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What if I Don't Want to Make Nutrition Changes? The Challenges of Nutrition Behavior Change and Why We Choose Not to Change: Diet Change is Hard

Perhaps you recently saw your physician, and your physician had concerns about your health. Many health concerns can be improved with nutrition changes. But for a whole slew of reasons, including that diet change is hard, you are not sure if you want to or can make those changes. Today am I writing about why people sometimes opt to hold off on making nutrition changes when diet change is very hard.

person thinking diet change is hard

Personal autonomy is very important when it comes to health. For the most part, we are entitled to choose whether or not to take a medication, undergo a medical test, or have a surgical procedure. Treating medical problems with nutrition is another treatment option. As a patient, you can opt out. You can decide that you don't want to treat your health problem with nutrition. You may weigh the difficulty of having a medical issue and how hard diet change is, and perhaps you decide that you don't want to change your diet.

You may even make that decision knowing how helpful nutrition interventions can be for your particular condition. You may know that and still decide that you don't have the capacity for hard diet changes to try nutrition at this time. There can be multiple reasons for that.

Some people have so many stressors in their lives that are vying for their attention that they don't have the mental space to add nutrition to that "to do" list. This often lasts for a finite amount of time, and then when other stressors recede, nutrition can have its time. In the meantime, people may decide to not work on improving nutrition, though they know it may lead to worse health.

Other times, people decide that they do not want to change their dietary habits. They prefer continuing to eat as they currently do more than they prefer to protect their health via nutrition. I want to emphasize that I am writing this with no judgement to that decision. People sometimes prefer to knowingly continue a behavior that objectively might be detrimental to health. I think we all do this to some degree--for example, by staying up too late, taking an extra drink, or being inactive.

Still, other times, people may choose to treat their medical issues with other available options. This can be medication, procedures, or surgery. For different medical concerns there may be different treatments available. Though often nutrition can be used along with other treatments, engaging in nutrition changes does not have to be a prerequisite to being offered other options.

If you are in this position where you are being encouraged to change how you eat, allow yourself time to think about what you want to do. Diet change is hard. Discuss with your physician what other treatment options exist. Find out what may occur with no changes in nutrition. Find out the potential side effects of the other treatment options. Gather all the information you need to help you make your decision.

Most importantly, do not let the status quo of eating habits just happen. Not changing should be a thought through decision, not just an automatic response to how hard diet change is. If you decide not to change after weighing your options, you will also be able to share with your physician why you are not changing nutrition now. That can be very helpful to you also because it can allow your physician to best support you. Sometimes the roadblocks to change can be lifted.

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