This summer my 7-year old son decided he wanted to learn how to play the piano. My husband is (sort of) musically inclined, so after careful deliberation we decided to start lessons. During his first lesson he learned the way a piano is set up, the notes, and the very basics about reading music. He was instructed to practice for 3 minutes every day. Only 3 minutes, but it had to be every day. After several days of practicing only 3 minutes and a couple of lessons he assumed he should be able to easily play the piano. He was disappointed that he was not able to easily play songs, not realizing it takes many years and hours of practice to get to a point of actually playing the piano.
Similarities to changing your eating habits
There are a lot of similarities when people want to change their eating habits. Many people make this decision because they recognize the way they eat affects their energy level, their sleep, the way their joints feel, their blood sugar fluctuations, their digestion, their poops, their immune system, just to name a few symptoms. Changing the way you eat involves addressing various issues:
- Some involve retraining your mindset if you have been following the Standard American Diet. Sometimes you need to start with the very basics-do you know what foods are considered proteins, fats, and carbohydrates? Do you understand the concept of balancing these macronutrients? Do you know what kinds of fats are nourishing and healthy? Do you understand appropriate portions? If you do understand these concepts, are you practicing them? If not, what are the barriers?
- Others involve addressing your attitude toward food. What do you consider comfort foods? Do you have a positive or negative relationship with food? Do you use food as a stress reliever? If so, addressing your habits is a necessary component of changing eating habits.
- Your lifestyle also needs to be considered-Do you cook? If not, do you know how and are you willing to start? If you do cook, how savvy are you in the kitchen? Are you willing to try new recipes? Do you need recipes provided or do you feel comfortable searching for recipes on your own? Are you preparing meals for yourself only or do you have family to consider? If you have a family do they share your desire to improve eating habits? How often do you dine out?
- Addressing symptoms or medical issues through food often means a complete change in the way you feed yourself. You may need to incorporate foods you’ve never used before (think fermented foods or a variety of vegetables). If that’s the case it takes time to understand how to incorporate them into your eating routine.
- Finding access to nutrient dense food is also a discussion. As we don’t typically find most of our nutrients in the average grocery store. Understanding the concept of this change, identifying alternatives, and implementing them takes time.
Just as you wouldn’t expect to learn to play the piano or become a competitive athlete in one instruction, or even a couple of weeks you must also know that a change in eating, something that we most often find very personal, takes time and persistence. There are adjustments, trials, setbacks, baby steps, ah-hah moments, epiphanies, and eventually change will come. It’s a journey, sometimes a longer one than we ever realized. One that can not be fixed by one visit to the dietitian. In a world of instant gratification it sometimes seems like a long and tedious process, but finding ways to enjoy the journey is part of the learning process.