How long can it take for me to make healthy eating habits my lifestyle?

As a rule of thumb, people need about three weeks to establish a new behavior pattern and about three months to make it a habit. The exact time frame will vary, depending upon a person’s motivation and the habit. For example, drinking a cup of water every morning is an easier habit to establish compared to doing 100 sit-ups before breakfast.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens

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Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens

In a world of fast food, supersized sodas, and televised temptations, this guide shows how to buck the obesity trend currently in the national spotlight—and have fun doing it. Using a family...
Experts say it takes 21 days to make a habit. Pick 1-2 healthy goals and maintain them for 21 days. Take time to note your successes and the positive differences in your life. It will help you to accept that your new habit is a better way to live, thus making it a lifestyle change that you do not want to lose. Ultimately, lifestyle changes take daily commitment and discipline. Depending on the habit you are trying to change, the timeframe with which it takes to accept the alternative can vary.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Technically, experts say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. However, in 1 day, you can wipe out all the 5 food felons from your kitchen, pantry, and desk, start packing a healthy lunch and snacks for work, and have a healthy and hearty breakfast and dinner. Just make sure you do it again tomorrow.
Dominique Adair
This is a great question, and the short answer is that people respond in very individual ways. For example, if you’ve been having a big dessert every day of your life, it may take some time to get used to having a piece of fruit, or a smaller dessert.

Exercise habits can also take a while to become second nature. I often compare the “feeling” of new lifestyle habits to brushing your teeth with the “wrong hand.” You just have to stick with it, until it feels as natural, or more natural, than the old habits do.

Be patient with yourself and trust that behavior change takes time. Note (and congratulate) the small changes that you are making, because those in time will create larger changes. Dr. Traver makes a good point about the environment as well. It is very hard to stay conscious and healthy with food and activity in an environment some specialists have actually termed  “a toxic food environment.” Stick with it. The old habits did not become habits over night, but the new ones will settle in over time.
Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

Remember that new lifestyle habits don't become permanent overnight or even after twelve weeks. You need to continue to work on them, constantly repeating your new behavior so that your brain eventually accepts this behavior as the way things should be. For something as major as what you are trying to do, it takes far longer than a few weeks to make the changes permanent. It actually takes more like a year or two. And even after that, you are going to need to pay attention for the rest of your life because, unless our culture changes dramatically, you'll find large food portions, tempting, unhealthful food choices, and sedentary jobs will continue to be a part of our life landscape.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.