How to Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions after a Crazy Year: Taking charge of what is around you.
In my previous post I talked about the importance of Thinking Shifts to keep on track with our resolutions. This time I want to talk about the other important aspect for achieving your aims: Creating a successful environment that is conducive to your goals.
by Natalia García, RD/N, IFNCP, CISSN, CHWC
A conducive environment is one of the most important elements for long-term weight management. Your environment will either allow you to become successful at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight or it will set you back and become a hinder, it all depends on how it could help you to manage your food cues.
What is a food cue?
A food cue is a signal that will make you want to eat. A food cue can be situations or activities (like going to the cinema makes you want to eat popcorn), an stimuli (like grabbing a candy if there is a candy dish at work) or even advertisements. In short, food cues act likes triggers that elicit a conditioned response, and with time, responding to the cue in the same way over and over, results in habits. Some common food cues are:
Sight of food
Smell of food
What other people do
Thoughts, emotions and feelings.
By managing your environment and taking charge of what is around you, you can control the amount of environmental food cues around you. You might not be able to control when you feel genuinely hungry, but you have control on the foods that you buy and introduce in your house. And this is important because mindless eating can amount to 400-800 calories per day!
Awareness and Mindfulness
In order to successfully manage your environment, we need AWARENESS about our food cues. We need to be mindful and observe our behavior to discover when and why we eat. Before eating something, take a minute to consider how that food is serving you: Can you tell if you are physically hungry or if you are eating from a different reason? Sometimes is not easy to say! If you are not sure try The Carrot Test.
Being aware also means being conscious of our internal cues: thoughts, emotions and feelings that trigger the act of eating. Sometimes eating is more than about hunger, it is about an attempt to bring memories and emotions back. We have learned that some foods are highly rewarding because they make us feel good. The experience of eating some foods is stored in our memories and when we are about to eat them, we retrieve emotional memories and those in turn drive arousal. Basically we are repeating the actions that lead to pleasure. The emotional relapse becomes imprinted in our brain and evolve into habits. Being able to identify these influences is the first step of reducing these foods or eliminating the habits in order to make healthier food choices.
Finally, practice mindful eating by engaging all your senses in the act of eating. This means limiting other activities, siting down (if possible) and appreciate all the characteristics of the food: colours, temperature, texture, smell, shape, etc. Food shouldn’t be in the background, you should be able to describe how food looks, smells, feels and tastes like.
Manage your surroundings.
Your immediate surroundings and people in your life can be great allies in your journey, or they can make change nearly impossible.
Remember the 80/20 rule? 80% of your choices are made in the planned and predictable environment of your “normal” routine and therefore mostly healthy. While 20% of your decisions are made in situations that are not part of your normal routine and are therefore out of your control. That is why it is so important to create an environment that is conducive to your goals, where you can feel supported and where making healthy choices becomes easier than making unhealthy ones. There are tools and techniques you can apply to create a favourable environment that will allow you to manage risky situations and focus on your goals.
Some examples on how you can manage a high risk food or situation:
Tune in your mind every time you reach for food
Keep high fat/calorie foods out of your house and workplace
Keep low fat/calorie choices easy to reach, in sight and ready to eat. Some great ideas are fresh fruits, veggies, non fat dips, pretzels, low fat popcorn and sugar free drinks.
Limit your eating to one place
If you are interested in learning how to create the right environments and achieving the thinking shifts necessary to stick to your health goals long term, sign up for the zoom session: ‘How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions After a Crazy Year’
In the class I will give you all the tools you need to successfully do your Thinking Shifts and Manage your Environment. You will learn:
How to track your progress and celebrate your wins
How to get back on the wagon and not letting small ‘slips’ turn into major weight regain
How to adopt consistent patterns of eating with little splurging over weekends or holidays
How to manage self-defeating thoughts and stay motivated
How to be more efficient by streamlining your changes
How to formulate rules to break patterns and behaviour
Techniques and tips to manage your environment
Register now! Sessions will be held on January 14th at 12pm & January 26th at 6pm
Mindful eating will help you to add more enjoyment to your meals.
Here are some extra tips for putting this on practice!
Natalia Garcia is a contract dietitian who can help with not only hormone imbalance, but weight loss, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive disorders and all aspects of health and nutrition.
Contact her at 941-264-4644 or at firstname.lastname@example.org