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Friction in the Kitchen

Forming good habits can be a challenging task, but it is definitely worth the effort. Let’s talk specifically about habits related to nutrition.

Author James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits” discusses using "friction" in order to help or hinder your habits. For a positive habit, you want to make the process as easy as possible. Identifying and removing barriers is the key. If you are trying to break a negative habit, introducing friction to the process will make it more difficult.

The author also outlines Four Laws of Behavior Change that I have found useful in order to create positive nutritional habits. And on the flip side, these laws also show how to break negative habits associated with food.


Make it OBVIOUS - keep nutrient-dense food visible as soon as you open the fridge or walk into the pantry. Have plenty of options so you don’t get bored with one type of food.

Make it ATTRACTIVE - think of foods that you enjoy and that are nutritionally sound. I love fresh berries and having them on my plate is something I love to see.

Make it EASY - Remove friction by prepping your meals in advance. That will help to alleviate the stress of figuring out what to cook each day. If you can’t prep all of it, at least prep the protein so you don’t have to think about that after a long day of work.

Make it SATISFYING - Don’t punish yourself by eating foods that you do not enjoy. Be sure to have meals that are satisfying so you don’t feel deprived.


Make it INVISIBLE - If you have other people in your home who would protest to not having junk food, then keep that food somewhere out of your sight. One idea is investing in an opaque container to store these items in.

Make it UNATTRACTIVE - If you must buy foods that aren’t healthy, purchase ones that you do not enjoy personally or that would not be enticing to you.

Make it DIFFICULT - Create friction by keeping these foods somewhere that isn’t easy to get to and that would take time to access. (Tell your family member to hide them!)

Make it UNSATISFYING - Concentrate on how these foods are less important than your goal of getting into better health. That moment of fleeting taste in your mouth is not as amazing as seeing that dream number on the scale.

Here are some tips that I have found that help me to form good habits:

1. Start small: Trying to make a drastic change in your behavior all at once can be overwhelming. Instead, start with a small habit that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.

2. Be specific: Make your habit specific and measurable. For example, instead of saying "I want to exercise more," say "I want to go for a 30-minute walk every day."

3. Set goals: Set realistic goals for yourself and track your progress. This will help you stay motivated and on track.

4. Make it a routine: Try to do your habit at the same time every day to make it a routine. This will help it become a natural part of your day.

5. Eliminate distractions: Identify any distractions that might prevent you from forming your habit and eliminate them. For example, if you want to read more, turn off your phone and find a quiet place to read.

6. Reward yourself: Celebrate your successes and reward yourself for sticking to your habit. This will help reinforce the behavior and make it more likely to stick. (Just don’t reward yourself with high-calorie, low-nutrition treats!)

7. Be patient: Forming a new habit takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and don't get discouraged if you have setbacks.

Remember, forming positive habits is a gradual process and requires consistent effort. (It typically takes a minimum of 21 days to develop a new habit!) With time and persistence, you can develop habits that will help you achieve your goals and improve your life.

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