Modifying behaviour around food and its consumption

Screenshot 2020-01-09 at 16.54.08I realised quite a few years into my journey to think about lifestyle changes rather than “being on a diet”.

That lifestyle change will need to happen a bit at a time and will involve many things : changing your behaviour around food, portion control, identifying emotional eating triggers, increasing your activity levels, trying new foods, making healthy food swaps, etc.

Commitment to diet/lifestyle change and resistance to temptation doesn’t just happen! It has to be worked at.

The only way I have succeeded this time is to change how I approach food and eating it. I have learned to resist temptation! BUT please believe that this has taken a LOT of hard work and practice.

It’s about “normalising” or “modifying” behaviour around food… and I think that with enough “practice” it becomes more and more easy until you get to the point where a behaviour is modified to the point of it becoming the only way.

I am sure that even some people who are not over weight do sometimes over indulge – but the fact is they don’t do it very often…

Those of us who are over weight have been used to “treating” ourselves, eating portions that are too large, eating the things that we know are calorific because we can.

It’s been a combination of changing all of those aspects of how I behave around food that has meant I have been successful this time.Screenshot 2020-01-09 at 16.54.37

I have developed a respect for the food I eat. Not everyone has the ability to eat as well as we in the western world eat. We should not abuse the privilege.

I rarely eat “on the hoof” any more, I rarely eat between meals. I take time to sit at a table and present my meals nicely. I take a moment or two to really look at my plate of food before I pick up my knife and fork.

Almost daily I say to myself “Aren’t we lucky to be able to enjoy such lovely food”. I really mean that too, I am not saying it for anyones benefit, but acknowledging how priviledgedwe are in a country where food and food choices are a plenty. We should never take for granted having easy access to delicious food stuffs and our ability and love of cooking.

Logging food – keeping track of how many calories some favourite “treats” contain means that after a while they stay in your head (medium egg = 70 cals, slice of white bread 100 cals, meringue nest 57 cals, 30g/matchbox size of Cheddar, 122 cals)

I do have sweet treats/chocolate, but I buy my own choice, so things like 2 finger Kitkat, single finger Twix, Club biscuit… these are all around 100 calories. I keep them in a tin and I can have one whenever I want to, but they are occasional treats – and they are always logged into my diary.

Without keeping a log of what you are eating and the calories foods contain, then it’s a bit like trying to travel from one place to another without a map. You may get there eventually BUT it’s likely to take you much longer than if you planned the route and used a map PLUS you might take a few wrong turnings and end up going back on yourself or even getting completely lost.

I have also learned not to plan each trip out of the house to include food. Once upon a time, I’d have included lunch with a trip into town, coffee and cake with a visit to the garden centre.

I now plan or even prepare a meal BEFORE I go out (usually a salad) so that I know exactly what I can eat as soon as I walk into the door… and don’t turn to “what I fancy” (usually high calorie carbs that don’t keep you full for very long…)

Make a list of the reasons WHY you want to lose weight. Keep it somewhere safe (stuck to the inside of a kitchen cupboard door?) and look at it from time to time, especially when you are raiding the kitchen for treats!

I always ask myself before eating something really calorific “Do I really want to eat this thing more than I want to lose weight this week?”. It’s called “mindful eating” – being aware of why you are considering eating – real hunger? Boredom? Temptation? Feeling fed up?

Have a glass of water, wait 5 minutes and consider whether you still want the food. Once it’s been snaffled down, it’s too late and you may end up feeling cross and angry with yourself….

….and that feeling (guilt, failure) lasts for a long time, much longer than the temporary enjoyment of whatever treat you ate….

Oh, and I always remind myself how good the feeling is of seeing a loss on the scales at my weekly weigh in! That wonderful feeling lasts for days! Don’t forget how that feels – you need to remind yourself of that feeling next time temptation strikes!

I’m healthier and fitter now at the age of 57 than I was 20 years ago…..

I am writing this as someone who had struggled all of my life (since the age of 9) to lose weight.  I have a significant disability that affects my mobility – use a wheelchair outside of the house.  I am also very short (4ft 8”).  It wasn’t until the age of 49 when I started to log everything and kept track of the calories I was consuming that the truth hit me between the eyes.  I was eating FAR TOO MUCH for a short sedentary person.  I changed my whole approach to food and eating it that everything else clicked into place 🙂

Just wished I’d found what worked for me years ago.

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