The difference between New Year’s resolutions that stick and the ones that don’t? They become habits. “Duh,” you’re probably thinking, “If you keep doing something, then it’s habit. That’s literally what ‘habit’ means.” While that’s not wrong, there are tricks to establishing new, healthy habits that stick – and honey can help.

Rule #1 of a New Year’s resolutions is that they have to be specific enough to actually achieve. If your resolution is simply to “be healthy” or “get in shape,” there’s no way to know if you’ve accomplished them – or even if you’re heading in the right direction. Here are three common resolutions, and how you can work toward them with a little help from local honey.

 

If Your Resolution is to Exercise More

In those moments where you could be exercising – first thing in the morning, after work, during lunch break, weekend mornings – you aren’t even thinking about it. It’s generally not a problem of whether you want to work out or not, it’s that you simply have other habits and things taking up your time.

One trick to building an exercise habit is to mentally map out in advance exactly how you want it to go: “I’m going to wake up at 6:00am and not hit snooze. I will put my hair up, put on my good workout shirt, brush my teeth, make coffee, then hit the gym. I’ll start with 15 minutes on the elliptical…” etc. Basically, you need to anticipate the next time you’re going to work out, so that when it arrives, you aren’t having to make every little decision. It’s like you’re already halfway done by the time you start.

Honey can help you build this habit in quite a few ways:

  • Eating a spoonful of honey before you work out gives your body a ready source of fuel when you start moving. Coffee might wake you up, but it won’t fuel your muscles.
  • We’re biologically wired to crave sweets. If you make a point to eat honey before working out, it helps your brain build positive associations with exercise. You’ll start to view it less as a chore and more as a hobby. More on this below.
  • If you’re training for a marathon or triathlon, honey might just be the best thing you can eat mid-exercise. Your body nearly instantly converts to fuel, so you don’t feel like you’re running on empty.

 

If Your Resolution is to Cut Back on Sugar or Processed Foods

Sugar is a comfort food, often used to cope with stress, but it’s also a ritual for many people. They always put it in their coffee. They always have dessert with dinner. They always get soda at the movies. The same is also true of many processed foods like snacks and sweets.

To cut back on sugar, you can try just saying, “I won’t eat sugar anymore.” Good luck with that. What’s more likely to work is identifying what your rituals are and using them as starting points for new, healthier habits.

Raw & unfiltered honey is just about the easiest thing to replace your sugary habits with because it 1) tastes sweet and 2) tastes sweeter than sugar, so you can get your fix with fewer calories. Try having a spoonful of honey before you would normally have sugar – on the way to the movie theater, before drinking coffee, etc. – and see how much your craving subsides.

 

If Your Resolution is to Quit a Bad Habit

Building on the point above, bad habits are nothing more than rituals. There’s always a trigger that leads to a craving and then a habitual response. Instead of just trying to eliminate the response – binge eating, doomscrolling, procrastinating – focus on the trigger. Maybe it’s boredom. Or stress. Or uncertainty. Or an email from your boss. Regardless, this trigger is your chance to fix a bad habit and replace it with a good one, all at once.

Once you identify the trigger, and there might be several, you’ll want to resolve it by heading it off. You have to plan your response in advance, stepping back and thinking about what it’s going to be like when the trigger arises. And your response? It can be a lot of different things, but it’s best if it’s simple enough to turn into a habit: taking a deep breath, going for a walk, or even eating a spoonful of honey.

No, honey won’t solve all your problems, but it can be a particularly potent replacement for a bad habit. Ultimately, what you need to break a habit is to pause and refocus before jumping to your habitual response, and honey may or may not help with that. But it does have the advantage of being instantly gratifying. Either way, once you realize you can replace old habits with new ones, it might just be the start of something sweet.