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ProjectFit Life Coach - Session 1: What Influences Our Eating?

Session 1: Eating Under the Influence Of…

*adapted from Craving Change by Shah and Cannon

To overcome problematic eating, it's helpful to be aware of the different factors that are influencing your food choices and eating behaviours. Let's take a look at three factors:

Our Environment

We tend to blame ourselves for our unhealthy eating habits and think we lack willpower. Yet consider how much more challenging it is to make decisions about eating here in North America compared to other countries and in our generation compared to the ones before. As you go about your usual routine this week, try and notice environmental factors that prompt you to eat. Increase the awareness of all your senses - what you see, hear, or smell, and notice what influences you to eat.  Write down your observations, "What I notice about my environment and lifestyle is…"  For example, we're living in a fast-paced society where we hardly can find the time to sit down to eat, let alone make a healthy meal. Food is also everywhere, within easy reach, and food is big business. Bulk buying and large portion sizes are the norm, and we have far too many choices.

Our Body

Certain eating patterns and lifestyle habits can affect how your body uses the food you eat and may promote food cravings. Circle the factors that may affect you:

Skipping breakfast                                                      Inactivity

Long periods of time between eating                        Chronic stress

Following very restrictive or low-calorie diets           Lack of sleep

Our Learned Behaviours

We have all learned to associate foods with something other than nourishment - we have been brought up with certain routines, traditions and expectations around food. These become learned behaviours, or habits.

What are some triggers for you?  For example:

Trigger                                                            Response

Watching a movie                   à                    Eat popcorn

Family dinner                          à                    Eat a heavy, large meal

Feeling anxious                       à

Feeling angry                          à

Feeling tired                            à

Wanting to reward myself       à

Food for Thought

Here are some questions for you to think about over the next couple weeks:

Ø  Do I make different food choices when I'm rushed versus when I have more time?

Ø  Do I sometimes buy something I hadn't planned on, just because it's on sale?

Ø  Can I ignore hunger pains if I'm busy?

Ø  Will I eat more of a food I like or tastes good, even if I'm full?

Ø  Do I ever tell myself that I "deserve" to eat a food?

Dr. Lin is a licensed psychologist and Clinical Director of LifeCare Centres in Ontario, Canada ( with over 20 years of clinical experience. Her teaching is valued by clients and professionals as a compassionate counsellor and trusted speaker. Visit her website to learn more and to subscribe to her blog, "Ask Dr. Merry":

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