Health Coaching – Creating Healthy Eating Habits
Health Coaching is one of the most successful life coaching niches. A significant number of people struggle with health issues that often can be traced back to poor food choices plus a lack of consistent exercise. However, Behavioral Science research shows that once an individual has engaged in a new program or process for approximately three weeks (or 21 days), the new program/process becomes a habit. This often is an initial goal in Health Coaching; supporting our clients to reach that 21-day milestone.
So once the person makes the commitment to sign up for Health Coaching, how does the Health Coach best support the client in moving from program/process to habit, thereby successfully achieving their goal of healthier eating and exercise?
Let’s explore the Health Coaching niche and some of the strategies Health Coaches use in working with their clients.
Health Coaching Strategies:
To start, it is important in Health Coaching to ask questions of a client that will help the client explore various triggers that cause the client to choose unhealthy eating habits. Once those triggers have been considered, the Health Coach can guide the client through the discovery of new ideas the client can use to support their goal of a healthier lifestyle.
Health Coaching Strategies #1 Actual Or Perceived Hunger
Ask your client to reflect on how they are feeling when they are eating. Are they hungry, or could they be eating for other reasons? Healthy eaters eat when hungry. Other causes could certainly point to a problem. A professional Health Coach brainstorms with the client, but always supports the client to discover their answers for themselves.
Health Coaching Strategies #2 The Importance Of Water
The Health Coach may introduce the topic of hydration and the importance of drinking enough water every day. Hydration plays a major role in good health and in helping people feeling satiated. Water also contributes to the client’s sense of well-being. In Health Coaching, we look for clues in the conversation that the client may be mistaking thirst for hunger.
Health Coaching Strategies #3 Food Substitutions
A Health Coach might invite the client to consider craving substitutions, and in so doing often helps the client stay on track. Chewing gum or sugar-free hard candy are simple, yet useful replacements. Brainstorming with a client often reveals much more. Any good substitution the Health Coach and their client can discover together could be the very key that helps the client stay on the path towards their goal of healthier eating.
Health Coaching Strategies #4 Fitness
Of course, another aspect of a healthy lifestyle is physical activity. In this regard, a professional Health Coach wants to understand more clearly the client’s thoughts about physical activity. Remember the Health Coach should NEVER impose his or her beliefs on the client around this or any subject, but rather ask questions that invite honest input from the client. In this way, the Health Coach offers helpful and valuable support to their client as their client continues to discover their best approach to achieving their goal of a healthier lifestyle. Brainstorming with the client on this subject could reveal the client “hates” to take walks but “loves” to dance. Through the give and take of the coaching conversation, the client might have the revelation that they could “dance around the house each day for 20 minutes”. The client makes this choice on their own through the skilled questioning and brainstorming with their Health Coach.
Health Coaching Strategies #5 Healthy Snacks
What are your client’s beliefs and ideas around healthy snacks? What kinds of foods could they or should they plan on having available when they are hungry between meals? Professional health coaches know people are people; this is not about being perfect or never having a snack again. It is about integrating healthy habits. It is about enjoying life, including treats on occasion but being mindful that their health is important.
A Health Coach will want to brainstorm with their client about ways to stay on track when traveling or in dealing with stress. Brainstorming could include whether or not to keep certain “trigger” foods in the house or where to store “trigger” foods that are in the home or even if “trigger” foods should be kept in the house at all. If foods that prove irresistible to the client are in the home for other family members, brainstorming can include discussing ways to avoid succumbing to cravings.
The Many Hats Of Health Coaching
It is entirely appropriate for the Health Coach to offer feedback to their client that will assist their client in successfully achieving their goal. During the coaching session, it may become evident to the Health Coach that their client does not have relevant information that could be of help in the client reaching their goal. However, Health Coaches MUST ask their client if the client wants the information before sharing it. Otherwise, the Health Coach is imposing their ideas, thoughts or opinions on the client which is counterproductive for the client in taking the leadership position in reaching their goal.
A few tips that may be useful in Health Coaching
1. Read Labels. Clients will be encouraged to take note of the preservatives and additives that are listed. Many of them stimulate the appetite.
2. Use The Food Pyramid. Health Coaches often find connecting their clients with the food pyramid to be an excellent starting point in researching healthy foods.
3. Buy A Lot Of Fresh Vegetables.
Fresh vegetables are a good snack choice. They are healthy, need little or no preparation before eating, and provide needed bulk to help us feel full. Several portions throughout the day are recommended by most Health Coaches to their clients.
4. Fruits yes or no?
Great question! While fruits have lots of excellent nutrients, health coaches are cautious to recommend them due to the high sugar content. They are good in moderation, but those fruit smoothies that people think are healthy are loaded with sugar and calories.
Health Coaching Grocery Store Tips:
1. Many nutritionists, health coaches and health experts recommend their clients shop the perimeter of the store because that is generally where the fresh and healthiest food is located. Prepackaged, sugar, preservative laden foods are usually down the aisles.
2. SHOP ALONE. Shopping with others, including and especially children, can make it difficult to focus on healthy choices. Coaches may advise their clients that they will find it easier to stay on track and focused if they shop for groceries alone.
3. MAKE A LIST. Success in all areas of life comes from conscious planning and decisions. Making a list and sticking to only what is on that list when shopping for groceries increases the chances of making only healthy food choices. Health coaches will help clients understand this fact.
By exploring your client’s motivation, desires, experience, and concerns, Health Coaching can be the key that unlocks the chains that may be keeping your clients from success.
Health Coaching is a rewarding career niche chosen by many life coaches. Health Coaching is also recommend by many health professions as explored on this nursing article. Results are often apparent both physically and mentally. Seeing a client turn the corner and start living a healthy lifestyle is inspiring to the coach as well as the client!