles, and all they had to do was send in data for up to $80.
Spring was amazed by how such a short treatment plan was effective.
"We thought they'd do it while we were paying them, but the minute we stopped they'd go back to their bad habits," she said. "But they continued to maintain a large improvement in their health behaviors."
It seemed that increasing their fruit and vegetable intake made the participants feel more empowered, and less inclined to slip back into their diet of saturated fats.