How Long Does it Take to Create Healthy Eating Habits? (Tip: It’s not 21 days!)


It’s no lie that abs are made in the kitchen and maintaining healthy eating habits is key to a healthy lifestyle. So why is it so hard to stick to these healthy new eating habits? Science says… it takes time. That’s why YouFit’s in-house EatLove dietitian Ale Zozos encourages our members to think “long-term” when it comes to creating healthy eating habits. 

What Scientists Say About Starting New Habits

Don’t expect to create a lasting habit after only 21 days. For most people, that’s just not enough time. In a groundbreaking study Dr. Phillipa Lally, Senior Research Fellow in the Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health at University College London, conducted a study with 96 people who were interested in forming a new habit. All 96 participants were monitored for 12 weeks and the results showed an average of 66 days to solidify a new habit. By this time, the average participant said their new habit felt “hard not to do” and they could do it “without thinking.” 

“Whenever we start something new, like a new diet, if you can’t do it for the rest of your life, throw it out the window,” says Ale Zozos. If you can’t stick to your eating habits for the long term, it’s not the diet for you.

Tips to Create Healthy Eating Habits

Dietitian Ale Zozos suggests a few key strategies for making new healthy eating habits stick for the long term: 

  • Eat Whole Foods

“It doesn’t matter what your goals are. Adding wholesome nutritious foods to your diet is going to be the best way to get there,” explains Ale Zozos in the YouFit Gyms x EatLove Facebook Group FREE for members and non-members. Whole foods are food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances. Whole foods keep you fuller longer, supply you with the energy you need to keep active throughout the day, and help protect the body against chronic disease.

“Wholesome nutritious foods are going to look like plants. And that’s not just fruits and vegetables. That’s whole grains, beans, legumes, oatmeal, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, and more. ”

  • Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals is not the answer to quicker results. It may give you the short-term effects you are looking for, but remember if it’s not long-term, if you can’t do it forever, it never really worked. Skipping meals or being in an extreme calorie deficit can actually lead to weight gain. 

You’ll find much greater success eating a healthy dose of calories (comprised of balanced meals and snacks) and focusing on micro deficits of 200- 350 calories a day. These calorie deficits can be achieved just by adding a 25 min walk into your day, or cutting out a snack after dinner and can help you lose a half pound to one pound a week. 

  • Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water! Staying hydrated is vital to your overall health. Benefits of staying hydrated include:

  • More energy
  • Normalizing blood pressure
  • Decreased joint pain
  • Healthier heart
  • Improved brain function (dehydration can affect your memory, mood, and concentration). 

But how much water should you drink? Well, that number is different for everyone and depends on your overall body weight and level of activity. To calculate how many ounces of water you should drink daily: take your weight, divide it by 2.2, then multiply by 25. If you are very active and sweat a lot throughout the day, multiply it by 30. 

  • Pick One Habit and Focus 

If you want to create healthy eating habits that last long-term, you have to start small. Focus on one habit – add more whole foods to your diet OR eat breakfast OR increase your water intake. Focus on ONE habit for the week. Then introduce a new habit to your to-do list. 

The Fit Won’t Quit Challenge is the tool you need to make a lasting change.

The YouFit Gyms “Fit Won’t Quit” 90-Day Challenge is here, to help you start – and stay on – a path that leads you to your very best self. The one with plenty of energy, a strong body, and the encouragement you need to feel good every day. With access to our personal trainers, in-house EatLove dietitian Ale Zozos, and mindset coach Petra Kolber you can have all that, and we can help! 

Register for the “Fit Won’t Quit” 90-Day challenge and you’ll get:

  • Personalized recipes from EatLove for challenge participants that promote a balanced diet
  • Suggestions for meal planning and healthy eating
  • Recommendations for navigating the grocery store on a budget
  • Tips from EatLove experts on how to enjoy holiday food and stay on track

And that’s only ONE PART of starting the healthy new life you’ve always dreamed of. With the “Fit Won’t Quit” challenge, YouFit takes a 360 approach to wellness with a challenge that offers fitness, nutrition, and motivational support. All participants get access to:

  • Small group classes with a personal trainer. Unlimited access to our premium HIIT+ class designed to build lean muscle mass and get results fast!
  • Motivation. Weekly LIVE webinars and online Q&As with Wellness & Mental Health Coach, Petra Kolber
  • Fitness Advice. Exclusive workout guides, tips and specialized plans devised by YouFit trainers to keep you motivated throughout the course of the challenge.
  • Access to Any YouFit Gym. Your Premium+ challenge membership gets you unlimited access to ANY YouFit gym  
  • Nutrition Coaching. Access to the EatLove app for meal planning and nutrition support designed by registered dietitians.

The Challenge: 

The Challenge – if you choose to accept it – is to check-in 3x a week for a workout at your local YouFit every week from September 1st – November 30th. That’s a total of 90 days! The reward? A custom YouFit Fit Won’t Quit T-Shirt, plus the added benefits of 90 days of consistency. 

Register for the Fit Won’t Quit 90-Day Challenge Now!

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