Many of us only dream of eating healthily for the rest of our lives. Instead, we just diet, lose weight, and then resume our old dietary habits only to gain weight again. According to many experts, the key to breaking this cycle is to establish good eating habits that will last a lifetime. But how can you do that? Isn’t healthy eating boring and bland? How can you eat like that for the rest of your life?

The good news is, healthy foods are not necessarily bland or boring, and there are things you can do to incorporate healthy eating into your daily routine. Once something becomes habit, it tends to become easier – it’s almost like you’re on auto-pilot. Here are some ideas for getting into the healthy eating groove.

1. Grocery lists

You can’t eat unhealthy food at home if you don’t buy it first! When you make out your grocery list with healthy eating in mind, consider the following tips.

* Whole foods are generally considered best for those who want to maintain a healthy weight. Whole foods do not have additives, preservatives, and other dubious substances that may thwart your weight-loss efforts (or even promote weight gain). Also, whole foods require preparation, and preparation burns calories.

* Divide your grocery list into categories, with fresh produce being the biggest section and the first one at the top of your list. Make your list according to how the store’s items are arranged so that your shopping will be easier and faster. Making categories will help you see what kinds of foods you tend to buy, and what kinds to focus on.

If you find yourself needing a “sweets” or “chips” section on your list, then you might want to re-think that category, or replace it with something else (such as “nuts” or “granola”).

2. Plan meals

When making out your grocery list, do so according to pre-planned meals. It seems like a lot of unnecessary calories get consumed when we throw together convenience foods at the last minute (like hot dogs, lunch meat, frozen meals, or fatty ground beef). Perhaps you could spend a few minutes each week writing down the meals for the upcoming week, and once you get into the habit of coordinating the list and healthy meals it will seem almost effortless.

3. Restaurants

If you’re trying to establish healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime, restaurant eating has to be considered. After all, few people never eat in restaurants. One first step you might take is to limit how many meals you eat in restaurants each week or month.

If you eat out every day, cut back gradually to a few times a week, then maybe to once a week. If you do want or need to eat out more often, take a look at the calories and unhealthy fats in the foods you order. Most restaurants will provide this information for you, and don’t be afraid to ask or look for healthier choices.