Changing her thinking about food
Changing how she thought about food also helped Dawn go from dieting to healthy eating. Dawn doesn't avoid desserts and other foods that might be considered off-limits on a diet. Instead she has learned to take smaller portions and to savor each bite. "I've modified the types of food or the quantities, but I don't think there is anything that I absolutely don't eat," she says.
"If I choose on purpose to have something that might be a little bit richer, like a little almond torte with whipped cream frosting, then I might really focus on making sure that the rest of the meal is much lower in calories to balance it. And my portion [of dessert] is going to be much smaller."
Dawn also learned to pay attention to her hunger and fullness signals. Instead of eating until she feels stuffed, she eats just enough to feel satisfied. "Slowing down a little bit—that helped too."
Having someone she could turn to for support helped Dawn a lot. As part of her healthy-weight program, Dawn was assigned a health coach. This person helped Dawn anticipate things that might prevent her from staying with her healthy eating habits. And when she became discouraged, she would turn to her health coach for motivation.
For people who don't have a health coach, Dawn recommends finding a friend, family member, or coworker who has the same goals. "Get yourself a partner, somebody who will help you stay accountable—maybe someone you can have a healthy lunch with."
What she has learned
For Dawn, the keys to becoming a healthy eater involved finding nutrition habits that worked with her lifestyle and having the support of a health coach. As a result, Dawn no longer thinks about dieting. She is confident that the healthy habits she has learned are things she can do for a lifetime.
Dawn has also learned to focus on healthy behaviors, such as eating well and being physically active, and not to focus so much on the number on the scale. She now realizes that the behaviors are what make her healthy, not the weight she is at.