Healthy Food Habits/Diet Plan For a Better Life That’s Healthy
Published on: January 04, 2022

Published By: Southwest Physical Therapy

Healthy Food Habits

Most of us have already developed habits when eating is concerned. Some of these habits are not too good (Always ”rewarding” yourself at the end of your workday with a sugary drink), but some are good (Always having fresh fruit for dessert). When it comes to making improvements it’s never too late, even if you’ve had the same eating pattern for years.

Short-term weight loss can result from such things as eating nothing but cabbage soup and radical, sudden changes you decide to make. However, such radical changes are not a good or healthy idea nor will they be successful in the long run. A thoughtful approach is required to improve your eating habits permanently, whereby you reflect, replace, and reinforce. 

  • Take inventory with REFLECTION on all of your specific good and bad eating habits without leaving out a detail; REFLECTION is needed on what your common triggers are for the unhealthy eating you’ve been engaging in in your life.
  • Implement healthier eating habits as REPLACEMENTS to your unhealthy ones.  
  • Your new, healthier eating habits have REINFORCEMENTS at all times.

Reflection:

  • Start a list of your drinking and eating habits. Maintain a beverage and food diary for several days. Everything you drink and eat must be written down by you, including alcohol and sugary drinks. The time of day you drank or ate the item must be written down. You will be able to uncover your habits with the help of this. For instance, you might discover that to get through the energy slump of mid-afternoon you always like to seek a snack that’s sweet. 
  • Especially so if you were not really hungry when eating, how you were feeling when you decided to eat is something that’s good to note. Were you stressed out? Tired?
  • On your list, be sure to highlight the habits you think lead you to overeating. You can gain weight with the following common eating habits:
  • Meals being skipped (even if it’s just breakfast)
  • Eating dessert always
  • Eating standing up (can lead to eating too quickly or mindlessly)
  • Eating when you’re not hungry
  • Cleaning your plate with your mouth always
  • Eating in a rush and fast
  • Look at your highlighted eating habits that are unhealthy. Be sure to identify everything that triggers your engagement in those bad habits. Select the few you want to start improving on first. You should also give yourself credit always for the things you’re doing right. For dessert maybe you usually drink fat-free or low-fat milk, or you eat fresh fruit. Such habits are good! Pat yourself on the back! You will be encouraged to make more changes when you recognize your successes.
  • To better know where and when you’re “triggered” to eat when you’re not really hungry, review your food diary so you can start a list of “cues”. Take notice of the way you generally feel during those times. Non-hunger reasons for eating are often encouraged by a particular emotional state, or an environmental “cue”. People tend to eat when they’re not even hungry, due to some of the following common triggers: 
    • Feeling tired or bored and believing that food might give you a pick-me-upper.
    • Going through your favorite drive-through every morning.
    • Being offered doughnuts at your staff meeting each morning.
    • When you’re in the break room sitting there beside the vending machine
    • When you walk past a candy dish on the counter.
    • Being offered dishes that were made “just for you!”
    • Having no idea what’s for dinner after returning home after work.
    • After or before a stressful situation or meeting at work.
    • Watching television on your favorite couch at home. 
    • Seeing your favorite snack food when you open the cabinet.

Circle the “cues” on your list that are faced by you daily or weekly. While an easy trigger to overeat may be the Thanksgiving holiday, for now it’s the cues you face more often that we want to focus on. It is for as many eating cues as you can that you eventually want a plan for.

  • For each “cue” you’ve circled, ask yourself the following questions:
    • Is there something in the unavoidable things department that I could do differently that would be healthier? Things like staff meetings at work and all the situations that trigger your unhealthy eating habits obviously cannot be avoided. Your options must be evaluated during such situations. Couldn’t healthier beverages or snacks be brought or suggested by you? To distract your attention, couldn’t you offer to take notes? So that something won’t be as easy to grab, couldn’t you just sit farther away from the food?  Couldn’t a healthy snack be eaten by you before the meeting by planning ahead?
    • So that the situation or cue can be avoided, is there anything you can do? Cues that don’t involve others are the ones this option works best for. For instance, could a different route to work be chosen by you  to avoid stopping at a fast food restaurant on your way? So that you are not next to the vending machine, is there another place where you can sit in the break room?

Replacement:

  •  Healthy new habits should replace the unhealthy ones. For instance, you might discover that you eat too fast if you were to reflect on your eating habits. Therefore, once a week invite a neighbor over for dinner, or each week commit to sharing your lunch with a coworker. Putting your fork down between bites is another trick. Distractions like watching the news as you eat must also be done away with. You are unable to pay attention to how much and how quickly you’re eating when you have such distractions.
  • You must eat more slowly. Instead of paying attention to whether your hunger is satisfied, you might end up “cleaning your plate” when you eat too quickly.
  • Instead of eating when you’re feeling an emotion besides hunger, such as anxious or tired, it is only when you’re truly hungry that you must eat. You should instead try to find a non-eating activity to do each time you notice you’re eating because you’re experiencing an emotion other than hunger, such as anxiety or boredom. You may be surprised to find that a phone call with a friend or a quick walk can help you feel better.
  • To ensure you’re eating a well-balanced meal that’s healthy, plan your meals in advance.

Reinforcement:

  • Be very patient with yourself so you can reinforce your healthy new habits. Habits are developed with time – It’s never an overnight thing. If ever you find yourself partaking in a habit that’s unhealthy, stop immediately and ask yourself: When did this start? Why am I doing this? What must I change to stop falling into this unhealthy pattern? Be sure not to believe that one human error is going to blow or destroy an entire day’s worth of healthy habits and never berate yourself. Of course you can and will do it! Simply do it one day at a time and you’ll be just fine, especially with Southwest Physical Therapy in your corner with myofascial release therapy at the ready to get rid of any chronic pain and/or limited range of motion. Just call us. YESSS!

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