Healthy Eating Skills For Better Food Choices: Empowering You To Transform Your Eating
We have to make multiple food choices every day, so having a set of healthy eating skills we can fall back on is important to help us tackle the food environment effectively. Healthy eating skills aren’t just about choosing nutritious foods- good food choices also come from awareness. If we’re aware of what, how and why we eat, we put ourselves in a good position to start making positive changes, both in terms of our food intake and our lifestyle, which can help us to feel more in control of the food environment and help us to reach our goals, whether it’s a healthy weight or achieving better health.
The Problem With Diets
If a diet plan tells you exactly what to eat and how much to eat, this can prevent you from thinking for yourself and getting in tune with what foods are really best for YOU, as well as what amounts of food. I’ve seen many clients lose large amounts of weight on commercial weight loss programmes. Some clients who struggle with controlling their food intake even consider these diets a holiday, a break away from having to make food choices- this is especially the case if the diet involves abstaining from homemade meals and instead requires you to eat shakes, soups and bars produced by the company. These individuals haven’t learned healthy eating skills or how to get in tune with their own satiety cues (fullness levels) because they’ve simply followed a diet that tells them what they can or can’t eat, and how much to eat. By the end of the diet, they feel anxious about returning to regular eating. By learning to modify your eating gradually instead of embarking on strict diets that often lead to a cycle of yo-yo dieting, you can master healthy eating skills as well as understand and address the key issues you need to work on in order to get more in control over your eating- for life.
Tackle Your Eating Behaviour Before You Tackle The Scales
When you want to lose weight, it’s easy to get excited about a specific weight goal, and to do that many people embark on restrictive, perhaps unenjoyable diets to reach that goal. However, it’s important to first tackle your eating patterns and what drives you to eat, other than hunger. Some people might be unaware of their motivations to eat, if they’ve never identified or addressed what psychological and environmental cues trigger them to eat, or the manner in which they eat. Others might be aware of what drives them to eat, but since they’ve eaten in such a way for decades, they’re stuck in a rut of automatic habits. I help clients to feel more empowered by making them more aware of their eating patterns, and help them to find ways to address those factors that cause them to overeat or to eat unhealthy foods in an uncontrollable way.
Steadier Weight Loss Means More Flexibility
In our ‘quick fix’ society of instant gratification many people are impatient to lose weight, particularly if they’ve lost weight quickly in the past on a rapid weight loss plan. In addition, some might feel that in order to control their eating they need to be on a strict diet. By abandoning the dieting mindset and instead focusing on long-term behaviour change, it’s possible to break free of the yo-yo dieting cycle. You’re more likely to get longer lasting results if you lose weight steadily than if you lose weight rapidly. The advantage of slower weight loss is that there can be a lot more flexibility- it doesn’t have to involve cutting out your favourite foods, rigid calorie counting and there’s generally a bit more leeway.
Positive change can begin by switching from a ‘quick-fix’ dieting mindset to a gradual weight loss mindset, whilst acknowledging that long-term, sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight- it requires experimenting, practice, dedication and patience. I work with clients to motivate and inspire them, to set up new habits that they feel are manageable, enjoyable and sustainable, and to help them feel more in control of their eating without feeling the need to be on a strict diet. Once they’re more in control of their eating, they find that weight loss follows naturally.
Getting Away From Perfect Mode
When we embark on strict diets, we often try to follow it perfectly. The problem with this is that if we ‘blow it’ just once, it can be easy to give up the diet altogether. I help clients to adopt a more flexible attitude towards food and to avoid thinking about foods in terms of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I help them to focus more on self-care, how they can provide their body with the nutrients it needs, and to think about adding in new foods rather than always focusing on what they can’t eat. I help them to recognise the importance of food quality and the problem with simply calorie counting. Rather than eating in a ‘black and white’, rigid way, we can learn to embrace the ‘middle way’. Practising mindfully eating a small portion of something you fancy, rather than denying yourself that food or completely overindulging in it, gets you away from the rigid and restrictive black and white mindset, and you learn to enjoy less food, more.
Knowledge is Power: Educating And Empowering You To Transform Your Eating
When people gain more knowledge about food and nutrition and awareness of their own eating patterns, they’re more likely to become more skilful at adopting effortless and enjoyable health behaviours. If they’re more mindful or aware of their ‘weak spots’ when it comes to eating, they can then focus on those areas and develop the relevant healthy eating skills and other skills required to help them gain more control over their eating.
From experience, once clients have an understanding of how their bodies physically respond to certain foods, they’re able to recognise that how they eat is not driven simply by their thoughts and feelings, which could cause the client to label themselves as having no willpower, but also by physiological processes taking place in the body, which can influence factors such as hunger, cravings and mood. They can then choose the appropriate foods to help them feel more in control of their appetite.
Gaining knowledge and skills can encourage a ‘can do’ attitude, a sense of mastery, which in turn can provide the momentum and motivation for creating new habits. I help to educate clients wherever they feel they have knowledge gaps, whilst supporting and motivating them.
My approach to helping people lose weight is inviting them to observe themselves and to look at their underlying habits. Some weight loss programmes might not address underlying habits. In order to ‘de-construct’ unhelpful habits and to build more helpful ones, it requires people to become more aware of what, how and why they eat, and to gain a whole range of skills in dealing with the psychological and practical aspects of eating, whether at home, at work, on holiday or when socializing. Working with you, I will help you to de-construct any unhelpful habits, thoughts or beliefs which may be making weight control difficult and replace them with new, more helpful habits, thoughts and beliefs.
Engaging The Brain
We often eat on ‘automatic pilot’, eating mindlessly without necessarily considering what other options we might have. I help clients to work through various common scenarios to get them thinking about what they need to consider in any particular scenario, what would be their usual ‘default’ action, whilst thinking about alternative, better options. By helping clients to engage the brain, I help them to adopt healthy eating skills and become more mindful, conscious eaters.
I offer one-to-one sessions in and around the Camberley, Surrey area and I also offer Skype sessions to clients living in other parts of the UK and elsewhere. I also run small groups and workshops.
If you think you could benefit from my services, give me a call (Emma Randall) on 07961 423120 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information and tips see my blogs.