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Health & Medical

BEYOND TRIM: Replace bad diet habits with good ones

Here’s some help making those changes stick

Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center
Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to improve your diet? How’s that going? If you’re having trouble sticking to a new eating plan here is some advice from Dr. Micaela Karlsen of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, edited from an article that she wrote, that can help you transition to healthier eating habits.

1. Avoid making decisions

Set up your life so that food-related decisions are minimized and the healthiest choice also is the easiest. Stock your house and kitchen with healthy food. Bring healthy food with you to work and while traveling so you don’t need to forage in a gas station or resort to the vending machine.

2. Decide in advance what to eat

People who create implementation intentions tend to be more successful at creating new habits. Make a plan with yourself before you get to the decision-making point. For example, if you are going out to eat with friends, look at the restaurant’s menu online ahead of time and figure out what you’re going to eat.

3. Change your environment to break bad habits

Making changes to your environment can help you in interrupting your typical patterns. Try shopping in a new grocery store or rearranging your furniture. These physical changes can help you shift your feelings about what is normal, which can help make other changes seem normal too.

4. Don’t let yourself get too hungry

Practicing self-control, and the capacity for it, are both correlated with stored glucose levels in the brain. Plan ahead and bring snacks so you can avoid feeling “hangry.”

5. Focus on supporting yourself in the first few weeks

The first few weeks will take some work, but if you can support yourself so you repeat the behavior as frequently as possible, you’ll be paid back as it becomes a habit that much more quickly. Besides doing the four things listed above, “supporting yourself” also could mean connecting with others, journaling, or using a reminder or scheduling app on your phone. Just do what works for you, and what will help keep you on track.

Tip number 3 is one that I can relate to. A few years ago, I made the connection that by shopping on Friday afternoons I was making poor choices at the grocery store. Maybe I was just tired or felt like I should reward myself for working hard all week. One week I needed to shop on Thursday afternoon and I wasn’t tempted to buy any unhealthy snacks. It didn’t even click until I was halfway home. Now, I try to do my shopping during the week.

Go to shawurl.com/37v8 to read the complete article from Karlsen.

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