A change in diet is all about replacing habits that cause illness with healthier ones. Those who manage the change usually not only lose weight, but also feel better and more efficient.
by Britta Probol
Prerequisite for a successful change: The new diet must suit you. Because in the long run, only those who get full and who enjoy it will stay with it.
A change in diet is not a diet
An individual dietary change does just that: in line with personal preferences, it varies which foods you should eat more often and which less often. This is the difference to diets: there is no constant calorie counting and no prefabricated menu, but a direction and many possibilities to try out.
Dietary patterns can be reprogrammed
Dietary patterns from childhood leave a deep mark on us. Breaking unhealthy habits once learned is not easy, but it is possible. "To change imprints still works via the so-called "Mere-Exposure-Effect", says Dr. Matthias Riedl. This effect, also called the effect of mere contact, describes an interesting psychological finding: namely, that the mere repeated perception of an initially neutral thing – such as lettuce – results in a more positive evaluation of it over time. It is possible to "reprogram" your brain, only needs a few weeks of perseverance.
How to tackle such a change now? The following roadmap helps with the implementation.
1. Set a concrete goal
Whatever it may be – the weight you want, better skin, no more bloated belly, being able to perform certain movements without pain again, or being able to go without certain medications: Choose your goal so that it can be achieved in a few weeks or months. This is mainly about weight loss. Formulate clearly, for example: "I want to lose at least ten kilos by the summer and get rid of my knee pain." This is more effective than a vague resolution such as: "I’ll try to lose a lot of weight so that I can run better."
write down the goal, for example in your food diary and/or on a memo on the fridge. This creates commitment.
2. Inform the most important people
All people in your household should be initiated, because shopping and cooking together will change, possibly even the entire daily rhythm, such as with interval fasting. Perhaps your loved ones will join you in the planned changeover. Especially in the case of widespread diseases such as obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure, the entire family benefits from the nutritional recommendations and healthy, delicious recipes.
Also talk to your doctor about your plans. If skeptical, consult a nutritionist/consultant if in doubt. If you are taking medication, the dose must be reduced in parallel with the success of the change in diet.
3. Create a support network
Good friends or your favorite colleague: support is always valuable when you leave your usual routines and enter new territory. Look for allies. A change always requires a bit of organization and often also a lot of willpower – especially if your partner doesn’t go along with you or your colleagues are always trying to steal something from you.
Also, keep in mind that the more people you let in on your plan, the more social control you will have.
4. Observe your current eating behavior
Before the changeover, you first need to know the initial situation. Keep a food diary for about a week and analyze: What and how much do I eat or drink and when?? When do which complaints occur? Compare the actual state with the target state, i.e. the recommendable and less recommendable foods for your condition. What do you notice?
5. Identify problems and find solutions
If you should omit certain food ingredients – such as wheat, cow’s milk, fructose or others – you first need an overview: What is contained in what? Processed foods often contain ingredients that lay people would not expect, such as sugars in cold cuts, whey powder in baked goods, or gluten in soy sauce. It pays to read the ingredient lists carefully.
If you have noticed unhealthy habits such as frequent snacking, determine the motives for this: convenience, boredom, thirst, comfort eating? Think about what can help. For example, if you often eat out of boredom or stress, write an "Instead of food list": Include things that are good for you and distract you from cravings. The tips for more mindfulness help many sufferers.
Too much fast food and convenience foods are a common problem. Design a plan to incorporate more fresh produce into your diet: shop differently, possibly pre-cook, involve helpers (partner, grandma, neighbors) or pack healthy provisions for the road. Changing your daily routines is a challenge, but with the right tricks and recipes, it’s often not as difficult as you might think.
6. Start again
Here we go! Clean up your kitchen and basement for the new start and remove all "sources of danger": give away food that doesn’t fit into your new way of eating.
Experiment: try unfamiliar ingredients, bring variety into the menu. Our tasty recipes will help you get the right nutrients in the right amounts.
Important tip: test new flavors several times. Because the taste changes only slowly. If you were used to many convenience foods, an unsweetened plain yogurt with berries may not taste good at first. Here the salami tactic helps: always stretch a little more. So, for example, mix industrial fruit yogurt with natural yogurt and reduce the amount of ready-made yogurt from time to time. After a few weeks or months you will be surprised how oversweetened industrial fruit yogurt or cake seems to you.
7. Record the successes
If you check your weight, don’t get on the scale too often: once a week is enough. After the change, continue to keep a food diary, and do it honestly: This is the only way to see which foods actually end up on your plate, where the change is working well and where there is still a lack of progress.
Be strict with yourself, but also not too strict: health is a holistic process, enjoyment and joie de vivre are part of it! Conscious nutrition should not end in self-mortification. If you have internalized the new nourishing principle well, then individual outliers are permitted. What counts is the long-term goal.
8. Obstacles? Setbacks? Keep at it!
In times of stress, many people tend to fall back into old familiar behavioral patterns. The sweet consolation plaster is then followed by frustration, self-reproach and, in the worst case, the abandonment of the goal according to the motto: Now it doesn’t matter anyway. But even if something has gone wrong: Don’t be discouraged! If you don’t succeed at the first attempt, simply start a second one. Maybe with more support.
Experts advise in case of uncertainty
Do you feel insecure, for example because you have different diseases with opposite nutrition recommendations? Then call on expert advice and support. You can find help at the focus practices nutritional medicine or with experienced nutritionists and dieticians in independent practice. Some health insurance companies support nutrition counseling through subsidies or cover it entirely. You can find reputable consultants via the directories of the professional associations. In the meantime, consultations via the Internet are also possible.
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