Your eating habits

How do you change your eating habits?

It is not by coincidence that many children prefer french fries in stead of carrots. If a child is presented with unhealthy food, our brain remembers this and how that particular food item tasted like. It is not in the human nature to explore and find new tastes. We stick to what is known. This means that if a child, or an adult, eats unhealthy food often, the body will consider this safe, even if it is not healthy.
 
We have to eat healthy food many times before we create positive associations to it. When we discover the advantages with healthy food and how it makes our body and mind healthier, our preferences change.
 
This is why changing your eating habits and pattern takes time.
 
Scientists have identified 5 important factors that increase our chance of succesfully becoming more healthy.
 
1. Discipline: Controlling the amount of food you eat, how often and what, are all a lot easier if you have a plan. Getting advice from a qualified specialist and creating a meal plan will strengthen your discipline. Thinking about what you want the most; that piece of chocolate cake, or, to reduce your blood pressure, can help you think about your long term goals and control those 10 minutes after dinner sweet tooth - urges.
 
2. Knowledge: We know what food not to eat, and that vegetables are good for us, but do we actually know why? Increasing the awareness and understanding of the knowledge we already have can help us change our diet and stick to it.
 
3. Everyday stress: Remembering to eat healthy can be challenging when we have a busy job, and have to grocery shop, cook, pick up the kids, drop them off, and so on. The key is to plan ahead. Make a dinner plan for the whole week and go grocery shop 1-2 times a week. It is a lot easier to make the healthy choices when you have everything in your fridge already. 
 
4. Negotiation with family: Changing your diet, whether it is because you want to loose weight, or you have a specific condition, will involve your family as well. They may or may not be as motivated as you are, and this can create some extra challenges and/or stress on you. To make your diet change easier, knowledge, communication and dialogue within the family, as well as with health consultants, will increase your chance of succeeding.
 
5. Social Gatherings: In a prosess of lifestyle and diet change, you might have a plan for what you eat at home. But when it comes to birthday parties and other celebrations, you might feel some loss of control. Firstly, the other guests will have opinions about your diet restrictions and are not afraid to say it out loud. Secondly, hosts might be offended when you don't want to eat what they have prepared. One strategy is to eat only a little bit of the unhealthy food, and more of other, healthier alternatives. Going for a long run or walk the same day will also increase your energy requirements. Don't starve yourself all day just because you are going to eat cake later. You will only end up eating a lot more.

- I am a nutritionist and personal trainer, dedicated to improve other peoples health. Do not hesitate writing me an email asking your diet and training related questions.

References:

 

M Vanstone, M Giacomini, A Smith, F Brundisini, D DeJean,
S Winsor (2013): How Diet Modification Challenges Are Magnified in Vulnerable or Marginalized People With Diabetes and Heart Disease: A Systematic Review and Qualitative MetaSynthesis. Ontario Health Technology Assessment Series; Vol. 13: No. 14, pp. 1–40, September.