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By Karin Kratina, PhD, RDN, LDN, SEP

How to Achieve Your Nutrition Goals … Even When You Can’t Seem to Stay On Target Copyright © 2002 by Karin Kratina, PhD, RDN, LDN, SEP. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles, reviews and books. Second Edition (2017)

Learn more at www.EatingWisdom.com. Download free worksheets and handouts, and learn more about the online course, Winning the Hunger Game: How to Quit Fighting Your Body and Become an Empowered Eater.

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals

You’ve decided you want to improve your eating habits. You do some research and know exactly what you want to achieve. So you set your goals and create a plan. You make sure the food is available (or NOT available). You’re motivated. Just implement the plan and you will accomplish your goal, right? Unfortunately, no. There is a good chance you will not be able to achieve your nutrition goals this way. Most people think that achieving a goal is like driving on a freeway. You have a specific destination, with clearly marked roads, and GPS in hand. You zoom along with few interruptions until you get where you want to be. However, changing your eating habits is more like finding your way through a forest on unmarked dirt roads. Sure there are guidelines, but you make mistakes, take wrong turns, and have to back up and reevaluate as you stumble along. But if you know how this works, all is not lost. With each wrong turn you can learn, and shift and get closer to your destination. But you need to know the key to succeeding when it feels like you keep messing up. 3

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals Most people have no idea that a journey filled with errors can get you exactly where you want to go. Stewart Emery1 learned this while on a plane to Hawaii. The captain was a friend of his, so Stewart was invited to ride in the cockpit where he noticed a console with a little black box inside. The captain explained that it was the navigational system: "It tells us where we are in relation to where we want to go. It doesn't say whether it's a good or bad place to be, it simply tells us where we are and what we need to correct if we are not on target. The fascinating fact is that we're going to get to Hawaii, and touch down within five minutes of our estimated arrival time, having been in error 90 percent of the journey!" This trip, filled with errors as the plane zigged and zagged through the air was completely on target. And we are no different from an airplane as we zig and zag towards our nutrition goals (and through life). If an airplane can be in error 90% of the time yet still reach its destination, maybe we can look at ourselves with more tolerance and forgiveness as we change our nutrition and journey through life.


Author of Actualizations: You Don't Have to Rehearse to Be Yourself


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals To Be Alive Means Being Constantly Off Course When you understand that life is more zigging and zagging, you are much better prepared for success. Start by revising the picture of how you reach goals--from the straight shot of the highway to the zigzag of an airplane. You can zig and zag, back and forth, and as long as you're moving in the general direction of your goals, you're on track. The pilot called his navigational system "Fred and George." Fred and George never fall out of communication with each other; they're always providing each other with feedback. They don't complain that the other is wrong, nor do they take feedback personally. Instead, Fred and George have the following conversation: George, we're off 3 degrees to port. Okay, Fred, I'll fix it. George, we're off 2 degrees to starboard. Thanks, Fred got it covered. We're going 20 knots slower than you need to be going." 10-4, Fred, speeding up now.


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals This goes on all the way to Hawaii. But consider what might happen if Fred and George became judgmental--how might the conversation go? George, we're off 3 degrees to port. Gees, Fred, you just said I was too far off to starboard and I fixed that. Give me a break! George, get on the stick, we're off 5 degrees to port. So, what are you saying, Fred? Are you saying I don't know how to do my job? George? George! We're off 7"" degrees to port! Get with the program! I'm getting sick of you, Fred; all you ever do is tell me I'm wrong. You fix it. George, you lunatic, we're off 11degrees to port now! You don't know how to do your job! That's it. I've had it with you, Fred. I'm just not going to listen to you anymore. George . . . I think we may be crashing. 6

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals Fred makes a huge mistake when he interprets George's feedback as criticism. How often do you do this? Interpreting vital, constructive feedback on your efforts--whether from your body, your mind, or your friends--as criticism and judgment, and get defensive? There is a good chance the harshest criticism is coming from yourself. Yet just as feedback is critical for an airplane to stay on target, so too is feedback critical for us to stay on target. Feedback can take many forms:          

Your body telling you that you are hungry. Your body feeling full after eating. Physical discomfort when you’ve eaten to a 9 on the Hunger Scale.* The sense of freedom when you’ve eaten intuitively. How your body feels when you force yourself to exercise. How your body feels with regular joyful movement. Reviewing your Hunger Scale Journals* to see what you can learn. The constant presence of your internal cues of hunger and satiety. That subtle message that lets you know you’ve eaten enough and are satisfied. A friend who says he or she is concerned about you.

Let’s look at one situation as an example:


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals You are busy working, distracted at the computer, when you suddenly realize you are at a low 2 on the Hunger Scale.2 You pull yourself away to eat, but find that you are SO hungry that you can’t quit eating until 9. That's zigging off course. Rather than beat yourself up for being overfull, you reflect that most people have a hard time ending a meal if they get overhungry. You also realize that you can wait until you are hungry before you eat again, even though you know it will be at least 7 hours, and you are reassured there will be no weight gain. Then you make note to pay attention and begin eating when you are at a 3 next time. That's zagging back on course.

* The Hunger Scale and Hunger Scale Journal can be downloaded at www.EatingWisdom.com. 8

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals Let’s take a different situation and look more closely at exactly what is going on in your mind at a party between your own personal Fred and George, though we’ll call them Greta and Sally: Greta, that food sure looks good. Well Sally, you already ate too much today so forget it, we’re not eating anything. But Greta, I’m hungry, we haven’t had anything since lunch. Hungry? We had too much at lunch. You’re such a pig Sally. But Greta, this party will go on for hours and we’re "" get too hungry. gunna OMG, you’re such a whiner. You can’t go one night without food. Gees. Greta, I’m concerned that if we don’t have something to eat, we’ll binge at home. Binge? Hell no we’re not Sally! And we’re skipping dinner, we’re too fat. Hmmm, I know what happens when we skip dinner Greta… 9

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals Learning from Fred and George’s nonjudgmental feedback, we can shift this internal conversation to look to: Greta, that food sure looks good. . Sally, do we really need to eat right now? Actually, Greta, we’re hungry. We haven’t had anything since lunch. Well, okay Sally. That is probably smart, that way we don’t end up binging when we get home.

Yikes Greta, I’m feeling triggered by all this party food.

Hmmm, let’s sit with Donna. She’s always supportive and we’ll feel more comfortable. Thanks Greta, that’s a great plan.


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals

Using Yellow and Red Alerts In the plane's navigational system, Fred serves as the "early warning system," providing feedback when things are getting off track. However, in life, we have many different early warning systems that are available to inform us we are not on target. The more aware you are of these signals, the earlier you can catch yourself. And, clearly, the earlier you catch yourself, the easier it is to take corrective action and get back on track. I like to conceptualize early warning systems much like Star Trek's system of yellow and red alerts. The yellow alert (condition yellow) is an alert that signals a potential crisis. There is a problem developing, and you need to do something to avert danger. Yellow alerts are important, but not yet too serious. You need to be on guard though. The beauty of the yellow alert is if you catch yourself during this stage, correcting your course is much easier than trying to make a change later, when the situation has deteriorated. You will find it easier to zag when you notice the yellow alerts, thereby avoiding the red alert stage.


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals Yellow alerts are the key to getting back on track and successful change. You need to keep a sharp eye out for them and respond as quickly as possible. As you do, zigging and zagging towards your nutrition goals gets much easier. A red alert means that danger is imminent. There will always have been a yellow alert first, but you either didn’t notice it, or you ignored it or you didn’t know how to respond to it, but now you are so trapped in the problem, and defending yourself from it, that fixing it is almost out of the question. Zagging at this point is difficult indeed. When you are at a full red alert, the force necessary to fix the problem, or break a cycle of, for instance, binging, is significant. You will feel compelled to do the exact thing you didn’t want to do. At this stage, be kind and compassionate with yourself. Realize that most people experience a red alert somewhat like a speeding train— changing course would feel like certain death. After the red alert, take a moment to reflect on the situation. Explore earlier in the day. Practice look for the yellow alerts, even in hindsight. You will find they are always present. Spotting them gets easier the more you practice. The effort spent looking for them is worth it, because, as you keep hearing, changing course at the yellow alert is much easier than when at a red alert! 12

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals Following are examples of yellow alerts and how they turn into red alerts if they are ignored, as well as a response that avoids the red alert.

You’ve been busy and suddenly realize you are a 2 on the Hunger Scale.

You decide to ignore the 2 and finish the project you’re working on before you get something to eat.

You decide to stop working immediately and get something to eat before your hunger level drops any further.


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals

You review your food intake and begin to make plans to adjust it. Plus, you plan an additional workout.

You feel


Though you are not sure you believe it, you hear that feeling fat has nothing to do with the size of your body. You realize that you did not feel fat a few hours ago, though now you feel like you weigh 10 more pounds than you did then. You understand that gaining 10 pounds in a few hours is impossible. So you decide to call a friend and work on a project to distract you, but you also make a note to discuss this situation with a trusted friend or a therapist.


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals

You begin to feel afraid, and tell yourself you ate too much and will get fat.

You realize you're overfull and uncomfortable.

You tell yourself it's not the end of the world because you got overfull. You reassure yourself that eating to overfull at one meal will not cause you to gain weight. You decide to put effort into living in the moment and not worry about your next meal or tomorrow. Then you decide you will make every effort to wait until you’re hungry before you eat again and you call a friend for support. You continue to reassure yourself your weight will remain stable.


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals Eventually, noticing the yellow alerts and responding to them becomes second nature. You will then need less time and energy to change your course then you did when you were zooming right into the red alert. Over time, you will experience fewer red alerts around your eating, and managing your food intake becomes easier.

Conclusion: You Can Stay Fully on Target While Off Course You will experience Greta and Sally in areas throughout your life, in many different forms. You will also find yellow and red alerts everywhere. The more you pay attention, the more you will notice the countless ways life provides you with feedback to keep you on course. Remember, beating yourself up or feeling guilty about your past or current habits can sabotage your efforts to change before you've even started. In real life, you are constantly off target. The more accepting you are of that simple fact, the quicker you will get where you want to go. So, be gentle with yourself and remember that change is a matter of progress, not perfection. Life is a journey that never ends. And that journey is not linear! Know without a doubt as you zig and zag through life that you are fully on target!


How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals

Dr. Karin Kratina, RDN, LDN, SEP is a nationally recognized nutrition therapist, author and speaker who is known for her groundbreaking work with intuitive eating and eating disorders. She has written several books, including co-authoring the first professional book on intuitive eating, Moving Away from Diets, in 1996. She tried every diet, every eating program available, and even pursued a Bachelors in Nutrition and a Masters in Exercise Physiology in an attempt to successfully manage her eating and weight. But both just got more out of control. It was not until she turned her back on that education and all those diets and eating plans that she was able to end the food craziness and learn how to manage her eating and weight successfully. Over the years, she has helped thousands gain control over their food and weight—through international workshops, her writings, and as a nutrition therapist in private practice in Gainesville, FL. She hopes that you will quit following all that advice that seems to be everywhere, yet goes nowhere, and find YOUR own eating wisdom to guide efforts to eat healthy and manage your weight. Visit www.EatingWisdom.com for more information, and to learn about the online course, Winning the Hunger Game: How to Quit Fighting Your Body and Become an Empowered Eater.


Profile for Karin Kratina

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals ... Even When You Can't Seem to Stay on Target  

Most people think that achieving a goal is like driving on a freeway with a specific destination, zooming along with few interruptions until...

How to Achieve your Nutrition Goals ... Even When You Can't Seem to Stay on Target  

Most people think that achieving a goal is like driving on a freeway with a specific destination, zooming along with few interruptions until...