For centuries, being overweight or obese was considered a sign of good health and prosperity, but nowadays it is a serious world health problem. Using nutritional coaching as a way to help with weight loss is a form of personalised counselling or guidance process that needs to be adapted to every single client, adjusting to their present reality and objectives.
Before specifying the key elements in the processes of nutritional coaching for weight loss, we would like to direct you to our previous post, What is Nutrition and Health Coaching?, which sets out and specifies the objectives of the discipline and its most important characteristics.
Once we are familiar with the main concepts, we can look at the key elements of the discipline when it comes to weight loss:
- Basic objective: weight loss and/or acquiring habits for a healthy lifestyle.
- Need for motivation to change: recognising achievements.
- Individual, realistic and agreed upon goals.
Considering that coaching is a counselling process to be used as a personalized guide adapted to each client’s reality and objectives, one of the most common methods for weight loss used by coaches, is to create a behaviour log or register.
Empirically it has been shown that people who keep a daily record of their meals are more successful at lose weight. In the record they should note down specific information about eating behaviour (what they ate, when and what they were doing) as well as information about more personal aspects, like thoughts and feelings associated with food intake that help to understand overall eating behaviour and identify areas for change.
Self-registration of diet is fundamental. This is due to the fact that clients with weight problems generally tend to underestimate their real intake.
Similarly, analysing their self-registration allows them to identify factors associated with meals. For example, certain experiences or daily activities tend to be associated with food intake behaviour that does not really coincide with energy needs. For instance, if one normally “snacks” when watching a film or using the computer, the brain makes an association between food and the TV/computer that must be broken through eliminating habits.
Training to eliminate habits implies diverse activities which include increasing awareness of the undesired habit, monitoring (registering) the habit, training in a state of relaxation and practicing a new habit, for example drinking water. Self-monitoring eating behaviour also allows us to avoid exposing ourselves to situations that favour excess eating or breaking the diet.
Another important aspect when self-registering behaviour is the level of activity, which not only includes the amount of exercise done, but also the level of activity throughout the day. It can be carried out in a subjective way or through the use of a pedometer to register the number of daily steps.
As well as an element of analysis, self-registration plays an important behavioural evaluation function for the nutritional coach as well as for the client. It has been proven that simply carrying out self-registration improves the dysfunctional patterns in eating habits as most of the time the individual is otherwise not conscious of what they are eating, therefore, the awareness minimises their intake.
Records should be revised during the sessions to maintain adequate motivation in carrying them out. It is an adequate strategy mostly in the first two to three months, though it tends to be prolonged for one year (although not strictly). The long-term analysis of records allows the (conscious) incorporation of those strategies that have helped to eliminate snacking or to change unhealthy habits, which strengthens the newly incorporated habit.
What do you think about using nutritional coaching for weight loss? Have you had personal experiences you would like to share? We would love to read your comments!