Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Science of Breaking Bad Food Habits

Change is hard. If you've ever tried to change a bad habit, you know firsthand just how difficult it can be to consistently make better choices without feeling like you're denying yourself the true pleasures in life.

Why are habits hard to break?
We're all hardwired to form habits. Habitual behaviors form very early on in order to make our lives easier, allow us to multi-task and save our mental energy for the bigger things. Without habits, every action would take deliberate thought and require your complete engagement, but thanks to our ability to form habits, we can all live productive lives.
Thousands of years ago, the habitual brain made it possible for us to survive, but today combined with the modern conveniences of the 21st century, this important life-saving adaptation can oftentimes do us more harm than good. Our propensity to prefer life on autopilot helps us to navigate our homes, use a computer, read a book and more; it's also what's responsible for our poor judgment when it comes to snacking. And marketing companies know this.
It’s important to recognize that the foods you know and love (and are addicted to) have undergone billions of dollars of research to exploit your predisposition toward habit formation; to determine which flavor combinations get you to eat more; what packaging will sell best; even where your favorite foods are located in the supermarket isn't an accident.
With both evolution and clever marketing giants both working against us, it's no wonder so many of us struggle to lose the weight and keep it off.

Identifying the Components of Habits
Many of the habits we have around food, exercise or other lifestyle behaviors are comprised of three distinct ingredients:

  • Cue
  • Behavior
  • Reward

To demonstrate, a habit surrounding food might look like this:
Cue: Hunger; however, it could also be boredom, stress, a certain time of day, the smell of food, hearing others talk about food, seeing a commercial and so on.
Behavior: eat food
Reward: Satiety, relaxation, comfort or nostalgia etc.

Sometimes we feel guilty or disgusted after we eat, but those are secondary feelings; the initial reward still exists. Furthermore, because our brains are so much more complex than a three-step system, it’s often times very difficult to differentiate reward from addiction, particularly when you pepper in clever marketing and early wiring that can occur in childhood or when you're exposed to trauma. All of these combined elements make breaking old habits challenging.

How To Break Bad Food Habits

When we think about changing our habits, it's easy to quickly become overwhelmed or discouraged. That's because when most of us think about change, we first envision the end result. When we recognize just how different the end feels from where we currently are, we imagine that it could only be through an enormous effort that such a pivot could occur. But the truth is, change is about the little things; you don't have to reinvent yourself to see change, you just have to change some of the small things you do (and think about) daily. This is where your habits are made and re-made.

One critical component of this process is to remain positive about yourself and the process. If you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk or you find yourself entertaining the idea of food restriction for punishment or food rewards for behaviors you’d like to see more of, stop. These are not healthy or sustainable mindsets.
Use what you know about habits to learn how to engage in better behaviors that you can still feel good about. For example, if you know you tend to use food after you encounter a stressful situation, be mindful of this fact. Since you likely won’t be able to avoid stress for the rest of your life, begin to explore other tactics for stress relief. You don’t need to completely turn your life upside down for this; while practicing yoga, taking a run or simply enjoying a cup of tea may be very calming for some people, these stress-relieving techniques may be too far outside of the scope of what you’re used to. While they’re great long-term goals to keep in mind, if they’re too big of a leap, you’ll ultimately not get the same reward from them and feel like you’re denying yourself. This will only lead you to mental and emotional fatigue - the opposite of what we’re shooting for.

Using Diet Food to Change Habits

Later on down the road, you might find that when you’re bored, you find that bird watching is very exciting and rewarding; you might find relief from stress in yoga; you may begin to associate snack-o-clock with a time when you automatically reach for an apple instead of the cookies. But today, you’re likely in a place where these are long-term goals. So rather than finding a whole new activity that brings you relaxation, comfort or excitement, let’s simply find a better food that offers the same rewards.
This is where many people have trouble because it's very difficult to find adequate replacements for the sweet and salty snacks you crave. We already know that a stick of celery will simply never be a comparison for Cheez-Its, but it can be equally difficult to find a specialty diet food replacement that really hits the spot.

Bariatric Chocolate Chip Cookies
At Bariatric Direct, we specialize in foods that look, feel and taste like the snacks and comfort meals you're used to. Our foods are designed to address your cravings so that when you eat them, you're satisfied and not looking for more. Replacing a tasty snack with its most similar alternative is a great way to slowly move away from your old habits while losing weight and gaining confidence! With high-protein and low-calorie options, you'll ultimately consume less without having to expend a ton of additional mental energy on food preparation. That means you can focus your efforts on conjunctive weight loss tactics such as exercising more, diving deeper into that self-help book you've been wanting to crack open and simply staying positive.

Check out our additional tips for breaking habits and weight loss in our recent New Years blog.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Benefits of the Bariatric Weight Loss App & Tracker

There's nothing like seeing progress unfolding. The first time it became more natural to reach for a healthy snack instead of an unhealthy one, another pound off the scale or a finished workout are all incomparable feelings fueled by your own achievements.
As you're ramping up your weight loss journey, you'll benefit from incorporating a few valuable tools into your everyday life. Among these might be a food journal or calorie counting app, a step counter or fitness tracker, a scale that can calculate some essential metrics including BMI, and any other management apps or methods that'll help you stay on track, motivated and accountable.

The Bariatric Health & Wellness app features a set of integrated tools designed with you in mind. The app works in conjunction with a range of trackers and scales to help you keep score of your progress by monitoring your food and water intake, exercise and weight loss.

Benefits of a Fitness Tracker

There's nothing like having an accountabilibuddy by your side; working together with a close friend provides motivation when you need it most and offers feedback in real time. However, busy lives and demanding schedules make it difficult to coordinate workouts and jam sessions among friends, which can lead to slowed progress and stagnation. Eventually without proper accountability, you'll stop meeting your goals and take more and more shortcuts through your exercise routines and meal planning.
A tracker takes many of the benefits of having a friend right by your side and makes them accessible at any time, anywhere.  The Bariatric Health & Wellness tracker is designed to help you increase your physical activity, record your steps and active time, and achieve the results you're looking for.

Count Steps & Active Time

New research shows that developing an active lifestyle is paramount to your health. Regular physical activity improves circulation, flexibility and strength, and promotes a healthier weight. People who can maintain a healthy weight and waist circumference significantly reduce their risks for a variety of debilitating illnesses including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and several types of cancer.
To keep with the American Heart Association's recommendation, you'll need to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week. That may sound like a lot, but it breaks down to just 30 minutes per day, five times a week, and a fitness tracker will help you to reach and maintain that goal. Whether you're into walking, gardening, swimming, dancing, hiking or yoga, every step and activity counts toward meeting your goal.

Get Results

A tracker that integrates with an app makes recording valuable data seamless. Having your daily exercise data on hand ensures you have access to all of your progress, since day one of your journey. Dive into granular data week over week or get a broader overview by checking your calorie deficits month over month or even year over year. You'll be able to take pride in knowing you've reached your goals, and find reassurance in easy-to-understand visual data that breaks down steps, movement and calories burned.
The Bariatric Health & Wellness app works in real-time so you'll never have to track your movement separately or enter it manually. In combination with the weight loss scale, which additionally records your weight, BMI and your lean body mass in real time, you'll be able to get the most complete and well-rounded picture of your daily progress.

Patients who use the app report improved motivation & continue their weight loss program longer and that's no surprise. With so many integrated features including access to a coach when you need that additional boost of motivation, it's easier to stay on track longer and replace old habits with better, healthier ones.

Saturday, January 4, 2020