Your Eating Habits- Part 1:Identify Them

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your eating habits: identity them

We are creatures of habit.

We like to buy and eat the same foods, cook our favorites recipes every week, add always the same ingredients to our morning smoothie… But, it helps to know yourself and your eating habits. It is important to stop every now and then and assess if anything requires changing or swapping for a more healthy, mindful lifestyle.Eating habits have certainly been out there in the open over the recent months, especially with the movement to eat a more plant-based diet. Everyone seems to be eager to share their favorite foods, eating routines and ‘what I eat in a day’ videos. Sometimes it may feel like we’re being dictated what to eat. We may go ahead and follow certain diets without thinking about how they might affect us or if they ‘suit’ us and our lifestyle.

How do you make your decisions on what to eat? Do you follow a certain way of eating? Are you often left craving foods you shouldn’t have OR do you feel content with your eating habits?

Me≠You

One person’s food, is another person’s poison

Let’s talk about bio-individuality. Bio-individuality is a concept in modern nutrition that states that we are all different. And, so are our eating habits. Makes sense, right?  In other words, what may be good and nourishing for me, may not be so good for you. My way of eating or diet may not suit your nutritional needs, your preferred way of preparing food or your constitution.Bio-individuality alone is an important factor to consider when we create or aim to change our eating habits. We want our way of eating to suit OUR needs and we want it to improve OUR health. No two people are the same.

What determines your eating habits?

Apart from a diet for health reasons (e.g. gluten-free, because you’re a coeliac) – have you thought about what makes you eat the way you eat?There are some ways to examine it and to help you identify the habits.I'll share with you some of my eating habits:

  • I try to stop and ask myself what I feel like eating at that moment. Almost every morning, I ask myself: do I feel like a warm breakfast or cold? Do I want sweet or savory start? Do I feel hungry or do I want to extend the fast?

  • I’m also guided by a desire to be nourished – it’s almost like my internal nutrition compass. For example, if I had some toast for breakfast, I’d eat some veggies or soup for lunch. If I had a fasting morning, I’d aim for bigger nutrient-dense lunch. I want to eat many different foods to make sure I get in as much variety and nutrients in the day. I want to have a balance of protein and carbs, sweet and savory and also different textures (crunchy or cooked foods) during a day.

  • I love good food, so I often make my food choices based on taste (duuuh) – cooking plays a big part in my life. I find that trying new recipes and ways of preparing meals is a perfect way to introduce new foods and flavors to my and my family’s diet.

  • I try to follow a rule of any less healthy meal following with a healthy one. I like food and want to enjoy life, so I don't want to feel guilty about eating a pizza or chocolate brownie. It's all about balance, making the right choices and being honest with yourself.

  • I don't like being rushed with food or drinks. I sometimes choose not to eat if I can't have at least a few minutes to enjoy it (e.g. skip breakfast if I am running late in the morning or make myself something to go and eat it later)

  • My eating habits have also evolved over the years and are (almost) on the opposite spectrum of what they used to be. I grew up in a carnivore family, eating lots of meat and dairy - where now, I am a vegetarian, eating limited amounts of dairy every week. Habits can be changed!

Where to start?

Here are 8 questions I recommend you ask to uncover what shapes your eating habits:

  1. When deciding what to eat, are you often guided purely by your hunger or taste?

  2. Does time play a big role when it comes to deciding what to eat? (e.g. you choose fast meal option vs. homecooked meal due to time limitations).

  3. Do you feel any pressure from family, friends or social media to eat a certain way?

  4. Do you feel you have enough knowledge about food and how it impacts your wellbeing?

  5. Does eating or deciding what to eat make you feel anxious or guilty?

  6. Do you often choose foods you ‘should’ eat vs. the ones you like?

  7. Are there any old habits/way of eating that you hold on to and you’re not sure why? (e.g. sweets after dinner; binge junk food after alcohol; eating certain foods even if you don't particularly like them ).

  8. How honest and open are you about your eating habits? Do you tend to eat differently when you’re alone or out with your friends?

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After you asked the above questions, write down the answers and check-in with yourself to see if there’s anything that stands out or feels ‘off’. Let your intuition guide you and be honest with yourself - you're doing it for yourself and you're the one that will (ultimately) be making all the decisions and changes.Finally, is there anything that you’d like to change in the way you eat? If yes, ask yourself WHY you would like to make those changes. Understanding the reasons behind the change will help you to see the health goals clearer and it will make them easier to achieve. It also helps to break down the goals, which is important as it makes them less scary! The WHY also helps you to uncover the real reasons behind the desire to change.

Here are some examples of the WHY exercise

Example 1:

I want to add more greens into my daily diet’

WHY? E.g. To be more nourished and alkalize my body.

WHY? E.g. To feel better and become healthier.

WHY? E.g. Because I want to feel well in my body and health is important to me.

WHY?E.g. Because I want to be strong and live a healthy life. And I am tired of not feeling attractive.

WHY? Etc.

Example 2:

‘I’d like to give a vegan/paleo/low sugar way of eating a go’

WHY? E.g. For health reasons – I want to see if it would help me to feel better/help with bloating/ help with my skin concerns/ help with my headaches etc.

WHY? E.g. Because I am tired of feeling bloated and eating unhealthy foods.

WHY? E.g. Because it makes me feel uncomfortable and I can't relax in social situations.

WHY? E.g. Because I don't feel good in my body and I am always conscious of what people see me eating. 

WHY? E.g. Because I'm afraid they will judge me.

WHY? E.g. Because I want them to like me.

WHY? Etc.

Try to set aside a 10-20 minute and be somewhere quiet where you won't be interrupted. Have this conversation with yourself out loud (with a mirror, if that helps) or try to journal about it. Being loud and clear about what you want to change and why will help you to feel more serious about the process. It is also great if you can find a health coach or a friend that will know your goals and therefore can be your accountability buddy - that way, you're more likely to really commit to the journey (contact me if you would like to chat about it!).

Final thoughts

There can be many different factors that influence our food choices and make our eating habits - from behavioral (e.g. time management, awareness) economical (e.g. money, education) to emotional (anxiety, guilt) and social (e.g. influence of friends, social media). We are familiar with some of the factors that impact our choices; some others can often be uncovered after we ask ourselves a few curious questions (like the ones above). Good news is, that - once you get to know yourself a little - there are some easy things you can do to change your eating and lifestyle habits to make sure they lead you to a healthier you.

In the blog post next week, I will share some tips – make sure you come back and check it out. Sign up to the newsletter not to miss it!