Several really good answers. As I wrote about in my book GET REAL, what seems to be effective is to help clients understand that healthy eating habits describe how one wants and plans to eat for rest of their lives, not for just a month or two. It’s why I talk about what I call the 80/20 principle–do what you know you’re supposed to do 80% of the time. 20% of eat however you want to. It’s what you do most of the time that will likely determine one’s nutritional health.
Take care, Daniel
There are a few factors that motivate people eat better. Their health condition, their weight and their fitness goals are few of them. I always tell my clients to seek an advice form a registered dietitian or nutritionist at least once in their lifetime, because it’s the best way for them to learn a better and more efficient way to eat healthier and one that works best for them.
I attempt to educate clients (athletes and general fitness clients) on the influence of their childhood and formative years on their eating habits. The foods that we find most appealing are the product of years of habitual consumption and emotional responses. Our taste preferences can be influenced at any point in our lives, but the preferences set by the age of 20-25 often stick with us for life. Unfortunately, the years before age 20-25 are not the most enlightened years to form eating habits. Children and young adults will invariable prefer sweet, salty, and fatty foods over healthier choices. I try to help clients use that knowledge to begin changing their taste preferences. As with anything that is new, the mind and body don’t make changes easily. That is where consistent effort to add better food choices, reduce poor food choices, and not let a few slip ups stop the effort make the most difference.
But if attaining a healthy lifestyle were not difficult, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. And I point that out as well. Then there is regular revisiting of the path to getting healthy with a good amount of encouragement and understanding/empathy.
I give all my clients tips and suggestions but getting them to implement them in their lives is no easy task. I have found that people are willing to get up at the crack of dawn and train for 2 hours at a time 5 days a week but the slightest mention of changing their eating habits (just a little to start) and I get a look of sheer terror. It is a lot easier to reduce alcohol, junk food, etc. a bit then spend hours a week on the treadmill burning calories but most people do not want to hear it. For most people food and drink is there outlet and they get that “feel good” feeling that they lack in other areas of their lives. So, I give them tips and make my case and hope they use the knowledge. Some listen and try for a bit but most don’t do anything and wonder why their progress slows after the body gets used to the new workout regimen. In the end it usually takes a medical scare or hitting rock bottom for people to take action on that front. The clients that do change their eating habits see fantastic results.
Coach John Kane CPT