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Health Behavior Change in Nutrition: Seven Examples of Health Behavior Change

Many people recognize the interplay between behavior change and nutrition. When someone is working on nutrition changes, behavior change is how it is done. Here are seven examples of how we use health behavior change strategies when working on nutrition.

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Examples of Nutrition-Related Health Behavior Change

  • Forming new habits. This is the most obvious one. Whether you are working on adding protein to your breakfast, starting to cook dinner regularly, or drinking more water, these new habits involve behavior change.

  • Maintaining new habits. Some say maintaining a habit may be harder than starting one. New habits are vulnerable to being lost. We use behavior change techniques continue newly formed habits and routines over the long run.

  • Planning for challenges that will come up. What will I do over the holidays? What will happen during vacation? What about if I am sick? We can often plan for these and other challenges that may come up.

  • Tolerating distress. This comes up often. When parents are working on improving their children's nutrition, it can be very distressing to hear your child tantrum about wanting or not wanting to eat a food. When people are working on eating feared foods, it can be distressing. We use behavior change strategies to learn to tolerate distress.

  • Trying new foods and activities. Many people are uncomfortable trying new things. They may opt to work on the skill of being open to doing something unfamiliar or unusual. Trying a new cooking technique, a new cuisine, an exercise video, or a new machine at the gym can help open up more opportunities for you.

  • Learning new cognitive behaviors. Mindfulness with eating is an important cognitive behavior that can be learned, and it can lead to greater enjoyment from eating. Another important cognitive skill is being able to anticipate future sensations. People use this skill to help them make food choices that will keep their body feeling good later on in the day or to decide whether or not to exercise based on how they know the exercise will make their body feel.

  • Improving executive functioning skills. Planning ahead is really important for good nutrition. People can learn how to meal plan, go grocery shopping, and prepare meals. Some people work on skills related to adding physical activity into their day.

These and many other health behavor change skills are important parts of nutrition changes. Find a dietitian who can help you make health-related behavior changes.

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