Changing your eating – We have strong habits when it comes to eating. Some are positive (“I always eat breakfast”), while others are negative (“I always clean my plate”). Although many of our dietary habits are formed throughout childhood, it is never too late to make a change.
Short-term weight loss can be achieved by making abrupt, extreme changes to eating patterns, such as eating only cabbage soup. However, such drastic adjustments are neither healthy nor wise, and they are unlikely to succeed in the long run. Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce is a methodical strategy to permanently improving your eating habits.
REFLECT on all of your personal eating behaviors, both good and negative, as well as your common eating triggers.
REPLACE your bad eating habits with better behaviors.
ENSURE that your new, better eating habits are maintained.
Reflect on Changing your eating
- Make a mental note of your eating patterns. For a few days, keep a food journal. Make a list of everything you eat and when you eat it. This will assist you in identifying your habits. You might realize, for example, that you crave a sweet snack to get you through the mid-afternoon energy drop.
2. Make use of a journal to assist you. It’s important to keep track of how you felt when you decided to eat, especially if you ate when you weren’t hungry. Were you exhausted? Are you feeling tense?
On your list, circle the habits that may be causing you to overeat. The following are some of the most common eating behaviors that might lead to weight gain:
Eating too quickly
Keep your plate clean at all times
Not eating when you’re not hungry
Standing up and eating (may lead to eating mindlessly or too quickly)
Dessert is something I always eat.
Meal skipping (or maybe just breakfast)
3. Take a look at the bad eating habits you’ve mentioned. Make sure you’ve recognized all of the triggers that lead to your bad behaviours. Choose a few that you’d like to improve first. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself on the things you’re doing well.
Perhaps you like fruit for dessert and drink low-fat or fat-free milk. These are excellent habits to have! Recognizing your accomplishments will motivate you to make greater adjustments.
4. Review your food diary and make a list of “cues” to become more aware of when and when you’re “triggered” to eat for reasons other than hunger. Take note of how you usually feel at certain times. Eating for non-hunger reasons is frequently prompted by an environmental “cue” or a particular emotional state.
5. Opening the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack item are common triggers for eating when not hungry.
I’m sitting at home, watching TV.
Prior to or following a tense encounter or scenario at work.
Coming home from work and having no idea what to do for supper is a recipe for disaster.
Having a dish prepared “especially for you!” by someone.
A candy bowl on the counter caught my eye as I walked by.
I’m sitting next to the vending machine in the break room.
At the morning staff meeting, seeing a tray of doughnuts.
Every morning, swinging through your favorite drive-through.
You’re bored or tired, and you assume food will help you feel better.
6. On your list, circle the “cues” you face on a daily or monthly basis. While the Thanksgiving holiday may be a trigger for overeating, for the time being, concentrate on the cues you encounter more frequently. You’ll eventually want a strategy for as many eating cues as possible.
For each “cue” you’ve circled, ask yourself the following questions:
Is there anything I can do to get out of the circumstance or escape the cue? This approach is best for cues that do not require the participation of others.
7. Could you, for example, take a different route to work to avoid stopping at a fast food restaurant? Is there a spot in the break room where you may sit that isn’t right next to the vending machine?
8. Is there anything I can do differently that would be healthier for things I can’t avoid? Obviously, you won’t be able to avoid all occasions that trigger your bad eating habits, such as work staff meetings. Consider your options in these instances.
Could you recommend or bring some healthier food or drinks?
You offer to take notes to keep your mind off things?
Sit further away from the food so that grabbing something is more difficult?
Take a nutritious snack before the meeting if you planned ahead?
Substitute new, healthier habits with old, unhealthy ones. When you think about your eating patterns, you could notice that when you dine alone, you eat too quickly. So make a weekly commitment to have a lunch with a coworker or invite a neighbor over for supper once a week. Another technique is to rest your fork between bites.
Also, keep distractions to a minimum, such as watching the news while eating. Distractions like this discourage you from paying attention to how fast and how much you consume.
Changing your eating by slowing down. If you eat too rapidly, you may be tempted to “clear your plate” instead of assessing if your appetite has been satisfied.
Eat just when you’re actually hungry, not when you’re sleepy, anxious, or experiencing another emotion. If you find yourself eating for reasons other than hunger, such as boredom or anxiety, attempt to replace eating with a non-eating activity. You might discover that going for a little stroll or making a phone call to a friend makes you feel better.
To ensure that you eat a healthy, well-balanced meal, plan your meals ahead of time.
ENSURE – Changing your eating
Be patient with yourself while reinforcing your new, healthy habits. It takes time to form habits. It isn’t something that happens over night. When you find yourself indulging in a bad habit, stop immediately and ask yourself,
“Why do I do this?”
What year did I begin doing this?
What adjustments should I make?
Don’t berate yourself or believe that one mistake “blows” an entire day’s worth of good practices. You’ve got this! It’s only a matter of taking one day at a time!
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Vogue Health Team