Deconstructing Useful Behaviour Patterns
In my last blog, the issue of focusing on behaviour rather than a change in body weight was discussed.
Why, as a dietitian is this important, and for my clients, so useful?
This includes a client's successful changes to what's in their shopping basket, what's on their plate, their ability to keep to a meal plan, having enough food so they are not feeling deprived or hungry.
What has worked, and what changes have been successfully made is more important than what hasn't.
Sure, investigating what has not worked needs to be explored, but if this is the focus, it breeds frustration and subsequently reinforces failure.
My clients keep a food diary or meal photo journal, which is a valuable tool for me to assess their intake, but more importantly for their accountability, providing feedback and insights into their own eating behaviour, including satiety and non hungry eating.
I'm more concerned that they ate "enough of the good stuff" rather than if they ate "too much of the not so good stuff".
Eating this way allows adequate nutrition to not be hungry, lose weight and control blood glucose levels.
My office is on the first floor of a building. At my client's initial consultation, I ask if they took the stairs or the lift, and most will have taken the lift. At review consultations, 9 times out of 10 they have taken the stairs. This is a change, and for some, a shift in their belief that either the stairs are too hard, or the lift is easier.
Decreased sitting time and increasing incidental activity is important, as research is showing excessive sitting negates the health benefits of exercise.
Planned exercise, including cardiovascular exercise and resistance training needs to be included. It also needs to be enjoyable. Engaging in classes, involvement with a team, participating with a friend, signing up for a competition, fun run or sporting event is much more interactive and motivating than walking on a treadmill in a gym.
I get my clients to look at activity as an opportunity to move, observe and engage, rather than something they have to do to "burn calories" or "lose weight".
Putting it together
The goal may be to lose weight or improve diabetes control or (fill in the blank), but we need to focus on the steps to get there. It's like high school maths - you get 2 marks out of 10 for getting the correct answer, but the other 8 marks are for showing your process, or working.
By focusing on, and reinforcing positive behaviour, this shifts the focus to what is working and what is easy, rather than what is not working or difficult.
Much more useful, wouldn't you say?