Maintaining a Healthy Eating Plan

**** GUEST POST ***** By Justine Knott, Psychologist

One of the reasons we often fall off track with a healthy eating plan is that we do not tune into our body signals and we eat unconsciously, often being triggered to eat by emotional needs and unconscious habits. Notice if you head for the fridge or pantry unconsciously. Whenever I open the cupboard door and reach for something I ask myself, ‘Do I really need this?’, ‘Am I really hungry?’, ‘Is this beneficial for my body?’ and ‘How am I going to feel after I eat this?’

Encourage digestion and healthy eating by setting time aside for meals, not multi-tasking, but mindfully eating and drinking, focusing on what you are doing and eating slowly. A beneficial mindfulness exercise is to close your eyes as you take a bite of food, and slowly and reflectively notice how the food feels in your mouth. What is the texture like against your tongue? What is the temperature like? What flavours do you notice? Notice your mouth and your body responding to the healthiness of the food. Remind yourself as you eat how wonderful you are going to feel after eating such healthy food. Remind yourself that you are giving your body the nutrition that it needs. Taking your time to eat and chewing each mouthful will also aid digestion.

Really notice how good your body feels after eating healthily. This will reinforce your healthy eating behaviour. Behaviour only needs to be repeated and reinforced in order to become a habit. Just as when we learn a new skill, we develop habits through repetition. Your brain is creating new neural pathways as you learn new skills and behaviour. You are not only learning new eating habits, but new routines for shopping and cooking, and new cooking techniques. Be proud of the positive changes you are making to your life, which will benefit your physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Notice your triggers to unhealthy eating habits, such as boredom, stress and depression, and plan alternative activities to manage these emotions, such as taking a walk when anxious or stressed.

Find out more about Justine and her practice, Keilor Psychology – HERE

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