As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at UConn Health, every day I am educating patients on their diet for various reasons.
Perhaps it’s how to eat a lower-fat, healthier diet to lose weight, how to eat a consistent carbohydrate meal plan to achieve better glucose control, or how to improve gastrointestinal symptoms by making dietary modifications. Whatever it is, it involves change. As we all know, achieving change can be overwhelming.
Why is that? In the Fogg Behavior Model explained in the book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, author B.J. Fogg explains that there is a relationship between three factors: motivation, ability, and prompt. He explains that motivation can be on a scale of 0 to 10, and the higher your motivation the easier it is to do something. However, we need something to prompt us to do something. These prompts or cues for me could be that before I go downstairs, I bring my running clothes and sneakers so it is easy to put them on and do my morning run.
Another important point is to have specific little habits that you do which will add up to losing weight versus having a goal of just losing weight. An example could be, every time I sit down to eat I am going to drink 2 cups of water. This will fill me up and help me to eat less at that meal, and help me stay hydrated. Perhaps feeling good about drinking those 6 cups of water will help you to then eat at least half of the plate of veggies. One good tiny habit leads to the other.
How many times have you heard to do a half hour of aerobic exercise every day? Perhaps if you try to do a five-minute walk at the same time every day, you will be successful at being consistent in that five-minute walk and gradually will increase your walk to 10 minutes and so on until you get to your goal of 30 minutes each day. Eventually, walking for a half hour and drinking two cups of water before each meal will become a habit.
So next time you want to make a change such as learn a language, lose some weight, or become a better listener, break it down and achieve one tiny habit at a time.
—Linda York M.S., R.D., CDCES
Linda York is a Sodexo dietitian who works in the outpatient clinic at UConn Health.