5 Bites to Better Health
The best place to look for advice on how to change a person’s eating habits and transform their health isn’t necessarily found in the latest diet books. Oddly enough, it is secretly hidden within the best practices of leading organizations adept at change. Businesses often use a methodology or step-by-step process, to execute a new strategic initiative (i.e., new product launch, new customer interface), so why not try a similar approach to achieving personal health? If 90 percent of corporate change initiatives have been deemed a success today and 95 percent of all diets reportedly fail, surely there is something to be learned from business and change. Here are five key principles for transforming diet and health one “bite” at a time using some proven best practices for managing change.
- Envision Health:
Think of this as a strategic business plan. Top leaders must be realistic about their current situation, sense of urgency, and how much change their organization can truly handle. This is no different in food and health changes. Individuals must acknowledge their current eating habits, determine the impetus for changing them and consider how drastic a diet change is truly sustainable. Imagine a huge meat-eater who doesn’t like vegetables and is recently diagnosed with heart disease.
The need for change is evident, but the reality of jumping to a vegan diet overnight and sticking to it for the rest of his life is highly unlikely. This is why 95 percent of diets fail*. Clearly defining a vision of what “perfect” health looks and feels like is critical. The health goal isn’t about the food (i.e., giving up sugar or gluten), the true goal is to improve health in a specific way over the short and long-term (i.e., reduce joint pain, normalize digestion or prevent type II diabetes). Compare this to a basic business case. The objective isn’t simply to launch a new product or technology as this is simply a means to the end goal of increasing productivity or improving customer acquisition costs. A clear and compelling vision is just as important in business as in health.
The second bite to health is essentially creating the operating model or specific plan for how to achieve the proposed health vision. There are so many eating styles and food plans to choose from. Research and select a style of eating that is closely aligned with the health goals identified in the vision (i.e., auto-immune disease diet) and “win quickly” or find ways to make a few small changes to create momentum for sustainable results. For example, if a low-carb diet is a plan, substitute pasta with some spiral zucchini noodles and do it once or twice this week. Instead of a drastic change overnight, gradually implement this style of eating until it becomes more of the norm.
Another tip while preparing to kick-start your health change is to “team up” with a personal and virtual tribe of people with similar goals who can provide support and maintain accountability throughout the process. Join a Facebook group for your health problem (i.e., heart disease) or eating style (i.e., paleo or keto), find a health coach to create accountability, or team up with a friend or co-worker to share successes and failures throughout the journey. Organizations often team up with consultants, executive coaches, and facilitators to support them in their change initiatives. It’s virtually impossible to transform food habits and health without a supportive tribe.
- Commit: Detailed planning is required to truly “commit” to a new food and health change. Determine how technology might support or simplify the shopping and cooking process. Take advantage of culinary apps such as the Myka AI cooking book app or BigOven that can be used to create, find and track simple recipes and ingredients aligned with a specific food plan. Maintain an electronic list of staple groceries that are delivered each week. Also, identify changes in the current cooking process and roles/responsibilities to simplify this new way of eating. Batch cook some roasted vegetables or grilled chicken on Sundays to save time later in the week and ask family members to chip in with the dishes to provide support.Remember that training might also be necessary to support a transition to a new style of eating. Perhaps an online cooking demo on grilling cauliflower ‘steaks’ or a blog post on the best “grain-free” granola or pasta would be helpful. Taking advantage of technology, adjusting roles and responsibilities, and providing training, are all useful methods to support a health change.
- Own It: To truly “own it”, it is important to look past the emotional investment in the change and use trial and error to continually make improvements. Find about ten different “tried and true” recipe techniques that use a variety of preferred vegetables and proteins. Measure health progress against the original goals and don’t be afraid to acknowledge when things just aren’t working as planned. No matter how much time and investment are made into the transition to a vegan diet, perhaps adding back a few eggs and a little fish just feels better overall. Tweak the plan and move on, in business and in health.
- Reinvent Health Don’t forget to take some time to celebrate any level of success achieved. No matter how big or small the change and regardless of eating style (i.e., reducing sugar in a diet vs. going full-blown keto), there is always room to raise the bar yet again to achieve “perfect” health. Like anything else, changing eating habits one “bite” at a time continues to get easier with practice. Also, remember to help someone else along the way to better health. Just as business networking groups and conferences are valuable tools to share industry knowledge, sharing challenges and successes with others not only reinforces new eating behaviors but also helps pay it forward.
Leaders instinctively know what needs to be done to create a successful business; keep costs down, stock prices up, and customers happy, but the complexity comes in how to accomplish that for each unique business. Food and health are no different. Knowing what to eat is reportedly not the problem, but how to change our individual diets and ultimately our health, is the real challenge. Who knew the answers were hiding in the office the whole time?
Marissa is the author of the new #1 Amazon bestseller, Change BITES! 5 Change Management Strategies to Transform Your Health. Marissa spent her early career as a Senior Manager with Accenture leading large-scale change initiatives globally. She is now a Certified Health coach guiding others in their food and health transformation at Change BITES.
Tasler, Nick. “Stop Using the Excuse ‘Organization Change is hard.’” Harvard Business Review, 19 Dec. 2017, eld.hbr.org/2017/07/stop-using-the-excuse-organization-change-is-hard. ↑
Wing R R & Jeffrey R. “Outpatient treatment of obesity a comparison of methodology and clinical results.” Int. J. Obesity 3:261-79, 1979. ↑