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Changing Your Eating Behaviour

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If you have never paid much attention to what you eat, making changes in your eating behaviour may seem overwhelming. The first step is to be aware of the factors that influence what and how much you eat, thereby helping you make informed eating choices.

Factors that influence eating behaviour could be

  1. High availability of foods

Because food is so readily available in our culture, it is easy to eat without thinking too much about the intake.

  1. Routines

People who eat regular meals tend to have better diets and be closer to their recommended weight than those who eat randomly. One of the main barriers to planning regular and balanced meals is a busy lifestyle. However, taking the time to plan meals can help you improve your nutrition. Family meals are an important time to share and discuss the day’s events. They demonstrate to children what balanced meals look like and also help them eat healthy.

  1. Cultural and social meanings

Some people eat, or don’t eat, certain foods based on religious, political, or social beliefs. These meanings are reflected in food choices parents make for their children & themselves, which are not always healthy for either of them.

  1. Emotions

Depression, anxiety, boredom, and stress often lead to unhealthy eating habits, both in adults and children. Our emotions and stress levels, eating habits, busy lifestyles, and family situations are all closely interrelated. Sometimes attempts to change eating habits cannot succeed until the emotions and stress in our lives are managed more successfully.

  1. Family and living situations

Many people and most children, eat meals prepared by others, and food choices often are made by the person who prepares the meal. The person preparing meals may make foods based on the family’s preferences rather than what is most nutritious.

Now that you are aware of the factors, which may influence you to eat wrong or in excess; there are several ways you can modify your eating behaviour. Making changes in your eating behaviour may seem overwhelming but it can be done.

The following are the most important things to remember:

  • Make small changes

You are more likely to be successful by making small changes and sticking with them for the long term.

  • Don’t worry about falling back to your old behaviour

If you go back to old eating habits for a meal, for a day, or for a week, it doesn’t mean you have failed. Just return to your new habits.

  • Involve your family and friends

Speak with your family and friends about the changes you are making. Let them lend their support by acknowledging your efforts and improvements. If you eat alone often and feel a lack of support, seek out friends or co-workers who may be interested in changing their eating behaviour. Many people are aware that they could eat in a healthier way and would welcome companionship in this effort.

  • Understand your barriers & learn to overcome them

There are many reasons why you may not want to try to change your eating habits. Most of them are based in some type of fear, like not being successful at it or thinking that you don’t have the time to make such changes in your behaviour. Many people also hate giving up their favourite comfort foods for the “boring” health foods.

  • Commit to change

Food preferences are slow to change, but they do change over time. Making a new behaviour a habit usually takes 3 months or more. Decide to withhold your judgments about what you like and dislike in foods until you have given the new foods a chance.

  • Setting goals

Set goals you want to achieve. It is generally best to set small, measurable goals. You can set them on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

  • Track your progress

One way to evaluate your progress is to record your food intake for several days when you first start to make changes in your diet, and then do it again in a few weeks or months. You can do this every once in a while to track your progress. Compare your early records with more recent ones. Have you met your goal(s) or improved your diet? Notice whether your food preferences change. As we change what we eat, we learn to like new foods. Pay attention to how you feel.

  • When you reach one of your goals, reward yourself

Avoid the temptation to reward yourself with unhealthy food. You can reward yourself in other ways: a night at the movies or a new item of clothing!

Remember this has to be a life long change in your behaviour for a healthier & happier you so make the commitment & start the change today!

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