The Stages To Changing Eating Behaviour

In order to successfully lose weight, lifestyle changes such as increased activity and changes in eating behaviours are necessary. Many people find that breaking their usual eating habits can be so difficult that it becomes the root cause of failure behind dieting. Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to changing eating habits;

  1. Change what you are eating
  2. Change the amount of what you are eating

To maximise weight loss in the long term, both should factors should be assessed and modified but it’s not a good idea to change both at the same time. Many people find that modifying both factors at once is difficult for them to adjust to, and eventually fall back into their typical unhealthy eating habits.

A Finnish study from 2016 found that almost half of their participants reported slow weight loss primarily through dietary changes. Their dietary changes included an increase in their intake of vegetables, reduction in sweets and fast food and regularly eating small meals. Many participants also found it helpful to regularly weigh themselves (1). The study participants also reported it helpful to apply The Plate Model – a visual method in which a dinner plate serves as a pie chart, which covers the recommended proportions of various food groups (2).

Previous studies have found that when individuals are provided with larger food and beverage portions, there will be a substantial increase in energy intake (3). When these larger portions are offered over weeks, they can contribute to onset of obesity (4). There have been multiple strategies such as tools and education which have been suggested to effectively manage portion sizes, but data is limited as to whether these methods can lead to long term changes and improvements in eating behaviours (5). Studies which offer participants pre-portioned foods have demonstrated successful weight loss and management; however this does not prove participants gained a better understanding of appropriate proportions (6).

Portion control is vital for weight management, but individuals should not be urged to ‘eat less’ of everything as foods have different energy densities. A more effective strategy would be to encourage individuals to increase portion sizes of low energy density foods and reduce portions of high energy foods, so that foods are still satisfying and body weight can be better managed (5).

Changing eating behaviours does not need to be difficult; keeping in mind the above two approaches for better eating habits, the following tips can help you change and reduce your food choices;

  • Use smaller plates, or opt for pre-packaged portion controlled foods
  • Share a full sized meal and avoid super-sizing meals when eating out
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Aim to eat small healthy snacks throughout the day to avoid over-indulgence at meal times
  • Gradually reduce portion sizes until you feel you’ve reached the ideal size
  • Keep your diet balanced by introducing a variety of foods
  • Pre-plan meals so that you can choose healthier options and prepare in advance with a shopping list when doing groceries
  • Remove temptations from your home if you feel you’re likely to over-indulge
  • Take an interest in cooking, you can do this by joining cooking classes, sharing recipes with friends and looking into cookbooks and food magazines
  • Practise these change habits consciously for a few weeks until they become unconscious decisions

Behaviour modification is reliant on your own intention to change. You must be ready to accept change, develop a plan and set goals for yourself to stay motivated and on track. Changing long term habits can be challenging if you have personal barriers to overcome which can demotivate you with never ending excuses and a negative attitude.

For more information on changing eating behaviours, see our nutrition and weight management course here;

  1. Soini, S., Mustajoki, P. and Eriksson, J.G., 2016. Weight loss methods and changes in eating habits among successful weight losers.Annals of medicine48(1-2), pp.76-82.
  2. Camelon, K.M., Hådell, K., T JÄMSÉN, P.Ä.I.V.I., Ketonen, K.J., Kohtamäki, H.M., MÄKIMATILLA, S., Törmälä, M.L., Valve, R.H. and DAIS PROJECT GROUP, 1998. The Plate Model: a visual method of teaching meal planning.Journal of the American Dietetic Association98(10), pp.1155-1158.
  3. Rolls, B.J., Morris, E.L. and Roe, L.S., 2002. Portion size of food affects energy intake in normal-weight and overweight men and women.The American journal of clinical nutrition76(6), pp.1207-1213.
  4. Nielsen, S.J. and Popkin, B.M., 2003. Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977-1998.Jama289(4), pp.450-453.
  5. Rolls, B.J., 2014. What is the role of portion control in weight management?.International Journal of Obesity38, pp.S1-S8.
  6. Wing, R.R., Jeffery, R.W., Burton, L.R., Thorson, C., Nissinoff, K.S. and Baxter, J.E., 1996. Food provision vs structured meal plans in the behavioral treatment of obesity.International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity20(1), pp.56-62.

This article has been republished with the kind permission of Future Fit Training Academy, a UK based training academy with over twenty five years of experience in offering diplomas and courses in personal training, nutrition and pilates. 

Top Five Nutrition Myths

Eating healthy is a surprisingly easy concept; we simply need to eat well to feed our bodies. However so many ideologies make nutrition out to be much more complicated than it actually is; which can be quite stressful when you’re trying to lose weight or simply wanting to adopt a healthier diet. Food is actually a big business for many people, which is why you’ll have noticed multiple diet trends being promoted online and new products appearing weekly in your local grocery store. New diet buzz words such as ‘Atkins’, ‘Paleo’, ‘Superfoods’ and so on can leave people feeling confused, misinformed and in more extreme cases, malnourished even.

Don’t let the following common nutrition myths stop you from enjoying what you eat;

  1. Eating Late At Night Can Cause Weight Gain

It was previously proposed that limited or avoiding food in the evening can work as a successful weight loss strategy and improve body composition. Negative outcomes have been found in populations who prefer to consume large and mixed meals in the night but recently more data appears to suggest that the food choices – not the timing, are responsible for unwanted weight gain (1). In fact, one study suggests that consuming around 150kcals as a night time snack can actually be beneficial for muscle protein synthesis (1).

  1. Consuming A High Amount Of Protein Can Spontaneously Build Up Muscle

To build up muscle, we know that a combination of adequate calories, a high protein intake and an exercise programs are required. However the timing of protein intake is crucial for building up muscle mass. A review article from 2012 suggests that protein supplementation both before and after a workout can promote physical performance, muscle recovery, strength and muscle hypertrophy (2). Ideally, a fast-acting carbohydrate source should be consumed along with a protein source for greater muscle protein synthesis and strength (2).

  1. Brown Bread Is Healthier Than White Bread

A recent study which looked at the effects of white bread versus brown sourdough bread found no significant differences in glycaemic control. Participants were reported to have various responses which seemed to be dependant on their existing gut bacteria (3). Although wholemeal bread is an excellent source of fibre which can promote digestion and help individuals feel fuller for longer (4).

  1. Water Is Sufficient Hydration After Exercise

Sweat contains water, sodium and multiple electrolytes and it is recommended that individuals begin their workouts when they are adequately hydrated (5). Ideally up to 600mL of fluid should be consumed two hours before exercise and a small amount of fluid should be consumed every twenty minutes of exercise (5). When the exercise is less than ninety minutes, water alone is enough to rehydrate but commercially available electrolyte drinks should be considered when exercise is prolonged, in hot weather or when meals are not calorie-adequate (5).

  1. Fish-based omega-3 fatty acids alone are sufficient in a diet

Omega-3 is widely credited for multiple health benefits such as brain and cognitive function development, to improving cardiac health (6). Fish-based omega-3 fatty acids (commonly EPA and DHA) are known to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (7) whereas plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (commonly ALA) offer different benefits such as wound healing (8) therefore both fish and plant based omega-3 sources should always be included in a healthy diet.

For more information on nutrition, see our How To Become A Nutrition Advisor Course here;


  1. Kinsey, A.W. and Ormsbee, M.J., 2015. The health impact of nighttime eating: old and new perspectives.Nutrients7(4), pp.2648-2662.
  2. Stark, M., Lukaszuk, J., Prawitz, A. and Salacinski, A., 2012. Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training.Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition9(1), p.54.
  3. Korem, Zeevi, D., Zmora, N., 2017. Bread Affects Clinical Parameters and Induces Gut Microbiome-Associated Personal Glycemic Responses. Cell Metabolism, 25 (6), pp.1243-1253.e5
  4. Anderson, J.W., Baird, P., Davis, R.H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., Waters, V. and Williams, C.L., 2009. Health benefits of dietary fiber.Nutrition reviews67(4), pp.188-205.
  5. Latzka, W.A. and Montain, S.J., 1999. Water and electrolyte requirements for exercise.Clinics in sports medicine18(3), pp.513-524.
  6. Ruxton, C., 2004. Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.Nursing standard18(48), pp.38-42.
  7. Swanson, D., Block, R. and Mousa, S.A., 2012. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life.Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal3(1), pp.1-7.
  8. McCusker, M.M. and Grant-Kels, J.M., 2010. Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids.Clinics in Dermatology28(4), pp.440-451.


This article has been republished with the kind permission of Future Fit Training Academy, a UK based training academy with over twenty five years of experience in offering diplomas and courses in personal training, nutrition and pilates. 

Top Five Foods Good For The Skin

The food that you eat not only reflects on your waistline, but also on your skin. There is a growing body of research which suggests that your diet can make a vast difference to your complexion, this is because foods can affect hormone balance, trigger inflammation associated with skin aging and even cause breakouts. Beauty comes from within, and in terms of your skin this couldn’t be truer.

These are the top five foods which have been proven to have beneficial effects on the skin;

  1. Dark Chocolate

This sweet treat has antioxidant properties which can help to hydrate the skin and improve blood circulation giving you a healthy pink glow. One study demonstrated in women who consumed cocoa powder drinks, rich in cocoa flavanol – a compound found in dark chocolate, had less scaliness and roughness on their skin as opposed to the control group (1). However, if you’re not a fan of dark chocolate and want to avoid the extra calories, applying it topically can temporarily reduce puffiness in the skin due to the caffeine found in the chocolate (2).

2. Fish

Most fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory. This can help fight and prevent acne, as inflammation is understood to be the root cause of acne and unsightly breakouts (3).

3. Eggs

Eggs have been found to control excess melanin synthesis in human skin, which means they can act to control hyperpigmentation (4). High fat diets are associated with premature aging skin (5) whereas eggs contain vitamin A, which is involved in promoting the development of new skin cells and wound healing. The essential factor vitamin A, was discovered in 1909 in egg yolk, and since then research has found that vitamin A improves skin texture and appearance, and can even increase the thickness of the epidermis (6).

4. Green Tea

Green tea has been cited for countless benefits for our overall health and wellbeing, however in terms of skin benefits, the high antioxidant levels in green tea are anti-inflammatory and even anti-carcinogenic as they boost blood circulation and oxygen towards the skin (7). One study even found that participants who drank green tea on a daily basis for three months had more elastic and smooth skin and approximately one-quarter less sun damage when their skin was exposed to UV lights (7)

5. All fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and vitamins which all have numerous benefits for the skin. Some of these antioxidants can protect the skin from cellular damage that is a result of external factors, such as smoking, pollution or direct sunlight. Vitamins are essential to promote normal and healthy skin cell development and skin tone (8).

Remember that along with these foods, water is absolutely essential for healthy, glowing skin. Your skin needs moisture to maintain elasticity and to avoid drying out and looking dull. It is recommended that you consume six to eight glasses of water day to maintain a healthy glow and for your body to stay hydrated.

For more information on foods which are good for your skin, see the nutrition and weight management course here;


  1. Heinrich, U., Neukam, K., Tronnier, H., Sies, H. and Stahl, W., 2006. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.The Journal of nutrition136(6), pp.1565-1569.
  2. Kiefer, D. and Pantuso, T., 2012. Omega-3 fatty acids: An update emphasizing clinical use.Agro food industry hi-tech23(4), p.10.
  3. Katiyar, S.K., Ahmad, N. and Mukhtar, H., 2000. Green tea and skin.Archives of Derma-tology136(8), pp.989-994.
  4. Miranda, J.M., Anton, X., Redondo-Valbuena, C., Roca-Saavedra, P., Rodriguez, J.A., Lamas, A., Franco, C.M. and Cepeda, A., 2015. Egg and egg-derived foods: effects on human health and use as functional foods.Nutrients7(1), pp.706-729.
  5. Schagen, S.K., Zampeli, V.A., Makrantonaki, E. and Zouboulis, C.C., 2012. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging.Dermato-endocrinology4(3), pp.298-307.
  6. Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V., Korting, H.C., Roeder, A. and Weindl, G., 2006. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety.Clinical interventions in Aging1(4), p.327.
  7. Heinrich, U., Moore, C.E., De Spirt, S., Tronnier, H. and Stahl, W., 2011. Green tea polyphenols provide photoprotection, increase microcirculation, and modulate skin properties of women.The Journal of nutrition141(6), pp.1202-1208.
  8. Slavin, J.L. and Lloyd, B., 2012. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables.Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal3(4), pp.506-516

This article has been republished with the kind permission of Future Fit Training Academy, a UK based training academy with over twenty five years of experience in offering diplomas and courses in personal training, nutrition and pilates.