14 Tips to Create Healthy Habits (Not Restrictions!)

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by Alena Schowalter
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Want to change your life for the better? Here are our top tips to create healthy habits, not restrictions, to help you stick to new goals and routines.

We’ve all been there: Trying to give up old habits that aren’t good for us and establishing new and more healthy ones.

No matter if it’s the new year or you’ve just grown sick and tired of following the same unhealthy routines day in and day out, at some point, you need to take action!

Unfortunately, most of the time, these new habits just don’t seem to stick and we find ourselves reaching for the same old bag of chips, skipping more and more gym days or neglecting our studies.

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In this article, we want to share approachable tips for how to create healthy habits — no restrictions, no beating-yourself-up.

From small steps to becoming healthier each day to losing weight effortlessly, mindful eatingstaying on a budget or going vegan — everyone’s goals look a bit different.

Forming new habits is not done overnight and while we need that initial motivation to get started, it’s not something we can rely on for good!

Enjoy the following actionable steps to success.

How to create healthy habits (not restrictions!)

Here are our top tips for you to become a successful habit changer. No need to follow all of them, just pick what you think is most likely going to help you right now.

Start small

Set the bar incredibly low to begin with. If big goals hinder you from doing anything at all, start smaller! Getting started is crucial and you can build momentum from there.

If you’re trying to incorporate more movement into your daily life to become fitter, you might start out by doing 5 push-ups or 1 minute of cardio work. Don’t try to run a marathon right off the bat.

Setting goals that are just downright unrealistic and too far away from our status quo oftentimes proves to be our downfall. We feel like a failure because we don’t live up to our outrageously high standards or surrender altogether as the mountain is just too big to climb.

Don’t get caught up in this all-or-nothing mentality.

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Set realistic expectations

Would you like to lose 50 pounds or run a marathon? Well, that’s certainly not going to happen overnight, right?

Instead, aim to lose one pound — every week. Aim to run one mile — every day.

Since you want to stay healthy, active and happy in the long run, you need to make it very approachable and fun!

That way, you can check off every day what you successfully did to reach your long-term goal, giving you a motivational boost each time.

Let go of perfection

Don’t go into this habit change experiment thinking that you will follow your own plan 100% of the time.

Likewise, even though you might have seen a person who motivated you to start creating healthy habits, you might never achieve what they have achieved!

Perfection is the enemy of progress and nothing can ever be truly perfect. You can skip a day of working out and you can have some delicious ice cream during a hot summer day — if you don’t believe in the “all or nothing” mindset, then these exceptions can be part of your lifestyle.

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Focus on what works

Especially when we’re exhausted, tired or hungry, we tend to only see the negatives in our lives.

The day we didn’t eat our pre-made lunch and went to a restaurant instead, when we were too tired to go to the gym or when we lost our nerves again.

Although this is totally human, try to shift your mindset towards everything you have already achieved!

Go through your plan or calendar and see how many times you checked off what you intended to do — perhaps you can even notice a pattern, i.e. on which days or time of day it was easier for you to follow through.

Remember your why

Wanting to create healthy habits probably didn’t come from nowhere — you must have seen a video or read an article about other people creating wonderful routines and lifestyles.

What was it about that story that grabbed your attention and sparked your motivation?

This deeper look behind just wanting to lose weight or be more productive helps you to stay connected with your true longing for a happier life.

Write down your personal reasons for creating healthy habits and re-read them on a regular basis!

Plan for success

Whether you think you can or you can’t do something, you are probably going to prove it to yourself. This mens, focus on what you will actually be able to accomplish and plan for success!

Keep your mind focused on what you can achieve, write it down, and schedule it in your planner if you can.

This can be applied to anything from healthy snacks to one brisk walk per day or regularly checking in with your peer!

We personally love meal planning which makes following a healthy diet so easy.

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Make a schedule

Try to be very clear about what you want to achieve and don’t make vague statements like “I’m going to work out more” or “I’m going to eat healthier”.

What exactly are you going to do, when, how and where?

Your answers could be something like “Every Monday at 7 AM, I will go for a 20 minute run in the park.” or “Every night, I’m trying a new plant-based bowl for dinner.”

Try sticking to your schedule instead of achieving certain results. They will inevitably follow if you’re persistent with your practice. 

It won’t always be possible to live up to your schedule, but that’s fine as long as you manage to consistently get back on track.

Replace old habits

Swapping out habits can be more effective than just banishing the unwanted ones. Every habit follows the same pattern. 

Firstly, there’s the cue, then the behavior that addresses the cue, and eventually the reward.

Throughout the day, try to raise awareness of the cues that trigger your unwanted behaviors. Then, while leaving the cue and reward in place, try to think of an action that’s more beneficial to you and could substitute the old behavior.

Let’s say you come home tired from work and have a beer to relax your mind. In this case, being tired after a long day of work is the cue and relaxation is the reward.

Leave these untouched and only replace the action of drinking the beer. How about some homemade lemonade or juice?

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Be honest with yourself

If something is just not working after a while, be honest with yourself and see whether you didn’t set the bar low enough — or perhaps, way too low to even be motivated?

Did you want to change everything at once or did you choose the wrong goal?

Even though it’s a good idea to focus on what’s working, we shouldn’t neglect what is not working for us.

That’s okay, just learn from that, adjust, and keep moving forward.

Stay flexible & don’t restrict

If we want to create healthy habits, not restrictions, we need to let go of perfection and the “good” and “bad” mentality.

If your goal is to make healthier eating choices but you’re stuck at a party or in a restaurant, just look for the most viable option.

Just go for the next best thing and instead of grabbing the chicken wings or greasy fries, see if there’s something resembling vegetables, bread, potatoes or fruit.

Or how about getting the fries but with a side of salad? Still a step in the right direction!

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Set up your environment

Your environment determines your success almost as much as your mindset and goal! Therefore, we suggest that you get rid of as many triggers as possible.

If you want to make healthier food choices but your house is full of junk food, you’re going to have such a hard time not eating it!

Instead, fill up your kitchen with healthy staple foods, have filling snacks around or put your running shoes right next to the front door so that you’re almost tripping over them.

There are almost no boundaries for your creativity when it comes to fixing your environment.

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Make a commitment

Creating healthy habits takes at least a few weeks until they feel like second nature and are easy to maintain — so, give it at least a good 3 weeks or 30 days during which you’ll commit to sticking to what you planned for yourself.

We created a 7-day vegan challenge that can get you started if eating plant-based is your goal.

It’s also a good idea to tell your peers about your plan which creates an accountability system and extra support!

Maybe someone even wants to join you in your endeavors or offers some assistance.

Reward yourself

Did you successfully go dairy-free for a week or a month? Were you able to implement zero waste principles or did you follow your 1-week meal plan to the T? 

Well, now is the time to pat yourself on the back and reward yourself (in a healthy way if possible).

Perhaps there’s been this book you’ve been wanting to read or you’d love a slice of homemade vegan cake — go for it!

Train your brain to want to do more of what it is later rewarded for. Habits that require continuous efforts aren’t easy to maintain but you have made it possible!

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Create habits & routines

We personally love having routines we can stick to that make following healthy habits so easy and fun!

Our brain automatically goes to oatmeal with almond milk coffee in the morning or to veggie stir-fry at night.

Because we work with a simple evergreen grocery list, we buy the same foods most of the time and always go for a walk together in the evening to talk about what happened that day.

In some way, everyone’s life consists of routines the moment they wake up and start acting automatically!

The key is to make habits and routines work for us instead of against us.

Let’s create healthy habits

It takes some time to strengthen new healthy habits, but with these tips on hand, you should be well on your way.

Be gentle with yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you slip, it happens to all of us. It’s what makes us human after all.

The important thing is to always get back on track. Start improving small areas of your life and expand from there.

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What are you most struggling with when it comes to unwanted habits? Which of these tips are you most likely to implement? Let us know in the comments below and Pin this article here.

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Hi, I'm Alena Schowalter — a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with my husband, I founded nutriciously in 2015 and have been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages toward a healthy plant-based diet. I enjoy discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature, and creating new recipes. Read more about us here.


  1. These are great tips. I especially like the one about looking out for cues that trigger our bad behaviours, it’s good to be aware of these. Thanks :)

  2. It is much easy to say than done when it comes to making healthy habits. It is very hard to do so because you can never tell yourself to stop doing something you are used to. It can be learned but you must always have a big amount of patience.


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