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Realistic expectations

Optimising diet quality can come in different shapes and forms.
Daughter and senior mother cooking, cutting vegetables in kitchen
© Getty Images
An individual approach helps to create a dietary strategy that’s realistic and manageable.

When it comes to optimising dietary intake and improving dietary behaviours, it’s important to have positive realistic expectations.

Barriers to change

Changing dietary behaviours can be a very challenging process. For people experiencing poor mental health, the barriers to change can be particularly hard to overcome. These barriers could include low motivation or tiredness.

Depressed mood, stress and anxiety might also slow down any attempts to make positive dietary changes. Having an empathetic and supportive environment is critical. In healthcare settings, the treatment of mental health conditions requires a collaborative multidisciplinary approach to provide dietary and psychological counselling to address various biopsychosocial issues.

Strategies for change

It is important to understand what success may looks like for you. For example, success may mean enjoying a new vegetable each week, decreasing intake of sweetened drinks, planning meals for the week or writing a shopping list.

Adapting an approach for the specific needs of each person should include:

  • understanding immediate individual needs
  • addressing individual barriers to change
  • working with SMART goals
  • building food skills and knowledge
  • embracing positive changes and celebrating achievements.

Your task

Analyse your current situation and identify the main barriers to change.

If you wish, share your thoughts and respond to other learners in the comments, keeping in mind that you can like and reply to develop threads that are of most interest to you.

© Deakin University
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Food and Mood: Improving Mental Health Through Diet and Nutrition

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