Eat half a fruit a day
By Ari Snaevarsson, Features Editor
Habituation leads to change
There is a pervasive idea that habit and lifestyle changes need to be big, hefty goals, or else they are not worth setting. The cliche axiom of “shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you will land among the stars” comes to mind.
On the contrary, this is actually how we destine ourselves to fail in any endeavor that we take on. Meaningful change is rarely the product of singular moments of epiphany in which we decide “enough is enough” and initiate some lifestyle overhaul. Change comes from habituation. That is it; not from building inspiring habits, building lots of habits, or devising the most optimal organizational system. It comes from repetition and then acclimation to the new, routine habits you have set.
Eat half a fruit a day
This brings me to my tip for anyone looking to start making impactful changes in their diet: eat half a fruit a day. This is not some esoteric Buddhist proverb; I am literally suggesting you eat half of a fruit each day. Why?
Exclusivity versus inclusivity
Firstly, one major problem with healthy eating goals is that people develop an exclusive, rather than inclusive, mindset. The tendency is to think that our current diet is bad, and so any healthful changes we can make must therefore involve quitting some bad habit(s).
Certainly, most of us have some lousy dietary habits we could afford to kick. However, this is generally an unsustainable approach, because it is a more advanced type of habit change that necessitates we fill in the void previously occupied by said bad habit with something else.
Moreover, it can lead to a dangerous mindset that is at best self-defeating and at worst bordering on ascetic. That is, the mindset that progress is a function of how well we can discipline and punish ourselves. By aiming to eat half of a fruit each day, you are setting out to actively establish a positive habit rather than quit a negative one.
Set goals that are too easy
Secondly, another endemic problem is the propensity to shoot for unrealistic goals. And the reality is, most people shoot for unrealistic goals in their diet, even if the goal itself seems doable and straightforward in nature.
The best way to ensure that you will stick to this change is to opt for what author Leo Babauta calls the minimum viable habit — the smallest degree of habit change possible that will still lead to success. I have been doing this myself with some habit changes as of lately, and I can speak to the efficacy of it. Something powerful happens when you consistently complete a task you set out for yourself, as you start to develop what Jerry Seinfeld calls the “chain.” What happens is that you progress past the stage of fantasizing what it would be like to, for example, be someone who eats a really healthy diet and resists junk food, into the realm of realistic, observable habit formation. All of a sudden, you see that these elusive diet goals everyone laments and dismisses as “too hard” are entirely within your grasp!
This shift in paradigm is unfathomably more important to not only your journey in healthy living but your personal growth than is a starry-eyed “wouldn’t it be nice”-type goal that is never actually brought to fruition. The best of intentions are useless without action.
Even if aiming to eat only half of a fruit each day sounds like way too easy of a goal, start with this. You can always increase it to one fruit once you have followed through for a week or so.