Making Healthy Nutrition a Habit

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BetterUp Studios

10 min

Variety of Food

Many of us are creatures of habit and, over time, the things we do every day can have a huge impact on our nutrition goals.

In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear suggests that many of our daily actions essentially become invisible to us because we’re so used to performing them.

By filling out a habit scorecard, you can take inventory of the conscious and unconscious routines that might be affecting your health and nutrition goals—for better or worse.


  1. Take a few minutes to reflect on the dietary habits you currently tend to stick to on a daily basis. Even small actions can be impactful—having a glass of water when you wake up can significantly boost your metabolism, for example—so try to be as rigorous as possible. It might help to ask a roommate or partner for their input.
  2. Once you’ve taken some time to reflect, make an inventory of your dietary habits using a scorecard like the one shown below. Comprehensively review your food and drink choices that tend to recur on a daily or weekly basis.
  3. After you’ve completed the list, take a few minutes to consider whether each dietary choice positively (+) or negatively (-) impacts your long-term health goals. If it’s a neutral habit, simply note it as such (=). Mark each habit accordingly.
  4. Rather than eliminating negative habits wholesale, try to replace them with positive options.

For example, if you’re someone who likes to snack a lot while watching Netflix before bed, consider taking a week to swap your usual snacks for air-popped popcorn as a filling, but lower calorie snack. If you’re fairly inactive, don’t commit to running five days a week off the bat. Start by running once a week and stick to that approach until it becomes a habit.

Daily Dietary Habit Positive (+), Negative (-), or Neutral (=) Alternative
Ice Cream - Yogurt
Candy - Dried Fruit

Just like making habits, changing habits takes time. Drastically modifying your approach to nutrition isn’t likely to produce lasting change in your health. Try to stay mindful about your daily actions, and be patient with yourself as you work to transform your actions, little by little.

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