6 Health Behavioral Modifications for Healthy Food

Healthy Food

Your health goals – prepare, practice, prevail

This is a world where economies are sustained, policies worth billion dollars made across geographies. Welcome to the world of health economics, where information of every sort woven into the very fundamentals of nutrition.

Learning from our own mistake is bygone in today’s time. Now rational decision-making is a tool to live healthy, wealthy and happy life following ‘nudge’ a term coined by Nobel Prize winner economist, Thaler.

Nudge draws human psychology and thinking to better the decision-making of an individual. By health behavioral modifications without any subsequent compulsion.

Behavioral economics: An Intriguing Factor

Nobel Prize winner Richard H Thaler (2018) has been much acclaimed for his remarkable contributions in the field of “Behavioral Economics”. One can easily draw the analogy from his empirical findings and insights of his Nudge theory, which are instrumental in getting to the thoughts of people in choosing between two options.

It is a human tendency that people go for easiest over the wisest, even presenting with facts about healthy eating people tend to choose processed foods like burger and chips over healthy alternatives.

Poor decision, lack of thinking on time and lethargic habits account for picking the wrong one even knowing its negative impacts on health. Having captured the essence of “Behavioral Economics”, the theory aligned itself accordingly and is poised to become one of the most profitable panaceas to all health-related issues.

Triad of Behavioral Economics, Psychology and Economics-

Thaler suggests that triad of behavioral economics, psychology, and economics contribute to irrational decision-making.

Decisions such as whether to go to graduate school, whether to continue on healthy lifestyle or how to save money for the retirement makes an important part of one’s planning in their life at one point of time.

Behavioral economics explains why an individual decides one thing instead of going for other alternatives. Also, behavioral economics can direct any individual in making rational decisions on health and happiness.

Thaler’s nudge theory improves self-control towards beneficial health behavioral modifications in terms of healthy eating habits.

# Nudge 1- For School/ College by Rearranging the Cafeteria

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Without changing any menus experiment with the way food is displayed and arranged influence the choice of kids. This experiment can be achieved by keeping healthy foods like fruit salad at the eye level and processed foods at the last counter.

Make healthy food a default option, for example replacing French fries with sliced apples in children’s meal and limiting portion sizes as well.

As a nutritionist, I’m sure this will surely increase the consumption of healthy foods and decrease that of unhealthy ones. By changing the way of context in which people will make decisions with possible alternatives to go with.

# Nudge 2- For Patients Providing them with Alternative Treatment Plans

A doctor can help a patient by providing alternative treatment plans so that one can go with a proper health plan that suits best to the patient. For instance, if you are suffering from chronic kidney disease and doctor proposes kidney transplant.

You will definitely want to know about the odds. Now a doctor can nudge by positive framing of the statement. For instance, “out of hundred patients who went for a kidney transplant, ninety are leading a healthy and normal life after six years.

Rather than a negative statement, “out of hundred patients ten are dead after kidney transplant”.

Even doctors are more likely to recommend the operation/ transplant responding to the framing effects of the two contrasting statements as mentioned above (1).

# Nudge 3- Healthy Eating by Resisting Temptation (2)

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When you are hungry and have an appetite for pizza as aromas coming from the kitchen, you are said to be in a hot state. When you think of pizza that you will consume on Sunday before dinner, you are in a cold state. As mentioned by behavioral economist George Loewenstein (1996) ‘hot-cold empathy gap’ (3).

It does not confirm that decisions/ desires made in cold state will not be altered when we are under the influence of arousal. These conditions can possibly explain the reason behind failure in exercise, quit smoking and alcohol.

# Nudge 4- Transform following the Herd

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Humans like to confirm other humans and learn from social influences. Ingredients of social nudge involve information and peer pressure or priming.

To its evidence one of the research findings also prove that obesity is contagious. In other words, if your friend is obese or overweight, you are likely to become to gain weight (4).

# Nudge 5- The Default Rule at your Rescue in Effective Decision Making

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The default rule basically comes at your rescue when you are uncertain in decision-making. For instance, whether investing or not in a healthcare plan, organ donation or savings for future. In this government official or private sectors can play a major role.

Further, in setting one policy as the default option if it results in effective outcome over numerous other options.

According to The World Health Report 2000 pronounced that increased public financing for healthcare is an integral part of the endeavor to achieve equity of access (5).

# Nudge 6- Self Control Approaches to harness the power of Nudge

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Recent studies in Neuroeconomics demonstrate the evidence of a bimodal system of self-control. To clarify, a myopic ‘doer’ increases arousal behavior and a far-sighted ‘planner’ that suppress temptation.

In case of smoking and over-eating, the two sides of the brain are in conflict. Either it will stop you or tempt you as one is bound to lose.

Tip: Get small packets of food you like a small plate and never keep tempting food in your refrigerator.

Bottom-line-

Appraisal tendency framework curtails rationality in decision-making. As different emotions trigger different cognitive and motivational way that limits the time to make decisions.

This can be achieved by better placement of healthier foods on the shelves of a supermarket. In addition, updating one’s kitchen cabinet with healthier alternatives.

Making rational decisions while picking up foods in grocery shop with a guided motivation.

Rational decision-making serves as a raw material to build a healthy foundation of an individual. A shift in thinking approach will surely lift your nutritional status by fostering healthy eating habits.

References:

  • Thaler R.H, Sunstein C.R (2008). Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. New York:  Yale University Press.
  • Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. ‘The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice’. Science 211 (1981): 453- 58.
  • Thaler, R.H, and Shefrin H.M. ‘An Economic Theory of Self Control’. Journal of Political Economy 89 (1981): 392-406.
  • Loewenstein G. ‘Out of control: Visceral Influences on Behavior’. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 65 (1996): 272-92.
  • Cialdini R. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: Quill, 1993.
  • World Health Organization. World Health Report 2000- Health systems: Improving performance Geneva: World Health Organization; 2000.

7 Powerful Behavioral Hacks for Healthy Weight Loss-

Healthy Weight Loss

Unsure of how to lose weight in a healthy way? Have diets you tried in the past did not deliver as proclaimed?

We indulge in one of a type of diet, as advertised to lose weight instantly, kicked off well, and then suddenly lose interest. Maybe due to meal restrictions, boredom, or could not match up to the diet plan and quit.

What’s next? We should try some other popular diet available or just let go of the desire of losing weight or pop weight loss pills that have flourished in the market?

Globally, obesity is a widespread metabolic problem and its frequency has tripled over the last four decades as reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Obesity, the word in itself is enough to give chills to the spine of an obese person. In today’s fast pace world, weight loss and weight management seem invincible leading to a lot of stress.

The article explores weight management and eating behavior in context to self-regulation and motivation to long-term weight control.
The good news is that with an adept management technique you can reduce excess weight.

Right Approach- The very first response that triggers one’s mind is to abstain from food that leads to crash diet ultimately double weight gain. In contrary to it, behavior modification will serve as a motivating fuel to achieve weight goals.

How can you differentiate between obesity and overweight?

The definition for obesity and overweight is based on BMI or Body Mass Index. BMI or Body Mass Index is a parameter of weight-for-height to categorize adults into overweight or obesity.

BMI is measured as weight in kilograms divided by square of height in meters that is, (kg/m2) for adults.

  • Obesity: BMI >=30 kg/m2
  • Overweight: BMI>=25 kg/m2

Why these factors matter?

Experts have proven that factors like overweight, obesity and related factors such as over-eating, environmental factors are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and so on.

In addition, eating practices play a greater role in the development of effective interventions for healthy weight loss program.

Weight loss is challenging, the option is plenty but an effective solution to healthy weight loss rely on our behavior and how we modify them.

Recent researches have advocated skill power over will power to lose weight and keep it off.

In this article, I’ll discuss ‘Skill Power’ techniques that comprise powerful behavioral hacks or habits that can be tailored according to your requirements.

Firstly, track the type of hunger and before you eat anything you need to learn how to differentiate different types of hunger which are as follows:

  • Nutritional hunger- The trigger: starvation of nutrients

          Your action: Eat the right amount of nutrient and at the right time

  • Thirst hunger- The trigger: growling and empty stomach feeling, lack of water intake

         Your action: stay hydrated

  • Low blood sugar hungerThe trigger: hypoglycemia, dizziness, weakness

         Your action: Check your blood sugar levels, don’t skip dinner

  • Variety hungerThe trigger: A craving for something sweet, salty or creamy

          Your action: opt for low-calorie foods and go for portion control

  • Emotional hungerThe trigger: stress, anxiety or fear

         Your action: Seek ways to satisfy emotional voids

Harness Health benefits of Seasonal Foods

Get access to seasonal whole foods such as fruits and vegetables from your local farm or markets. These produce are usually fresher, palatable, healthy and cheaper when it is in season.

Seasonal produce also adds more color and variety in your diet; experts recommend about five servings of fruits and vegetables in one’s meal.

Read on: 10 Superfoods to Add to your Diet this Winter

Escape the Sugar Trap

According to experts, sugar acts as an addictive agent as it brings the neurobiological changes similar to those in drug addiction.

Sugar, a refined carbohydrate is a key ingredient in processed foods and drinks.

Now international dietary guidelines encourage minimizing sugar consumption mainly monosaccharide and disaccharide added to foods, fruit juices or drinks has been linked to atopic asthma.

Do Not Skip Breakfast

Breakfast is an utmost important part of a meal so do not skip breakfast. A good and healthy breakfast fuels your body and makes you ready for the day- it is one of the healthy behavioral hacks.

Include high fiber food in your breakfast such as oats, whole grains and products, nuts, fruita and vegetables.

Those who skip breakfast lead an unhealthy lifestyle in terms of poor dietary intake, frequent smoking and alcohol consumption, hormonal imbalances and altered biological clock.

Food addiction model suggests excessive consumption of sugar leads to binging behavior.

Eating a healthy breakfast maintains a healthier weight, cardiac and gut health. It has been proven in research that skipping breakfast has a strong correlation to the risk of developing atherosclerosis that involves hardening of arteries.

Portion Control

Familiarize yourself with standard serving sizes. Did you know that one serving of pasta is only 1/2 cup or about the front of the clenched fist? Or the recommended serving size of meat is only 3 ounce about the size of your palm?

Stay Focused for Positive Change

If you are struggling to adapt to certain behavior change such as taking up a particular diet, learn meditation or practice any physical activity. For instance, to shed those extra kilos or maintain optimal health-need not worry at all.

Research suggests it takes probably three months to change behaviors and if this change is for a healthier version of you the just stay motivated, focused and keep a check on your progress.

Related Post: 6 Health Behavioral Modifications to go for Healthy Food

Set Small and Realistic Goals-

A healthy approach involves taking small and realistic steps today to impact your health tomorrow. Do not indulge in any short-term or long-term methods rather give attention to whatever you do daily.

Bring a shift in your behavior gradually to incorporate healthy choices into your weight loss plan.

Focus to improve diet rather adapt to a certain diet. Do not set any goal solely to lose weight rather focus on overall health.

Related Post: 7 Ways to bring your Hormones into Harmony to Lose Weight

Quit Sugar and Salt with Health Behavioral Modification

Before investing investing in for a certain for a product to attain your health goals understand its repercussions.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 Quit Sugar- An approach to change your Diet Plan

‘One cannot fit a square peg in a round hole’. This analogy fits with the diets that work for everybody but didn’t pay off you in the long-term.

Because some diet or foods are not right for you, for your metabolism or your condition.

Here, come in play your genes and environment that influence on what and how much you eat .There is no term for bad food, only food products are used wrongly.

For instance, when one tries to forcibly fit a particular food to fulfill a need that is not intended for, it is likely to fail.

As in case of hidden sugar and sodium in processed foods. It is important to take into account the suitability of a food product.

To map it to your health goal, and preferences to get the best out of it.

A health behavioral modification is all about a modified eating habit and exercise that we hear so many times? Maybe not, because a macro-shift in choices you make each day is enough.

Such as experimentation with the low-fat diet or Mediterranean diet. Spend time in grocery shopping rather than watching T.V. This could be achieved when you set small and accurate goals. Also, put off the ‘doer’ that arouses temptation of over-eating.

 The Credibility of a Food Product

When your efforts are for long-term health goals like getting rid of those extra kilos or pain-free mornings.

It is inertia that keeps you from investing in choices that are designed healthy for an overall well-being. For this, one must go for a healthier version of the food.

A better option would be to understand the risks associated with the products available. Then select those that are best suited to your needs.

The Underlying Risk in Fixed Returns 

Processed foods, excess salt, sugar, and its products are easily available. It may be suitable when needed to eat something in an instant, while in a meeting or college fest, but it will harm you in return. 

So go for nutrients and not calories when you are hungry.

When Market dictates Food Preferences 

If you are inclined to invest in products depending upon how markets are expecting you to choose from. It is likely that your food choices are not aligned with health goals.

There is a need for skill, informed choices and time to make alterations based on expected market movement. Become your own choice architect to your health and well-being.

Identify foods that are structured to meet your needs. Make a habit to see to the pros and cons of each food product you buy and evaluate its consequences.

Sugar Withdrawl: An innocuous source of energy or not?

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What happens when you Quit Sugar? Sugar or dietary sugar falls under the carbohydrate category of food groups. Sugar forms a major portion of nutritive calorie in the human population.

Recent studies suggest that our body’s own detoxification system can overcome the deleterious effect of high blood sugar. Body’s own fat metabolism is the in-built detoxification system. 

A chemical reaction that involves a type of metabolite, ketone acetoacetate a by-product from fat metabolism quenches the reactive by-product of sugar metabolism that is, methylglyoxal which is toxic to the cells.

A 2018 report published in the Psychopharmacology Journal stated psychological factors to be the leading cause of anxiety, and mood disorders under hypoglycemic condition.

Scientists observed a bad eating behavior to be at fault. It is associated with sluggish nature and stress resulting from high levels of corticosteroid.

The drop in activity levels enhanced when given antidepressants rather glucose. Hence, identify your stressors whether it is nutritional hunger or emotional hunger and employ healthy eating habits into a possible remedy.

Halt the salt in your kitchen: Best Health Tip 

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Although salt is essential for the normal functioning of the body but the sodium in salt with potassium maintains fluid levels in the body.  Thereby, sodium facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses and the contraction of muscle fibers.

But all this process requires less than one-tenth of a teaspoon per day. Choose fresh herbs and spices as an alternative to salt to flavor your dishes. It helps to minimize the risk of high blood pressure.

Related: Simple Swaps to employ Dash Diet

The bottom line:

When you find yourself either cutting back on your health goals like restoring to sugary products. Despite, having invested in a healthier version of food as you assume. It indicates that the money and time may be in the wrong food product.

A good diet should offer a plenty of choices, relatively few restrictions. With no expensive special foods on your grocery list. It should be something you can sustain for years.

It should be as good for your brain, heart, gut, bones as it is for your waistline.

This type of diet won’t give you a quick-fix but arsenal with a better nudge towards long-term healthy choices.

This will benefit not just a few people but a whole of you.

 

Thank you for reading!