When considering your eating habits, you may be able to determine what challenges you may be experiencing in losing weight with your daily diet. Most of these habits are developed early in the childhood but it is still never too late to make the changes needed to reach a healthy weight.
Making rapid and big changes to your eating habits may help in the short term to lose some weight, but it is not the most healthy or realistic long-term. To improve and change your eating habits for longer success and healthier management will need a thoughtful approach. This includes reflection of your current eating habits and replacing them with healthier choices and ways to keep maintaining those changes.
The process to improve your eating habits depends on three things: Reflect, Replace and Reinforce.
Initially and continuing into your healthier lifestyle, you will want to make a daily food journal of each day’s eating habits and water consumption as well as the times you are eating. This will help you study your habits closely. Use this diary as a guide to see where, what, and when you can make healthier choices. It is also good to note down how you were feeling when you decided to eat a specific something even when you weren’t hungry. Were you tired and stressed out?
By keeping a record of your eating habits, this helps you to take more control to overcome them. Some common habits that lead to weight gain are:
- Eating quickly
- Eating when not hungry
- Always finishing the plate
- Eating desserts
- Skipping meals
Common triggers to eating when not hungry are:
- Watching television while sitting at home
- Seeing your favorite snacks in the cabinet
- During a stressful situation or meeting
- Passing by your favorite drive-through in the morning
- Somebody offering a dish they made for you
- Feeling tired of bored and thinking food might help you feel better
Start looking at the unhealthy habits you have highlighted so far, observe the triggers that push you to develop such habits, and select some that you’d like to improve on first. Be proud of yourself for making even the smallest changes. You might also notice you have some good eating habits, encourage yourself and recognize the good ones and keep going.
Next is incorporating new healthy changes. Things you can ask yourself for example are, “What can I do to avoid this habit or situation?” or “What can I do as a healthier option?”. Perhaps removing unhealthy snacks from your cabinets or staying busy to be distracted from eating when bored.
Below are some healthy eating habits that you can include in your routine:
- Eat slowly instead of eating quickly
- Eat only when hungry and stop when full
- Plan the meals ahead of time to make sure you have a balanced healthy meal
- If you find yourself tempted to eat when bored or stressed out, try distracting yourself by going out for a walk or call up a friend
Keep your food journal as a daily reminder to stay focused. If you find yourself having that unhealthy choice, reflect on how to avoid that choice next time and reinforce for next time. Changes take effort and you will have moments that you may run off course, but don’t let it discourage you. Habits are hard to break and for new ones to develop, so be patient with yourself as you transition into your new daily regimen and be proud of the success that you have!