Every second person that walks through my practice wants to lose some weight, some have even higher goals of weight loss. At the end it does not really matter how much weight a person wants to lose, its about losing that weight.
There are bad habits around eating and food that some have even become a norm around our society, for example eating fast. These bad food/eating habits could be contributing to poor health and even your weight problems.
Before starting on a process to change these habits, you need to evaluate your habits and why they persist.
The saying is: “that you will only persist in a behavior if the reward is worthwhile “
Ask yourself, what reward do you get from coming home to raid the fridge, or snacking in front of the TV after supper or habitually eating second portions, seeing that they are all destructive to your attempts to lose weight?
The reward might be that food, and the act of eating will give you pleasure, instant gratification, and emotional as well as stress relief from a hard working day.
The key is to get the same rewards such as pleasure, stress and emotional relief from more constructive positive pleasurable activities and tools that will eventually make you feel good about yourself and your appearance and it is definitely not food.
Start by identifying the triggers (time, place, people, and emotions) that trigger impulsive eating and replace the old habit with a new habit. With perseverance and time the old habit will lose its grip as the two habits cannot co-exist. Make a list of non-eating activities that you enjoy doing. When something triggers impulsive eating, try to implement them. With time and perseverance the new habit will take shape and replace the old habit.
Eat in one place
- Try to eat at one place in the house. Best places to eat are the kitchen and dining room
- Always sit down at a table (not in front of the TV) and enjoy the meal.
- What we normally nibble standing up in the kitchen, while cooking, in the car, or on the run is snaky foods and result in mindless snacking
- Aim for 20 minutes to enjoy the experience the feeling of satisfaction.
- Change fast eating
- Listening to your body’s feeling of satisfaction you will experience the same feeling of satisfaction with often much less food. For example, if you receive a large plate of food in a restaurant, eat till you satisfied (not overfull) and leave the rest.
Restructure your environment
- Keep your immediate environment (work, home, car) free from problematic food.
- You can achieve this by doing menu planning; develop a good shopping list and shop with more discipline.
- Keeping your home full of healthy foods results in most of your meals being healthy
- Pleasure foods such as desserts, cake and the likes can then be enjoyed away from home in small portions in the context of social events for e.g. enjoy a piece of cake at a birthday party (the frequency is often not enough to affect your weight loss process dramatically)
- Food has strong emotional and social value, and we all need social acceptance in some way
- The process of weight loss is difficult and it is important for your family and close friends to give support in a meaningful and constructive way
- For example: Negotiate different strategies to promote a healthy lifestyle. On your birthday ask for presents such as books and flowers in place of food an organize fun activities around exercise and less around food e.g. on a weekend night instead of queuing for restaurants go for a long evening walk and enjoy a scrumptious low fat easy supper.
Maintain the momentum
- Will power is a temporal emotion that drives you when you are motivated and excited and like any emotion fades away very easily
- Work in your will power daily
- Develop structures such as an exercise and nutrition programme and a professional person such as your dietitian for assistance, monitoring, accountability and support
- Measuring and evaluating progress and achievement of small goals serve as motivation to stay focused and on track.
I always say remember as they say “Rome was not built in a day, it’s a life long journey to a better you”
Mbali Mapholi (RD)
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