When talking to your clients about behavioral change and nutrition, it is beyond your scope as a health and exercise professional to provide psychological counseling or detailed menu plans (unless you have additional evidence in this area). However, if you do not talk to your customers about their health behavior and diet, you might miss important areas for improvement.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit (Random House, 2012) Almost half of all decisions we make in one day are not decisions but habits. This means that we do tasks without conscious thought (brushing your teeth and getting out of the driveway, for example, require almost no effort).
If this theory also applies to food choices, many people probably will not know much about their intake. The decision to stand in the afternoon on the way to work for a coffee or to eat sweets can not be a deliberate thought, but a habit driven by a cue. And unfortunately, as Duhigg writes, some habits are "so strong that they cause our brains to cling to them to the exclusion of everything else … including common sense."
So if you want to encourage your customers to adopt a healthier lifestyle, focus on the process . Adaptation is a process. Being process-oriented instead of result-oriented can actually lead to better long-term results (and thus better customer loyalty). While customers are looking for results right away, they hire a health and exercise professional to help them learn, grow, and progress in various areas of the health and wellness sector.
What associative habits lead to healthier behaviors? Your customers undoubtedly know that they should eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, but how do you help your customers turn the choice of whole foods into daily behavior?
Contrary to what some believe, creating fear or shame does not work for your clients. As health psychologist and author Kelly McGonigal writes, "When tested in the science test [fear and shaming]people are pushing people to the very behavior that health professionals are hoping to change." In other words, this tactic actually increases unhealthy behavior.
What are the cornerstones of a better diet? Exercise is certainly one. According to researcher James Prochaska, senior developer of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change and author of Changing to Thrive (Hazelden, 201
When customers are advised to adopt the following five habits, they can improve their chances of success for a healthy diet:
- Raise Awareness of Current Habits . "Once you know how your habit works, once you've seen the clues and rewards, you're halfway to changing that," Dr. Nathan H. Azrin, a behavioral change researcher, psychologist, and university professor. As many people tend to consciously consume food, awareness is the most important step towards healthier habits. Help your customers recognize and care about what they eat (and not eat) and how much. Counting calories, but you do not always have to count them. Understanding patterns and triggers / cues is far more useful than calculating calories and macros. A detailed meal record (either on paper or online) that allows subjective comments for two to three days is a good place to start.
- Plan dinner for the week . Customers may find it easier to make healthy choices early in the day. Making smart decisions is especially difficult when life becomes hectic. Think of a typical evening after a long day of work, picking up the kids, sitting in the traffic and coming home at 18:00. Many people feel mentally and physically exhausted and heat up a frozen pizza or resort to fast food instead of choosing a healthy meal and cooking it themselves. Planning a dinner menu for the week eliminates the energy of making a decision when you are tired and hungry. It also helps to create a shopping list for the week. Challenge your customers to plan to use fresh foods (such as salads and fish) earlier in the week and foods (such as frozen vegetables and meats) later in the week.
- Sit down to eat, share and unplug the power cord. Over the past five years, surveys indicate that one in five meals are consumed in the car and nearly half of all meals and snacks are eaten alone. Eating in solitude is associated with both less nutritious food consumption and increased technology consumption. In other words, individuals are much more likely to work on their mobile device, or whatever they do, than to talk or focus on the meal. Similarly, the majority of American families claim to have eaten together less than five days a week. Teaming up with family or friends can coincide with a number of healthy behaviors. For example, one study found that children who dine with their families eat healthier foods, are less overweight, have less education and better academic performance, less problems with alcohol and drugs, and that they are closer to their parents ,
- Enjoy the meal . Consuming food should not create guilt. If you refer to food and behavior, cast the words good and bad . Instead, think about what should be done more often and less. Encourage customers to eat different foods and remind them that it is O.K. to indulge occasionally.
- Start with the end. As urged by Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Customs of Highly Effective People (RosettaBooks, 2013) to establish a long-term goal and to create a series of small goals progress toward that end goal Consistent behaviors that develop into habits. An example is the registration for a race or event (eg a half marathon in six months with a 5km and a 10km run). This "carrot" leads to an additional 20 minutes of exercise that might otherwise not have been done. And these 20 minutes, a few days a week, over the course of a year lead to a significant change and hopefully new habits. In addition, encourage a growth situation; So do not allow your customers to define themselves through their inadequacies or mistakes. After a hiccup, do not wait until Monday (or until the 1st of the month) to restart, but start a healthy meal plan after the last few dessert bites.
The truth is that there are no habits that have only one secret or one keyword. Hard work, consistency and patience – in the health, mobility and customer sectors – are essential to fostering sustainable results. Above all, create a consistently healthy culture that becomes contagious.