How practitioners can support a healthier lifestyle
5th March 2021
Have you ever considered the complexities of how food choices are made every day? It is important to understand that besides biological needs such as energy and nutrients, food choice also widely depends on the cost and availability; cooking skills and time restraints; family culture and peer influence; mood and stress; beliefs and knowledge on food nutrition.
Therefore, as a practitioner supporting a client to change their eating or lifestyle it is not as straightforward as simply telling them what the right food is and the importance of physical activity. According to research, most weight loss 'diets' work if they are adhered to, but subsequently the majority of people will gain back the weight lost and usually more through resuming previous lifestyle habits.
According to the Transtheoretical Model of Behavioural Change (aka the Stages of Change Model), individuals can go through 5 stages of change -
- determination (preparation to action)
- maintenance (prevent relapse).
Therefore, it is important to assess the readiness to change in a first weight management session and crucial to start building rapport. There are many techniques and skills that are important to learn to enhance the quality of consultation with clients. For example, the use of body language such as mirroring, non-judgemental tone, active listening, affirmations, reflections and summarising.
With a trusted relationship established, work with the client for them to set their own SMART goals throughout the weight management programme. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, recorded and time phased. It is essential when setting SMART goals to problem solve potential barriers and work through modifying unrealistic goals. Discussing and planning for possible tricky situations, such as holidays and celebrations, helps prevent lapses becoming relapses. These are just some of the techniques required to be employed in a successful consultation.
At AppleTree Healthy Lifestyle Consultancy, we offer a number of training programmes, including Using Behavioural Change Tools in Childhood Obesity, to support weight management practitioners in the UK and beyond. With all our training courses now available virtually they are easier than ever to access. To learn more about the content of our virtual training course and future dates go to our training page. To book a course or for more information please contact us.
Chin Wai Yip, Placement Student Nutritionist
Dr Laura Stewart