Knowing what to eat isn’t enough to change eating habits. Agree?
And this is why I am sharing the missing pieces of the eating jigsaw puzzle in this post.
Knowing what to eat isn’t enough
Having tried multiple diets and programs myself before I created a mindful eating approach, and staying up to date with nutrition research,
I know why knowledge about food and health isn’t enough to change how we eat.
I also receive numerous inquiries about the merits of different diets,
and in my eating habit profile calls with women, a request for a meal plan is soon replaced by,
“I actually know what to eat, but I am not eating it.”
Knowing what to eat is a part of the jigsaw puzzle, but not the whole picture.
Let’s now take a look at the other pieces of the puzzle.
Supporting healthier eating
Support for healthier eating includes having a range of nourishing foods at hand. Having a weekly menu plan, or some meals prepared ahead of time are both beneficial.
Support also includes setting time aside for your new way of eating e.g. planning meals, shopping, sitting down to eat, and having a mindful eating practice.
Asking for support from family and friends is also key. This doesn’t mean that they will necessarily want to join you on your new eating adventure though!
You may also benefit from guidance from your healthcare practitioner, and online supports such as the Eating for You community and courses.
Clear reasons to change
Motivation comes from our personal reasons for changing our eating habits, and being clear on what we will gain.
What is your reason to change?
- Have more energy
- Feel stronger and fitter
- Keep up with my grandchildren
- Live longer
- Think more clearly
- Reduce symptoms of menopause
- Support diabetes
Everyone’s reason to change is different.
And your reason has to be meaningful to you, and only you.
Putting motivation into action
We can be clear about why we want to change eating habits, but we have to do something different for the change to occur.
Being over-zealous with our motivation can become overwhelming so the Eating for You approach encourages small doable steps, taken one at a time, rather than a huge goal, and trying to make multiple changes at once.
What is one thing that you can do today to change how you eat?
Re-thinking food choices
The mind-body connection is strong.
How we think, we act.
So how do you think and feel about the changes you intend to make to your food choices?
I receive many inquiries about weight loss. And for many women body weight has been a battle they have fought and lost for decades.
I share this not to dishearten you, but to give an example of how you may have to reframe your thoughts about yourself and food.
You can think:
“I have tried so many times to lose weight, why should I bother? I am no good at dieting. I am in a hopeless situation.”
Or you can think:
“It is true, I have tried many ways to lose weight. This time, rather than focus on food and the number on the scales, I am going try a new approach and tackle one eating habit at a time.”
The practice of mindful eating removes the judgment about food and the choices we make.
It focuses you on each decision you make about food, rather than the result of weight loss.
But research shows that mindful eating helps with attaining healthy body weight.
By focusing on each eating moment, you take the pressure off yourself to achieve 10, 20, 30+ kg of weight loss.
Life happens, the best intentions and even mindful eating practices can be put aside.
Accepting that this will happen is so important to long term success.
Research suggests that changing a habit takes on average 66 days to occur, but anywhere from 18 to 254 days.
By focusing on just one habit, you can identify it’s origins.
Ask, “Why do I have this habit?”
Let’s take emotional eating habits as an example.
Emotional eating habits may form because you have a long term association with food as a source of comfort. This may have started in your childhood.
Or you may find confrontation in relationships difficult, and because you were never taught to express your feelings confidently, you reached for food to soothe your stress.
Once you have identified the cause or origin of your habit, you can then choose the best solution to overcome it.
Practicing and being patient
Taking a self-compassionate approach supports the change.
This is different from making excuses.
It is being able to reflect on your food choices and say, “Well that didn’t work, what can I do next time?”
“Beating yourself up” for eating too much chocolate or skipping lunch and overeating at dinner, doesn’t help.
It is important to remember that eating is a complex process – we have years of habits, thoughts, and beliefs about food and ourselves.
Restrictive diets have made, what should be a simple, enjoyable, and nourishing activity, into something we blame ourselves for.
Of course, you don’t know how to eat, because diets have disconnected you from your innate ability to choose what nourishes you.
So be kind and patient with yourself as you reconnect with food and your natural pattern of eating.
All of the pieces of the puzzle
Now you can see, why knowing what to eat isn’t enough.
We have to consider:
- Supporting healthier eating
- Knowing what to eat
- Clear reasons to change
- Putting motivation into action
- Re-thinking food choices
- Overcoming barriers
- Practicing and being patient
If you would like to start working with your full picture of eating, one piece at a time, then send me an email or you might like to consider our Spring Mindful Eating Program.
9 Sources of Motivation to Change Eating Habits. This blog is offered in audio too. Click here.