Published on January 27th, 2013 | by George Conte0
Healthy eating habits with Stages of Change Theory
Every New Year or just before the summer comes, there are people that take the decision to change their lives by adopting new healthy eating habits. They promise themselves that from now on they will eat better, will not smoke, will exercise, etc. But survey data show that only 50% of people keep such promises after 6 months, and only 10% after 1 year.
So if you’re one of those people that decided to change your habits and afterwards you did not succeed, that means that you just were not ready at that specific moment for a change.
Stages of Change Theory
A theory that is used by health care professionals is the “Stages of Change Theory”. This is based on the fact that change usually never comes suddenly from one day to another, but goes through various stages. When one recognizes how ready he is for a change of attitude, this will facilitate the process.
The stages are as follows:
Decision-making stage (not ready):
In this stage the person is not even considering the possibility of change. He believes that he is not concerned. People at this stage have made many efforts to lose weight without results and have now abandoned any effort.
Contemplation stage (getting ready):
In this stage the person is thinking and worried about a change. Thinking of the sense of loss that will have if change, eg will not be able to enjoy their favorite foods. At this stage basically evaluates the pros and cons of this change.
Preparation stage (ready):
In this stage the person is preparing to make the switch. He can experiment with small changes, such as eating more fruits or drinking more water. This may be a sign that he is ready for more change.
At this stage the person is taking action, trying to change a behavior. This can be for example completely stop eating sweets, consuming fewer amounts of food, etc. This stage is important but it isn’t more important than the other stages. If the previous steps have been overtaken quickly without much thought, then the action taking stage may be temporary. Therefore it is important to think well and be well prepared before we make big changes in diet and lifestyle.
In this stage the change is stabilized and the new behavior is incorporated in a person’s life. However it should be noted that before going to the maintenance stage, the action stage can last long enough to prevent a relapse. This is because relapse may cause the person to become frustrated and give up. However, according to this theory, the relapse is not failure but an opportunity to learn from a person’s unsuccessful efforts, thereby increasing the chances of success in future endeavors.
Many people live forever in the maintenance stage. They could always feel with cravings for certain foods and constantly struggling to cope. This is normal. However, some people manage to have no temptation. This is quite rare, so we usually refer only 5 stages of change.
How can the Stages of Change Theory help you?
Now that you understand how the psychology of changing habits works you can actually identify at what stage you are. This can help you successfully change any bad habits you have by completing all the stages in order and with the best possible way.
For example you should never rush and decrease food consumption from 3000 calories (mainly coming from fat) to 1000 calories in one day. This is not just physically unhealthy but also psychologically impossible according to the stages theory. You should instead think what you want to achieve, how many pounds of fat to lose, make a diet plan, get ready and then take action. Finally maintain the new healthy habits (like exercise often) so there is no relapse. This way for every goal you have, your success is guaranteed!