Behavior Change and Health News
Busting Through Barriers to Healthy Eating
Healthy Eating Every Day addresses the real causes of unhealthy, unbalanced eating and teaches strategies to improve eating habits for a lifetime. The following excerpt from chapter four of the Healthy Eating Every Day book describes a problem-solving method that anyone can use to pinpoint an obstacle and develop effective solutions for overcoming that obstacle. Click here or call 800-747-4457 ext. 2226 to learn more about Healthy Eating Every Day and how you can offer this course in your community or worksite.
Identifying your personal barriers to healthy eating is an important first step in overcoming them. Now, how do you get past your healthy eating barriers? Developing your problem-solving skills can help you overcome the barriers that stand in your way.
Problem solving involves creative thinking aimed at finding the most effective response to a situation. You can use many different methods to find solutions to problems. Here's one IDEA that you can use to overcome barriers. This strategy can be used to help you change many habits, not just your eating habits
I: Identify the Problem
Choose one of your personal barriers and think through it thoroughly and specifically. For example, if family gatherings keep you from eating in a healthy manner, try to remember the events of the last family gathering. What specific thoughts and actions seemed to get in your way of eating healthy foods? Were you too busy to prepare healthy meals? Did you feel pressured to eat that extra piece of cake that your grandmother baked especially for you? The more specifically you can describe the problem, the more focused you can make the solution.
D: Develop a List of Possible Solutions
Think of as many possible solutions as you can. Do this by yourself or with a friend. Be creative. Don't limit yourself, and don't judge whether the solutions are good or bad. Try one of these approaches: Develop the longest list you can in 15 minutes or less, or think of all the ideas you can over a couple of days.
E: Evaluate Your Solutions
Now's the time to be realistic about your plan. Select one solution that you would be willing to try during the next week. Develop a specific plan to put your solution into practice. Remember, be as specific as you can. Describe how and when you are going to test your solution.
A: Analyze How Well Your Plan Worked
Periodically assess whether your plan is working. You might want to keep a copy of your plan on the refrigerator or by your desk at work. Your plan might not work the first time around. You may need to revise it by making a few minor changes or picking a different solution from the list you prepared. Other times you may need to start at the beginning of the IDEA process and redefine the problem.
People often skip the last step of the IDEA strategy and forget to analyze whether their solution really worked. Every step in the process is essential. It's as important to analyze and revise your plan as it is to identify the problem and develop solutions. It might take two or three tries before you choose the right solution for your barrier. Barriers will occur, but if you have developed problem-solving skills, you can handle any barrier that might come your way.
Carpenter, Ruth Ann, and Carrie E. Finley. 2005. Healthy Eating Every Day Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
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