About: making changes sustainable
Change is difficult for most people. All of us have habits or automatisms that have been acquired or learned previously. Mostly many years back, and often we don’t even know anymore when or why we acquired those habits. A good example are food habits such as acquired tastes and eating favorite foods like French fries or white bread with peanut butter. Unfortunately not all of these habits are healthy, especially now people get much older than they used to do hundreds or thousands of years ago.
Foods with a high sugar content gives energy on the short term both for the brain and the body. The energy quickly converts to fat which can be used as an energy store. As kids we become easily accustomed to sugary foods and liquids. As adults we keep those habits without even thinking about it or knowing where they came from. They have become unconscious. The question if our adult’s bodies nowadays still need the quick energy store that sweet foods and liquids provide. Are they even really tasty? Or is it more a habit our body has become accustomed to. The other question is whether it is healthy to eat sugary food or whether it can lead to illnesses such as diabetes.
A lot of people are changing their diet, which is what they eat habitually, in an attempt to loose weight. Either by trying to eat differently or to eat less. The problem of a diet is that people who diet go outside their comfort zone and habits both in taste and in the amount of food they eat regularly. E.g. eating less fat, less sugar, less proteins or carbon hydrates. All of them on the short to middle term lead to a feeling of discomfort and what happens is that people tend to go back to their old habit and gain weight again, usually more than they lost because their metabolism also changes slightly. This is a more of the same strategy and leads to the well-known jo-jo effect.
It is something which can be seen to the extreme in anorexia patients. They almost eat nothing to loose weight which influences their self image and perception. And then they often have binge eating to compensate. It’s a psychological disorder which follows the “more of the same” behavior. Less and less eating, followed by binge eating and then all over again. Another example of this next to anorexia and bulimia is SED or Selective Eating Disorder. This is also an example of more of the same behavior, eating only one or a few very specific foods.
The only way to get out of this type of more of the same behavior which is pathogenetic and can lead to obesity or to emaciation or illness due to a lack of vitamins is to break out of the behavior in a different way. Instead of eating more and more or eating less and less or eating only one specific food can be done by not perceiving it as a big change but as growing into another more positive and constructive self-image. This is also called salutogenesis instead of pathogenesis. Pathogenesis focuses on one specific issue, disease, illness, sickness. By solving this issues the problems should be solved. E.g. eating less or different to loose weight. This behavior focuses very much one specific symptom such as being overweight but it does not focus on the overall well-being of the person.
Salutogenesis on the other hand focuses on the general well-being of a person so it will never lead to emaciation or obesity. It is not so much about change of one particular thing but about more than what meets the eye. It is a holistic approach about growth or gradual improvement instead of perceived change. Growth includes gradual changes but is only one part of it and not an all of a sudden very big one. Growth is multi-faceted. So in the case of food it includes taste, variety, colour, creativity, fantasy, health, humor, flavor, aroma, smell, containing fibers. Taking care of the first and the second brain or the gut. Bringing more balance, health, ease, well-being, functioning.
When change is presented as something specifically addressing one particular thing a lot of people will resist change by default. They are accustomed to doing that particular thing in one way using a habit. However when this particular thing is embedded in a broader, wider or deeper experience and context it is perceived differently. This can also be something paradoxical, surprising or unexpected. It puts everything in a different perspective or context and a small change such a eating more fibers daily with every meal can bring a big step towards growth.
Neil Armstrong famously said: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. When landing for the first time on the moon in 1969 with the LEM launched by Apollo 11, he made this remark. Everybody understood that from now one humankind could be seen in a different context and perspective. Especially when seeing images of the Earth from the Moon.
So instead of changing a diet to loose weight eating differently even in a relatively small way gives a new perspective and context for food. What helps is to prepare your own food from fresh ingredients. And not from a recipe in a book but just what you think that feels good for you. Make a pizza bottom from red lentils in 30 minutes and add your own toppings and bake it for another 10 minutes. Being healthy, being happy, having a normal body size or BMI but above all to eat your daily food in a harmonious way as being very tasty and rich in nutrients and flavors.
Recommendation: When you make changes to your life it is very important to keep in mind that they will be sustainable and become regular. So keep track of the intermediate results and make notes. E.g. start with a regular food pattern. Always the same breakfast at the same time, some lunch at the same and a healthy dinner at the same time. You will see rapid changes quickly that stay.