It can take as low as 21 days to form or break a habit, some experts say (Psycho-Cybernatics; early 70s). Recently, that figure has been revised to 66 days (How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world, The European Journal of Social Psychology, July 2009). Even so, there are still gaps in this knowledge. The difficulty of breaking or forming a habit often depends on what kind of habit one is trying to break and how attached one is to it (addiction level perhaps), what support mechanism one has to break that habit, and frequency of exposure.
However, bad habits can be broken and good ones can be formed.
From my experience, if I hold back on something long enough, it loses its allure or its power over me. Need I tell you how many times I have stood in front of an ice-cream bar and willed myself to walk away? How many times I had started reaching for a bottle of soda or a second cup of coffee, but chose water instead? How many times I have resisted the urge to buy some useless sweets at the checkout counter in supermarkets? Countless times. The first few times the decision was hard, but if I kept at it, I would automatically choose healthier over time. I have also relapsed quite a bit, but in so far as I maintain the resolve to do better and choose better, there is hope for me.
And so it is with watching our nutrition. Do you really need to eat that cupcake or meat-pie or drink that soda AFTER your meal? Do you really need to drink a beer or eat junk food every single day? If you need to cut down on carbs to achieve weight loss, can you do without "swallow" or spaghetti for a few days? Determine to hold off for at least two weeks, replace those choices with healthier options and let's see what happens.
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