What we need to better understand is why we make bad decisions about our diet.
Today we have access to all the resources and knowledge about what to eat to fuel a healthy body. In fact, most areas in the United States have access to healthy food options and healthy alternatives. However, there is something that holds us back from choosing to consistently eat healthy; que the importance of strategies that develop healthy habits and behaviors to enable permanent dietary changes.
Consistent healthy eating habits require critical thinking and self analyzing, which help us better understand our behavior and the habits we have cultivated. We often don’t realize that we are running unconscious programming in our brain and the habits we cultivate are part of an unconscious cyclical thought process. Essentially our eating habits become a continual state of reaction instead of a state of awareness in which we are able to make clear decisions that benefits us.
One of the first steps in changing dietary habits is to identify why we have fallen into an unhealthy habit. Food companies have become very adept at encouraging our cravings, in fact food companies are designed to induce habit formation. Awareness of how the system works and how our behavior is affected by the strategies of corporations, genetics, environment, and other influences like media. Avoiding these systems that control our food production and/or our habits and cravings is part of empowering ourselves to strengthen our skills and habits of making healthier dietary choices.
Another step in changing dietary habits is becoming aware of how we operate, instead of being on autopilot and letting our unconscious rule our decisions. We are often unaware of the reasons behind why, and most often we create an internal battle, a tug of war with cravings that is most often insurmountable because we have learned to fight our thoughts instead of observe them. Jonothan Bricker in “The Secret to Self Control” talks about how our brains power to manage cravings by observing our cravings and our behavior allow us to drop the rope in the battle of tug a war with our cravings and finally move on. Briker also speaks about learning to say, “I am noticing I am having thoughts of a craving”, which will distance you from a state of reaction and give you real power to make conscious decisions. With practice, cravings cease as our awareness expands and we learn our behavior is patterned. Breaking a behavioral pattern requires understanding that we are producing the craving and we determine the direction the craving will take.
Additional Strategies for changing dietary habits:
- Change the environment- learn your personal triggers and eliminate them from your house so healthy eating is the default and not the exception.
- Meal plan and meal prep so healthy food is available when hunger strikes.
- Direct awareness to understanding what drives behavior and cravings.
- Don’t diet learn to feel your body’s urges and triggers so you can identify and change
- The secret to self control | Jonathan Bricke
- Why we can’t stop eating unhealthy foods | Laura Schmidt
- Why dieting usually doesn’t work | Sandra Aamodt
Kinesiologist, HealthFit Gym