by Sharon Madigan Phd Rd

Seems like a simple enough question. You would think!
Much time, effort and money is spent on thinking about, and determining, what and how much to eat. The next best thing, the best supplement, the best diet. These questions are often asked when discussing weight loss or performance enhancement strategies when it comes to sport. Equally important, if not more so, can often be the understanding why we eat. You would think that most of us eat because we are hungry but often that’s nothing to do with why we eat. More often other reasons are cited for why we eat: boredom, stress, it was time to eat, other people were eating, food was placed in front of you, you were already in the kitchen, you were at a social gathering, it smelled good, etc.
And why do you stop eating?

The food was gone, other people were watching you eat, you go to bed, lunch time over
Rarely do we eat simply out of hunger. In fact, we make over hundreds of decisions about food everyday some of which are active conscious decisions, but for some of us many are subconscious. Think about the biscuits you forgot you ate last night when watching TV.
So the idea that we can just change what you think around food and your habits with a quick change in what you are eating can be a challenge. It takes time, effort, challenging yourself to adapt to new habits especially when you are under pressure. Most of us know what we should eat and how much but certain situations and have big impacts on our ability to stick with these changes. In my experience smaller more achievable changes, an easy win rather than big dramatic changes are much easier to stick with and bring about longer term success.

Some tips for success:
Think about the foods that you really like to eat and the ones that you are eating out of habit. Start with reducing the latter if they are not contributing to some of your aims. So if you take sugar in your tea or coffee and you can stop this it’s a great change. If you drink 2-3 mugs per day x 7 days a week and you stop you have managed to reduce refined sugars significantly. Not only will this have a benefit to your weight but also your dental health.
For others it might lots of food eaten outside the home. We tend to eat out a lot more, coffee shops, lunches on the run from delis or garages, dinner out, takeaway. When we spend money on food and we get a large portion we will eat it whether we need it or not. This contributes to extra calories but also extra things like salt. We have little or no control in what is added to our foods when we don’t cook them ourselves. So take some control. Make more of your packed lunches, buy a travel mug and buy less fancy coffees in coffee shops, set limits in the month to takeaway foods, cook in bulk so that you can freeze some extra portions to have at times when you are under pressure.
Don’t stockpile junk foods under the excuse that someone might call, it’s for the children or grandchildren etc. These are all excuses for ourselves and usually if there is junk foods in the house. So when you see offers for buy one get one free or three for a tenner its not really cheap at the end of the day.
Concentrate on what you eat. Sit at the table and don’t eat while watching TV, reading or surfing the net. Make it a sociable time and enjoy your food.
Some of these changes can really lead to positive change and will take the deciding out of your decision making. These better choices around foods along with an active lifestyle are a real positive.

Sharon Madigan, PhD, RD

Dr. Sharon Madigan is a clinical dietician who is the acting nutritionist with the Olympic Boxing Team and lecturer in the school of Human performance in D.C.U. She is specially qualified to administer the FODMAP diet as well given relevant dietary advice around the topic. Sharon is now accepting booking for consultations, covering all aspects of sport from weight loss/gain, performance orientated and managing of IBS and other gastro intestinal problems