Kick those health habits: How to give up junk food and get more sleep

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/ Source: TODAY

Most of us have a habit we'd like to change, but there's no magic "one size fits all" solution. So how can you really change those behaviors?

That's the focus of New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin, who joined TODAY Monday to talk tips from her new book "Better Than Before."

We asked TODAY viewers to tell us the habits you most want to change: Over 50% of you said you wanted to give up junk food — sugar, soda, caffeine, cookies, late-night snacking, dessert before bed and more.

Many of you also wanted to get more sleep — whether its because you're staying out too late, catching up on work, or busy binge-watching House of Cards. Here are Rubin's tips for what you can do to break both of these habits:


1. Inconvenience

Make things hard to get to — out of sight, out of mind. It's as easy as making the ice cream a little harder to get to, by hiding it in a knotted bag in the back of your freezer.

Also, think small servings. You're more likely to eat only one of something individually wrapped as opposed to a snack like M&Ms, where you're likely to grab a handful.

2. Abstaining

Sometimes, cold turkey is the best method. Depending on the person, it's better to give up entirely than indulge momentarily.

3. First steps

If late-night snacking is just a matter of oral fixation — you need to have something at a certain time — swap junk food for something else: Replace those Thin Mints with a plate of mints.

Mindless eating usually occurs in times of transition: when you get home from work, before you go to bed, etc. Try brushing your teeth immediately after dinner to avoid continuing to snack.


1. Scheduling and first steps

Set an alarm for the time you want to go to bed — and stick to it.

Get ready for bed earlier. Take your contacts and shoes off, for example, and put your pajamas on right when you get home. This will put you in the mood to go to sleep.

2. Inconvenience

If you're a binge-watcher, this is for you: For those who have televisions in their rooms, don't keep the remote on the nightstand. Keep it in a drawer, closet or on a high shelf so it's inconvenient to reach. "Watching TV to fall asleep" doesn't actually work for most people and before you know it, it's past your bedtime and you're already 3 hours into the DVR.

This article was originally published Mar. 16, 2015 at 8:16 a.m. ET.