Eat Right

With our de­fin­i­tive nu­tri­tion tips and snack sugges­tions

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Chang­ing your eat­ing habits isn’t just a matter of buy­ing bet­ter foods. To make the change stick, you also need to adopt a healthy eat­ing mind­set – here are 12 tips that will help.

1. Call your­self a fruit lover

As soon as you start call­ing your­self some­thing you’re more likely to em­brace it as your brain starts to see the name as part of your iden­tity. “This pro­vides a sense of mo­ti­va­tion and you then seek out be­hav­iour that af­firms that iden­tity – like buy­ing and eat­ing more fruit,” says psy­chol­o­gist Amanda Brouwer from Wi­nona State Univer­sity in the US.

2. Ask your­self, ‘Will I eat veg­eta­bles today?’

When we ques­tion whether we’re go­ing to carry out a be­hav­iour, we’re ac­tu­ally more likely to make the health­ier choice. For best re­sults, Dr Natalie Tay­lor from Mac­quarie Univer­sity says your ques­tion needs to in­clude four things: An ac­tion, a tar­get, a time and a con­text. So, say you’ll eat an ex­tra serv­ing of veg­eta­bles (ac­tion), at din­ner (tar­get), four nights this week (time), when I cook my din­ner my­self (con­text).

3. Step off the scales

If you think you’re over­weight, you’re ac­tu­ally more likely to make un­healthy choices when you eat.” Fo­cus­ing on weight cre­ates stress and emo­tions like guilt or shame that can make some of us more likely to seek out high-calo­rie foods,” says psy­chol­o­gist Vicki Wil­liams from Sydney Be­havioural Health. The good news is: If you’ve been eat­ing healthily and avoid­ing the scales, when you do weigh your­self you’ll prob­a­bly find you’ve lost weight.

4. Seek out healthy food pics on­line

There are heaps of im­ages on Pin­ter­est or In­sta­gram but don’t just look at so­cial me­dia – also vi­su­alise your­self chop­ping the foods, smelling that juicy wa­ter­melon or tomato, and feel­ing the juice run down your chin

as you bite in. Also imag­ine them tast­ing fan­tas­tic. When you fo­cus on the plea­sure of eat­ing the food you see you’re more likely to reach for it your­self, says Dr Olivia Petit from Malaysia’s Imag­i­neer­ing In­sti­tute.

5. Think about how you’ll feel af­ter eat­ing

If the an­swer is nour­ished, en­er­gised, sat­is­fied and healthy, tuck in. If the an­swer is fat, guilty, de­feated or bloated, then use th­ese feel­ings of re­gret to steer your­self to­wards a bet­ter choice. This is called ‘an­tic­i­pated re­gret’ and it works be­cause we don’t like to feel bad. “In fact, peo­ple will work much harder to avoid a po­ten­tial loss, like feel­ing bad, than we will to achieve a po­ten­tial gain, like eat­ing well, ex­plains Dr Joshua New­ton from Deakin Univer­sity.

6. Know the C.A.N rules

Th­ese are US food psy­chol­o­gist Brian Wansink’s keys to mak­ing healthy eat­ing a habit. He says fol­low­ing th­ese rules can in­crease the amount of healthy choices peo­ple make by up to 60 per cent. Here’s what the let­ters stand for:

• CON­VE­NIENT Have a bowl full of fruit within easy reach, or place veg­eta­bles right at the front in your fridge.The eas­ier they are to reach, the more likely you’ll eat them.

• AT­TRAC­TIVE When buy­ing fresh food, buy a good mix of colours. Take time and care pre­sent­ing your meals and plat­ing them, and you’ll en­joy eat­ing them more.

• NOR­MAL Crowd out un­healthy foods in your fridge or cup­boards with fresh, healthy choices, and you’ll find eat­ing th­ese will start to feel like the nor­mal, nat­u­ral choice to make in your daily rou­tine.

7. Change one thing at a time

Try­ing to make too many changes to your habits at once can de­plete your willpower. Nu­tri­tion­ist Leanne Cooper sug­gests try­ing to change one thing at a time, start­ing with your big­gest chal­lenge to eat­ing well. “You might feel bad when you fin­ish up leftovers or overeat in front of the TV,” she sug­gests. “Once you’ve iden­ti­fied your big­gest hur­dle, think of tac­tics to stop your­self from do­ing it and fo­cus only on chang­ing that one habit. Once it’s sec­ond na­ture, turn your at­ten­tion to some­thing else.”

8. Stop la­belling foods ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’

It doesn’t work – in fact, peo­ple given the mes­sage that a food is bad for their health eat more of it! It’s bet­ter to think about foods you want to limit as ‘oc­ca­sional foods’,” says Leanne. “It cre­ates a more bal­anced idea of eat­ing choices, where oc­ca­sion­ally you can have some­thing sweet and en­joy it, rather than feel guilty for eat­ing some­thing ‘bad’.”

9. Give food tasty de­scrip­tions

How much bet­ter does a fresh crunchy car­rot, yummy plump rasp­berry or a juicy red tomato sound than just a plain car­rot, rasp­berry or tomato? That’s why ex­perts say we’re more likely to reach for healthy good­ies if we use in­dul­gent words like crunchy, juicy, tasty, yummy, suc­cu­lent or fresh to de­scribe them. Get cre­ative with your shop­ping list.

10. Fo­cus on the short-term ben­e­fits of mak­ing the change

“Peo­ple who fo­cus on short-term goals – like more en­ergy or bet­ter sleep – are more likely to stick to an ex­er­cise reg­i­men than those think­ing long term – and it’s likely it works for healthy eat­ing too,” says Dr New­ton. Need a few to be get­ting on with? Start­ing to eat more fruit and veg­eta­bles im­proves hap­pi­ness as much as get­ting a new job. It’s also linked to in­creased en­ergy and health­ier, more ra­di­ant skin.

11. Pair things up

So you love cheese, but aren’t so keen on broc­coli. Try eat­ing the two to­gether, sug­gests Leanne. “The more you eat a food, the more it will be­come a habit and the greater the chance that you’ll grow to like it!” Once the habit is in­grained, de­crease the cheese and in­crease the broc­coli.

12. Feed your brain

You might walk into the su­per­mar­ket primed to shop healthily, yet still come out with a bas­ket­ful of food that says oth­er­wise. The rea­son, ac­cord­ing to brain be­hav­iour spe­cial­ist Terri Bow­man from Brain Well­ness Spa, is that when it’s ex­posed to all those food choices, the brain can get overex­cited. One way to break this con­nec­tion and re­wire a new one is to snack on some­thing healthy while you shop. “Over time, the sud­den ex­pe­ri­ence of eat­ing well in this ex­cited state will stop the brain per­ceiv­ing junk food as more ex­cit­ing than healthy choices,” she ex­plains. This means you’ll get a buzz from eat­ing healthy foods, too.

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