Do you know you need to eat better, do you know what you should be eating but still don’t.  Do you feel that despite your best intentions life and stuff seem to derail your efforts? Do you wonder why? 

We know there are multiple factors that influence our food choices.  

But did you know?

It is estimated that as much as 40% of what we do day to day is driven by habit rather than active day decisions, and yes this includes food choices.

Let me explain.  There is a term called automaticity.  It means we do things without having to actively think about them.The basal ganglia is found deep in the older more primitive part of our brains.  It is involved in a form of learning that involves a stimulus and a response;we learn to respond to a trigger (stimulus) with a specific behaviour.

In the scheme of things this is a good thing.  Humans are incredibly complex; we have eleven major body systems running 24 hours a day.  The brain looks for ways of being more efficient, to be able to ‘dial down as it where’.  One of these ways is through creating habits.

However it is a two edged sword, habits can work for us but also against us.  Food habits included.  For example, your trigger may be fatigue, and your habit behaviour may be reaching for the biscuit jar.  Youmay get temporary relief but it does not relieve the fatigue, in fact it makes it worse sending you back for another sugar hit.  You are left feeling frustrated because you promised yourself you would stop eating sweet biscuits.  Sound familiar?I promote the concept of mindful eating.

Mindful eating promotes active decisions as to why, when, how and if of food choices. The aim is to increase awareness of what, why and how we eat.

We can all (me included) make food choices or eat without active thought, we call this mindless eating.If our food habits are generally pretty good, we are unlikely to have an issue.  However four food habits are poor and unhealthy it will undermine our desire for good health.

So what do you do?  A good place to start is by keeping a food diary.  A food diary requires you to write down what you eat, it allows you to develop awareness of your food and eating habits.  Sound too simple?

Did you know?

  • Those who keep food diaries (real time) are more successful in changing and improving their food choices and eating habits.
  • Keeping a food diary can be for some a cornerstone habit, a small habit we adopt that leads to other small habit changes that over time leads to significant habit change.
  • People under-estimate anywhere from 20-50% how much food they eat.
  • A food diary can give you a system for thinking about food and the choices you make.

And it is free strategy that anyone can adopt.  With the countdown on to summer holidays, I believe this is a great time to increase your awareness of what, when and why you are eating.  I encourage you to keep a food diary for a week and see what you discover.  This could be your first step toward better eating habits and improved health.

Enjoy.

Jan McLeod