I talk about this a lot with my nutrition clients. Most people who live in a typical Western society are so busy with their lifestyle that nutrition is no longer a manual decision but simply something done on auto-pilot.
Why is this bad?
If you are on auto-pilot with anything in life, you have given up control. In the case of nutrition, you are at the will of food manufacturers and advertisers. Food is big business, expecially processed food. Just ask any manager at a grocery store about their food sales and you'll see just how much money is spent on food. Processed food is not only cheaper than fresh food, the manufacturer can control how that food interacts in your body.
One of the big goals of a business is to create a repeat customer, food manufacturers can do this by influencing the addictive ingredients in the food they produce. This has a huge impact on your cravings. Often times these ingredients are not natural and cause havoc in our bodies in addition to their addictive nature.
To change this auto-pilot behavior, you'll need to start making manual decisions. The easiest way to do this is creating a step by step plan that will develop into a routine. I know some people balk at having a routine because they don't want to seem like a robot - always doing the same thing everyday.
I understand that concern but here's what is different. If you are on auto-pilot you have very little if any control. When you create a routine based on the manual decisions you decide will bring you the success you want, you are now in total control. You don't have to be a robot about your routine. You create it based on what you want to achieve. The routine can have variety included in it, as long as you are manually deciding what that variety is.
Fact of the matter is, routines work. Find a group of successful people and you'll find the vast majority have routines they follow. Maybe not in all areas of their lives but definitely in the areas they deem important.
If you aren't sure if you are on auto-pilot, you probably are. Take one area of your life and create a few steps you want to take to improve. It could be reading for 15 minutes in the morning followed by 15 minutes of exercise. It could be starting to meal prep your lunches to avoid the trip to the fast food restaurant. Or maybe turning off the tv and unplugging for the last 30 minutes of the day so that you can truly relax before going to bed.
Put a small routine in place and stick to it for several weeks. You'll probably tweak it along the way but don't scrap the whole idea just because it feels off or different. Change is difficult but when you are making the decision to move towards your goals, change is always worth it.