The Psychology of Healthy Eating

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profiteroles with chocolate sauceWhilst food is a source of pleasure for many people (just imagine a big plateful of fresh cream profiteroles topped with chocolate source), it can be a great source of stress for those of us who are trying to lose weight or have been told by our doctors and dietitians that we need to adopt a more healthy diet.

One of the main reasons that people become stressed when trying to eat healthily is that they try to make their diet more healthy than is practical in too short a timescale. Essentially, they are setting themselves up to fail. There are many foods that are said to be "bad" for us, but most are okay in moderation and do not need to be completely and permanently excluded. As they say, a little of what you fancy does you good.

The Perfectionist

The perfectionist wishes only to follow the healthiest diet possible. The perfectionist will exclude all alcohol, refined sugar, caffeine, animal fat, E numbers and processed food from their diet. Some perfectionists take it a step further, and will only eat organically grown food, believing other foods to contain "toxins". Sticking to such a strict diet can impose a great deal of stress on an individual. In addition, restricting the variety of what you eat may even have adverse effects on your total consumption.

How to start to eat more healthily

fruit selectionThe best way is gradually. Make small changes to your diet and stick with them, before making bigger changes. Consolidate your position before taking on further challenges. For example, current nutritional guidelines state that we should eat five portions of fruit or vegetables a day. If you currently have a chocolate bar as a mid morning snack, try swapping it for a piece of fruit. Stick only with this change until you are happy that you can maintain it. As a second step, you could look at reducing that nightly bottle of wine to glass of wine. Perhaps thirdly, you could change your morning fry up of eggs, bacon, tomato and fried bread to a bowl of wholewheat cereal served with semi-skimmed milk. If you miss your fry up, you could still allow yourself to have one on a Sunday morning. Whatever you change, you should be confident that you can maintain the change.

Success breeds success

As you incorporate changes gradually into your diet and maintain them, you will start to feel proud of your achievements. This in turn will give the confidence to apply further enhancements to your diet and lifestyle in general.