Swapping junk food for real food

Changing from skipping meals and eating junk food to regular meals with real food – Richard’s story.

Richard was a 42 year old executive with a very busy working life which involved long hours and frequent travel. He frequently skipped both breakfast and lunch. At the end of a long day he would often eat junk food on the way home, and would then not want to eat the home-cooked food his wife often prepared. He wanted to lose a stone (7 kg) in weight and felt to do that he should give up eating junk food. When he was away travelling, he would eat in restaurants and then ate meals that were too big.  Richard exercised at the weekends and took his sons to watch sport. He wanted to feel generally healthier.

The work we did

Step 1: Knowing what to change

Using the Unhelpful Eating Habits Checklist Richard identified his unhelpful habits:

  • His eating routine was erratic and he often skipped breakfast and lunch
  • Portion sizes too big (evening meals)
  • Having an unbalanced diet

Step 2:  Increasing motivation

Richard’s primary goal was to feel fitter, so we used a goal-visualisation exercise to strengthen his focus on the short-term benefits of improving his physical feelings of wellbeing and fitness. He practised this goal visualisation exercise each day for the first few weeks

Step 3: Reducing evening meal size

Richard could see that his large junk-food meals on his way home were happening because by that time of day he was ravenously hungry, and very tired. Our first step was to alter the amount of junk food Richard was eating for his evening meal on his way home from work. Using the Appetite Pendulum, Richard found it easy to stop eating at the point of being just full. This meant that he felt hungry at breakfast time, which he had not done for a long time.

Step 4: Regularising eating routine

  • Feeling hungry in the morning meant that Richard was now keen to have breakfast. He introduced breakfast, eating cereal and fruit before he left the house.
  • He began to take fruit or nuts with him to eat at his desk at lunchtime and enjoyed this and felt healthier doing this than skipping his midday meal.
  • Richard found that his more regular routine in turn made it easier to wait until he got home to eat with his family.

The outcome

Richard lost the 7 kg he set out to lose over the course of 15 weeks. Once he started to make changes to his eating routine and focus more on how he was eating, he found that he naturally started to choose healthier options.

Richard also found that an additional benefit was that he had much less heartburn than he had been experiencing on his old pattern of eating. He reported feeling much fitter and said that eating 3 times a day had made a big difference.

In Richard’s own words:

“Now I can stop when I’m full. If I have an evening where it’s a bit of a struggle, I have a rational conversation in my head. I’m thinking more about what I’m eating and find I can manage feeling hungry in the afternoon. My fitness has gone up and I get much less heartburn. What works for me is eating 3 times a day, which I didn’t do before. I enjoy my meals and now feel the right weight.”