Improving Your Eating Habits: Many of us have acquired habits when it comes to eating. Some are healthy (“I usually eat fruit for dessert”), while others are unhealthy (“I always treat myself with a sweet drink after work”). It’s never too late to change your eating habits, even if you’ve been doing so for years.
Short-term weight loss can be achieved by making drastic, drastic adjustments, 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. Permanently altering your eating habits necessitates a deliberate strategy that includes reflection, replacement, and reinforcement. Let’s start a path of improving your eating habits.
• REFLECT on all of your eating behaviors, both good and poor, as well as your regular eating triggers.
• SUBSTITUTE HEALTHY Eating Habits with Unhealthy Eating Habits.
• ENSURE that your new, better-eating habits are maintained.
• Make a list of everything you eat and drink. For a few days, keep a food and beverage journal. Make a list of everything you eat and drink, including sugary beverages and alcoholic beverages. Make a note of when you ate or drank the item. This will assist you in identifying your behaviors. You could realize, for example, that you crave a sugary snack to help you through the mid-afternoon energy drop. Use to assist. 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?
• Draw attention to the habits on your list that might be causing you to overeat. o Eating too rapidly o Always clearing your plate o Eating when not hungry o Eating when standing up are all common eating behaviors that might contribute to weight gain (may lead to eating mindlessly or too quickly) Let’s start a path of improving your eating habits.
- Indulging in desserts all of the time o Forgetting to eat meals (or maybe just breakfast)
- Look at the unhealthy eating habits you’ve underlined Make sure you’ve identified all of the triggers that lead to your bad habits. Choose a few that you’d want 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. Let’s start a path of improving your eating habits.
Create a list of “cues” by going through your food journal to see 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 specific emotional state. The following are common reasons why people eat when they aren’t hungry:
- o See your favorite snack food when you open the cabinet.
- o Sitting in front of the television at home.
- o Before or after a tense work meeting or circumstance.
- o Not knowing what to do for dinner when you get home from work.
- o Having a portion of food prepared “especially for you!” by someone.
- o Passing by a candy dish on the kitchen counter.
- o Sitting next to the vending machine in the break room.
- o At the morning staff meeting, saw a dish of doughnuts.
- o Every morning, swinging through your favorite drive-through.
- o You’re bored or tired and think food will help you feel better.
- • On your list, circle the “cues” you deal with 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 signals 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 excellent for cues that do not require the participation of others. Could you, for example, take an alternative 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?
Can I do something different that is healthier for things I can’t avoid? You can’t avoid every event that triggers your bad eating habits, such as work staff meetings. Consider your alternatives in these instances. Could you recommend or bring some healthier food or drinks? Could you volunteer to take notes to keep your mind off things? Could you sit further away from the food so that grabbing something is more difficult? Could you make a nutritious snack and consume it before the meeting? Let’s start a path of improving your eating habits.
- Replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy 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 lunch with a coworker or to invite a neighbor over for supper one night 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. Let’s start a path of improving your eating habits.
- Eat more slowly. You may “clear your plate” instead of paying attention to whether your hunger is satisfied if you eat too rapidly.
- Eat only when you’re truly hungry instead of when you’re weary, nervous, or experiencing a different emotion than hunger If you find yourself eating for reasons other than hunger, such as boredom or worry, 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.
- Plan meals ahead of time to make sure you have a nutritious, well-balanced dinner
- Reinforce your new, healthy habits and be patient with yourself. Habits take time to develop. It doesn’t happen overnight. When you do find yourself engaging in an unhealthy habit, stop as quickly as possible and ask yourself: Why do I do this? When did I start doing this? What changes do I need to make? Be careful not to berate yourself or think that one mistake “blows” a whole day’s worth of healthy habits. You can do it! It just takes one day at a time! Let’s start a path of improving your eating habits.
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