Making Change

At Natural Nourishment we help our clients make changes. We know that this can be a daunting process unless you have the right support & we also know that simply telling people what to do does not usually work.

That’s why we are interested in so much more than telling our clients what to do. The psychology behind eating behaviours & evolving our mindset around dietary & lifestyle habits is absolutely key to successful outcomes.

So how do you successfully make changes?

Firstly, there are 3 things you need to ensure you have:

  1. Capability
  2. Opportunity
  3. Motivation

Let’s start with capability.

Do you have the knowledge of what foods work for you & make you feel your best?

Do you feel you have the skills to find these foods, cook them & make them taste delicious?

Then we go to opportunity.

Do you have the support from friends & family to make the changes you want to make?

Do you feel these changes can fit into your timetable, your work or social life?

How can you move things around, or simplify to ensure they do?

And last but not least motivation – this is a key part of so much of our eating behaviours & is often the difference between starting, continuing & maintaining change & progress. This a huge topic but put very simply, motivation can be split into 2 sources – internal & external.

Ideally we want the majority of our motivation to be internal as this is the enjoyment we get from a behaviour, it’s a personal motivation which we feel supported in & excited about. External motivation absolutely can play a part but this is more to do with what other people think or their expectations of you, which in some cases can cause unnecessary (& unhelpful) pressure.

An eating behaviour that is incredibly common, & one that can act as hindrance to making healthy changes, is emotional eating.

You can have the capability, opportunity & motivation to make a change but emotional eating can hold you back.

It would be far too reductive to say emotional eating is a ‘bad’ or ‘good’ thing. We can eat in response to positive emotions such as to celebrate an occasion, or after having a particularly fabulous day. However, when it becomes a barrier to making healthy changes is when the tendency arises to overeat & when in response to negative emotions.

Eating can provide a way of dealing with uncomfortable emotions. For example loneliness, boredom, stress, tiredness, or feeling incompetent. A problem here is that we often can’t differentiate between physical hunger or a negative emotion.

Instead of facing up to uncomfortable feelings, these feelings are buried or numbed by food & then often replaced by feelings of regret, &/or uncomfortable fullness over what has been eaten.

As well as taking a dive into what negative emotions you might be experiencing, it’s important to address any clinical imbalances that might be contributing to how you feel. If there are faulty mechanisms somewhere in your body, this will only be aggravating your low mood or tendency to reach for less healthful foods.

For example:

  1. If your blood sugar sensitivity is impacted, your hunger cues are going to be all over the shop meaning you are likely to be craving sugary or high fat foods.
  2. Are you very stressed? Out of whack stress hormones such as cortisol & adrenaline lead to sweet & salty food cravings as well as poor sleep which will only spur on your appetite for high carbohydrate (sweeter &/or less fibrous usually) & calorie rich foods.
  3. Do you feel your digestion isn’t quite right? An imbalance of gut bacteria, or overgrowth of yeast or fungi will mean you are not extracting the nutrients from your food properly.
  4. Is your antioxidant status low? This leads to poor energy production in our cells & a weakened immune system, both of which mean you won’t necessarily feel ready to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Also if you aren’t making enough energy at a basic level you’ll get those same simple carbohydrate cravings to top up your partially empty fuel tank as speedily as possible.

Hopefully once you have an understanding of the above, you will see that you are not weak willed or unmotivated when you reach for the biscuit tin or are unable to make the changes you are striving for. You just need to get the health basics sorted before you are ready to be able to trust your body, your appetite & your motivation.

To summarise we would add a 4th point to the original list – acceptance. Often it’s when we step back & properly appraise things out of the moment that we can see the true nature of our drive for change, & whether this is a positive or negative forward force. If our clients are hugely motivated but potentially not in a very kind way we aim to evolve that driver to have softer edges. Something that is supportive of our whole body & mind health becomes a lifestyle, something that beats us up from all sides will only ever be short lived.

To be continued…

 

Written by Florence de Walden

Associate Nutritional Therapist