Nutrition and mind-set: Working with your personal trainer to change old habits

Food, Glorious Food!

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

For some, eating food is blissful pleasure, they are food-lovers and they are perfectly happy eating as they like. Those that live to eat, will make food choices based on the flavour, texture and taste of food, often irrespective of calories, fat content and whether or not it is a healthy option. Ultimately, what matters the most in life is truly being happy and content with whom you are and if food makes you happy and doesn’t negatively affect your health, then that is fine.

But for those of you who struggle with your food, your weight and your health, this article is for you. A lot of eating is psychological. We often eat because we are stressed, haven’t slept that well, or are just plain bored. How many of us only eat when we are really hungry? And then, how many of us truly eat the healthiest things all of the time?

In today’s modern and fast-paced world, we often eat on the go and just eat out of needing to be full up and satisfied, often with little thought for nourishing, nutrient dense food. We find ourselves in a constant rush through the day and week, as we need to bring home the bacon. Many of us are busier than popcorn on a skillet!

Ok, enough of the food idioms (for now).

21st Century Eating

Food has long assumed a role in our modern society beyond filling empty stomachs – it permeates many facets of our life. Attending work lunches, taking clients out to dinner, attending birthday events and weekends away, we are often faced with a massive variety of different foods to consume.

By learning how to make healthier and more mindful choices, you may be able to control compulsive eating, binging and weight gain. Changing unhealthy eating habits may show some real positive benefits such as an increase in energy levels and alertness, a more positive relationship with food, improved health and an improved body image.

Many people use food as a coping mechanism to deal with intense feelings like stress, boredom or anxiety. Sometimes it is used to try and prolong feelings of joy. While this may help in the short term, you aren’t actually facing the problem that is causing the stress and furthermore your self-image may suffer as you gain weight.

You Are What You Eat

What we eat affects how we feel. If you eat the wrong things, it may show up in the appearance of your face, skin or nails or with an increase in undesirable body weight gain. And so firstly, it is really important to realise that food should make us feel good. If you eat too little or eat too much, your health and quality of life could be affected, which can result in negative feelings toward food.

In order to see fast and effective fat loss, you need to ditch the excess starchy carbohydrates (bread, rice and pasta) like a hot potato. Instead, go for lean protein sources in every meal, like chicken, fish and meat. Swap the carbs for lots of vegetables, dark leafy salads and healthy stir fry meals.

Food for Thought

Now if you really want to use your noodle, you will realise that there are forms of therapy that are really excellent for helping behaviour change, through literally re- programming the mind. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the approach most often used because it deals with both thinking patterns and behaviour. Some areas that are addressed through cognitive behavioural treatment include:

Determining the person’s “readiness for change” — this involves an awareness of what needs to be done to achieve your goals and then making a commitment to do it.

Learning how to self-monitor — Self-monitoring helps you become more aware of what triggers you to eat in the moment, and more mindful of your food choices and portions. It also helps you stay focused on achieving long-term progress.

What strategies will help me manage my weight?

To lose weight, you must change your thinking. Weight management is about making a lifestyle change. It’s not going to happen if you rely on a never-ending string of short-term diets to lose weight.

Keep a Food Diary

By writing down everything you eat and drink, you can get a good idea of someone’s overall eating habits. A food diary allows you to record in detail the food you eat, when you eat it and how you feel when you’re eating. The diary can help you get a better understanding and awareness of your eating habits. It also can help your Personal Trainer work with you to make the necessary changes for successful weight management.

Bad Habits Die Hard!

Changing our eating habits is hard because so many decisions are made automatically, in response to routine situations we find ourselves in and also because of “mindless eating”. A habit is something that we do regularly without thinking and many of the food choices we make are part of our daily and weekly routine. Do you eat the same cereal each morning? Do you have lots of dressing on your green salad? And do you eat something sweet at the end of every evening meal?

Adopting a more mindful approach to your food means taking smaller bites and paying more attention to what you are eating. Not only will you eat less this way, but you will also enjoy it more.

May the Food Be with You

Food can improve our mood, make us feel satisfied and content and we can derive great enjoyment from eating and sharing food with friends and family.

But food can have a dark side too! – Pause and breathe heavily like Darth Vader here. Eating the wrong things can make you feel bloated, sluggish and generally lethargic.

We worry about eating unhealthy, about weight gain and how we can control our intake. And so eating is not just pleasure – it is also about the struggle within ourselves Obi-Wan.

Wrapping Things Up

Finally, take some of the food phrases here with a pinch of salt. Now go out there and make some big changes, go bananas! Take charge of your situation. Be empowered to make smart food choices. Start feeling good about yourself.


Carlos D’Souza, Personal Trainer Muswell Hill and Creative Director of The CARLOS Method Ltd gives his advice on how a well-qualified, knowledgeable and experienced Personal Trainer can really make the difference to your mind-set, health and well-being.

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