How to change your food habits?
Do you know you need to eat better, do you know what you should be eating but still don’t.
Do you feel that despite your best intentions life and stuff seem to derail or seemingly sabotage your efforts?
Have you wondered why?
Read more about what you need to know to begin your journey of changing your food habits.
We know there are multiple factors that influence our food choices.
But did you know?
- It is estimated that as much as 40% of what we do day-to-day is driven by habit rather than active day decisions, and yes this includes food choices.
Let me explain. There is a term called automaticity. It means we do things without having to actively think about them. The basal ganglia is found deep in the older more primitive part of our brains. It is involved in a form of learning that involves a stimulus and a response. It means we learn to respond to a trigger (stimulus) with a specific behaviour.
Which is in the scheme of things is a good thing. Humans are incredibly complex; we have eleven major body systems running 24 hours a day. So the brain looks for ways of being more efficient, to be able to ‘dial down as it where’. One of these ways is through creating habits.
However it is a two-edged sword, habits can work for us but also against us. Food habits are a good example. For example, your trigger may be fatigue, and your habit behaviour may be to reach for the biscuit jar. You know you get short temporary relief but find it does not in relieve the fatigue, in fact it makes it worse and sends you back for another sugar hit. You are left feeling frustrated and annoyed because you promised yourself you would stop eating sweet biscuits. It may even have you searching for the latest diet in vogue even though you know none have ever delivered you the long-term results you yearn for. Sound familiar?
I promote the concept of mindful eating.
- Mindful eating promotes active decisions as to why, when, how and if of food choices. The aim is to increase our awareness of what, why and how we eat.
We can all (me included) make food choices or eat without active thought, we call this mindless eating. If our food habits are generally pretty good, we are unlikely to have an issue. However if we have poor and unhealthy food habits it will undermine our desire for good health.
So what do you do? A good place to start is by keeping a food diary. A food diary requires you to write down what you eat and allows you to develop awareness of your food and eating habits. Sound too simple?
Did you know?
- Those who keep food diaries (real-time) are more successful in changing and improving their food choices and eating habits.
- Keeping a food diary can be for some a cornerstone habit, a small habit we adopt that leads to other small habit change that over time leads to significant habit change.
- People under-estimate anywhere from 20-50% how much food they eat. Writing it down gives you the facts in black and white.
- A food diary provides you with a system for thinking about food and the food choices you make.
And it is free easy strategy that anyone can adopt. I will not pretend with you that food habits are easy to change and that they all change overnight. It is a journey that requires belief in your ability to change, willpower and persistence. However a food diary has been shown to be an important and powerful cornerstone habit, that start a process of change and transformation.
Anytime is a good time to do this, however I particularly like change of seasons. Transition from season to season generally means we change foods, so it is a good time to take stock of what, why and how you are eating.
I encourage you to keep a food diary for a week and see what you discover. This could be your first step toward better eating habits and improved health. Good luck.
If you would like to chat more about food habits or explore how to change them I would love to hear from you.