By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES
We eat for many different reasons. In an ideal world, we eat when we are hungry and eat to nourish our bodies. However, more often than not, we can be triggered by many different cues to eat foods that aren’t nourishing us and, at times when we’re not hungry. Many of us can be triggered by stress, boredom, social situations or just being around food. What triggers you to eat? Do you tend to eat more when you’re with certain friends? When you’re watching TV? When you’re lonely or feeling stressed? Does the sight of food stimulate you to want a snack? Think about this.
The path to a healthy eating pattern begins with developing a better understanding of your usual habits. It’s so important to assess your usual behaviors around food — then you can identify strategies to help you change those behaviors. Learn about your own habits by using our Food Journal – download it here and fill it out for 4- 7 days. As you learn more about your own behaviors, you can identify the ones that you’d like to adjust… and make gradual changes that will turn into long-lasting healthy habits.
Positive habits around food often fall into one of these five categories. Filling out our food journal will help you figure out where you’d like some better strategies— and we’ll provide specific tips for each category, too.
- Be self-aware. Being able to assess what situations or people or feelings trigger you is the absolute most important first step towards addressing and solving the issue.
- Eat mindfully. Eat slowly and intentionally. Try to limit distracted eating (such as eating while watching TV). Savor the flavors. Notice the tastes.
- Adjust your environment. Make the healthy choice the easy choice. Small adjustments to your surroundings, including your office or the commute route, can have a big impact to help you make better choices.
- Plan ahead. By planning menus, shopping lists, list of activities if you’re bored and want to eat, and pre-packing snacks, you can reduce the risk of eating too much.
- Set yourself up for success. Try meal planning. Set up an appointment with a dietitian or physician who specializes in weight management. Talk with your friends & family regarding how they can be supportive.
Here’s the most important thing to know – for many people, diet and exercise alone won’t be enough to help them reach a healthier weight. Medical treatments are needed to address the biological changes that happen in our bodies when we lose weight. To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.
To sign up for our free online class that covers the basics of how to reach a healthier weight, click here.