4 Tips for Enhancing Healthy Eating Habits

With fast foods at every street corner and processed foods available practically on every shelf of the grocery store it can be difficult to eat healthy however not impossible. If you have the desire to develop healthy eating habits then you will be able to do it! To help understand why so many people select poor eating habits and what you can do to enhance healthy eating habits, I have interviewed therapist Christy A. Cole, MA, LCPC.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with a Master’s Degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. My experience is providing psychotherapy and counseling clients in community mental health centers, crisis centers, partial hospitalization programs and schools. Currently in my private practice, I educate others about healthy eating habits. I also provide holistic counseling services to adolescents and adults in individual, family, couple, or group settings in my private psychotherapy practice in Kennebunk, Maine. In addition, I offer coaching and consulting services in person, by phone, email or video chat. I am also the author of the blog, The Novel Experience Experiment, which documents my exploration of how adding novelty into one’s life can increase a person’s happiness and life satisfaction.”

Why do many people today select poor eating habits?
“I believe that people today often live in a state of feeling rushed and pulled in multiple directions due to multiple responsibilities. Unfortunately, the quickest, cheapest, and most convenient food options are oftentimes the least healthy. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of not believing that you have the time or money to be able to eat healthy, though this is simply not true. There are many, many healthy food options that are both affordable and convenient. It just takes a little time upfront to discover them!

In addition, I believe that as a culture we have become seriously addicted to sugar. Sugar, like other addictive substances, can put people into a withdrawal state in which they feel lousy, have very little energy, and crave more sugar. Unfortunately, cutting sugar is not a simple process as it is often in ingredient lists under other names. In addition, simple carbohydrates and alcohol both get transformed into sugar when they enter our body, so we might eat a bagel thinking it is healthy because it is low fat and does not contain sugar, when in fact it ends up being quite bad for us!”

What are 4 tips for enhancing healthy eating habits?
“The following are my 4 tips for enhancing healthy eating habits.
1. Get Educated/Read Labels ‘” They say that ignorance is bliss, but in reality our ignorance is what keeps us stuck in unhealthy patterns. It’s very important that you make yourself aware of what you are putting into your body. So, while shopping at the grocery store or choosing what to eat at home, make a habit of reading the labels. This will force you to recognize and take responsibility for the choices you are making. Eating out can be tricky; however all of the major food chains have nutritional information available online. Make a point of reading up on the ingredients and nutritional value of the things you often order.

2. Keep a Food Journal ‘” One of the most effective ways of changing a behavior is to document it. Before making a commitment to change, simply take a week and write down everything you put into your body during that time. Include beverages, as these are often a major source of unhealthy ingredients and unnecessary calories. Use the information you attained in your food journal to identify unhealthy patterns and to set specific eating goals. Continue writing in your food journal while working toward making changes.

3. Set Attainable Goals and Expect Some Slip-Ups'” Too often, people want to go from poor eating habits to perfect eating habits. When they are hit with sugar/caffeine withdrawals, hunger and a sense of deprivation, they give in to their cravings, become discouraged and often give up on their goal of healthier eating all together. Change often takes practice. Too often people slip up once and then disregard all of the healthy choices they had made before making this one mistake, despite the fact that their eating is overwhelmingly better than it had been. If you have a slip up, recognize it as a one-time mistake in an overall improved picture and keep going!

4. Create Accountability ‘” One of the most effective things you can do is to simply tell people what you are doing. Whether this is soliciting someone to make changes with you, telling your family and loved ones to garner support, putting your goal as your status on Facebook or another social networking site, or creating a blog to document your changes, letting people know about your goals makes it harder to back out of them. This also allows people to give you the kudos you deserve when you succeed!”

What type of professional help is available for someone that has a difficult time enhancing healthy eating habit?
“When a person’s eating habits become dangerous, very harmful, or feel like they are out of control it can be important to seek professional help. The first step I would recommend is informing your primary care physician of your habits and concerns, as he or she will be able to provide a thorough examination to make sure that the effects of your eating habits are not at a critical point. Your physician can also provide appropriate referrals to professionals in other fields who might be able to help, such as a nutritionist or psychotherapist. Typically, when a person is exhibiting symptoms of a full blown eating disorder, it is my recommendation that they engage in weekly psychotherapy while working in conjunction with a nutritionist and doctor.

If weekly psychotherapy is not enough to allow you to change your behaviors, there are many intensive inpatient and outpatient programs designed specifically to treat people with eating disorders.”

Thank you Christy for doing the interview on tips for enhancing healthy eating habits. For more information on Christy A. Cole or her work you can check out her website on www.christycolecounseling.com.

Recommended Readings:
5 Tips for Healthy Living & Eating
Treatment Approaches for Eating Disorders
Underlying Issues of Overeating