Spring into Healthier Eating – Behavior Modification

Spring into Healthier Eating – Behavior Modification

Have you been keeping to your New Year’s resolution of eating healthier? Well, you are not alone! Most people who attempt resolutions slide back into their old habits. We all want to focus on changing our lifestyles for the better, but to keep the momentum going we need to learn about ways behavior change plays an important role in the success of any weight management program you participate in.

For so many years, our billion dollar diet industry has made weight loss seem like a walk in the park with all the “quick fixes,” whether a “special diet” or “supplement” that most often lacks substantial amounts of scientific evidence or proof they actually work. Very rarely do we take the time to think about what simple, healthy behavior modifications we can make to our lifestyle in order to achieve our long-term health and wellness goals.

Appetite Awareness Training, created by Linda Craighead, is a tool used to build awareness of your hunger and satiety cues. While eating, it is important to be able to identify whether you are at a level of moderate fullness or if you have moved passed it. Listening to your body is one of most rewarding parts of making positive eating behavior changes. The goal is to achieve a normal eating pattern. This is achieved by training and listening to your body — to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. The benefit of normalized eating is to develop a positive mindset about the role of food and healthy eating.

Behavior plays an important role in the success of any weight management program.

How to eat healthier using behavior modification tools in 6 steps:

1. Make the change simple, specific and concise. Try your best to choose a goal that is very specific. For example, instead of saying: "I want to eat healthier over the next month," you would say: “I would like to eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day over the next month.”

2. Make sure you are setting goals that are realistic. If your motivation level on a scale of 1-10 is not a 7 or above, it is wise that you choose another goal. The goal should be something you have strong motivation to change.

3. Try your best not to move to other goals without completing the ones you've already created. You will get more satisfaction when you are successfully able to check off that you achieved your goal.

4. Give up dieting. Develop normal eating behaviors that are built by listening to your hunger and fullness cues.

5. Remember that new habits take time and practice. Practice makes perfect!

6. Develop coping strategies to deal with feelings. Many of us are emotional eaters; making sure you are addressing your emotions in ways other than eating a whole tub of ice cream is an important tool in weight management. We often feel much worse after doing so, anyway!

When trying to change your eating habits, keep in mind that it is going to take time to make the change part of your lifestyle. Remember, if you relapse, just think “today is a new day” and get back on track to the healthier you that you hope to become!

References: Linda Craighead, PhD. The Appetite Awareness Book, 2006.

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