Changing longstanding eating patterns can feel like an overwhelming job. Sometimes there’s so much to pay attention to and get a handle on—hunger, food selection, nutrition, mindfulness, satisfaction, fullness, emotions—that you don’t know where to start. It helps to find one focus and stick to it for a while until you make progress. What you pick doesn’t matter very much, only that you make a commitment to that choice.
Here are a list of behaviors that lend themselves well to a productive focus. For a whole month, put your energies into developing positive habits in one of these areas. If you succeed, great, move on to another behavior. If not, figure out what’s not working (like you’re not really trying or a more specific reason), and refocus for another month.
Hunger: Use a scale of 1-10 and eat only when you’re moderately hungry.
Diet Mentality: Purge your mind of thoughts about “good” and “bad” foods and reframe all beliefs that smack of food restriction. Think abundance, not deprivation.
Frequency of Eating: If it’s not working, change your current pattern. If you graze all day, switch to three to six meals only. If you allow yourself too few large meals, break them down into smaller, more frequent ones. If you’re stuck in a rigid, unproductive pattern of eating times, feed yourself on demand.
Emotions: Keep a running tab on your emotions to identify exactly what you’re feeling at all times. A feelings journal will help you keep track.
Triggers: Focus on what triggers overeating or bingeing and eliminate or reduce triggers.
Food Choice: Be especially mindful of what you want to eat, never mind what others are eating, nutrition guidelines, or what anyone says. Head inward and reflect on what would satisfy you.
Portion Size: If you generally overeat, cut portions in half or serve yourself less and see if you’re full and satisfied. You can always go back for more.
Eating Awareness: Push yourself to stay connected to appetite signals. Frequently ask yourself, Am I enjoying this? Am I still hungry? Am I satisfied yet?
Fullness and Satisfaction: Be diligent about recognizing and stopping at fullness and satisfaction. Practice throwing away food, saving it for later, or getting a doggy bag.
Comments on Weight: If you don’t care for folks remarking on your body, make sure you deter them. Ask folks not to comment or remind them when they do.
In one month you can make headway into any of these behaviors. Give one a try.