Do you have children who are picky eaters, or are you yourself trying to form good habits? Dr. Orlena and Dr. Carrie Lam will be giving practical tips on how to implement good habits into your life.
4:45 - Why are habits so hard to change?
8:52 - Good and Bad Habits have memory.
10:30 - Be aware of your habits and make new habits
15:00 - What is your motivation for change?
18:00 - How can moms be healthier and help their picky eating children?
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Hi, I'm Dr. Carrie Lam, welcome to The Dr. Lam show. I have Dr. Orlena, who is going to talk to us about how you can help change your habits, why they're so difficult to change, and how we can make permanent changes, especially for moms who are really busy with our kids. We want to know how moms can make lasting change for their kids to really live healthy lives. Dr. Orlena trained as a pediatric doctor in the UK, she now actually works as a health coach, teaching busy women to lead their most healthy life in a way that they love. And so that they can feel amazing and lead a long life and teach our kids healthy living habits. I'm a new mom, so I'm really excited to hear what you have to say. So welcome to our show.Dr Orlena:
Thank you so much. Congratulations on being a new mom.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Thank you. It is definitely a change. But you know, making these habits early on, I think will be a very important change for us, and in making our kids have healthy habits, too. So first, why don't you tell us about how you got here, and why you are a health coach and why you're talking about this with us?Dr Orlena:
I would love to I'll give you the short version. So as you said, I trained in the UK as a pediatric doctor. And I always wanted to travel and explore the world. So about 10 years ago, we decided to move to Spain. I will say I kind of moved with My Eyes Wide Shut, because I thought I was just gonna carry on working and transfer and that would be super easy. But it wasn't. I worked a little bit there but mainly started working online. At the time, I had two children, and then I had twins. So I found myself, a mother of four children under four and a half. So life was busy. But I kind of felt a bit like I'd lost my identity, because being a doctor earlier, you are really busy, with exciting, and relatively important work. And now I'm looking after four children which was difficult and challenging in different ways. I needed an outlet for myself so started writing about looking after kids. As a pediatrician, that's what I am an expert in. As my children grew older, they were fussy eaters, despite giving them all these healthy, delicious vegetables. And they would just pick out the pasta and one of them had constipation. As a pediatric doctor, when children complained of tummy pains, I would say our that the good news is they're constipated. Just feed them vegetables, and you don't need any medicine. It's perfect and easy. And then fast forward a few years, it was a nightmare feeding vegetables to my own kid. This is not so easy. I did some work on picky eating, and how we as parents can help picky eaters and even children who aren't picky. How do we do that? How do we instill these healthy habits in our children from an early age, so they just grow up thinking, well, this is just normal life. And then I pivoted a bit to do adults. Because, you know, as you can see, when you become a mother, your life totally changes. And you get so used to looking after your children and everybody else. So many mothers kind of lose themselves in that and put themselves at the bottom of the pile. And they really need to have a bit of a wake up call to realize that you actually have to start looking after yourself because nobody else is gonna do it. And you're a much better carer and have more energy to do all of these things once you start looking after yourself.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Yeah, that's great. Starting from the bottom of helping your kids out by helping yourself, right. Because if you aren't able to help yourself as a mom, then your kids are going to get the brunt of your tiredness, your stress or the bad habits that you have produced. It'd be great if you can talk about how you can get your kids to eat vegetables so it's part of the habit forming too, which is what we're going to be talking about. So why Why are your habits so difficult to change?Dr Orlena:
I totally love habits. Many people say to me, how do we do it all without thinking? When I talk to my clients, or when people come to me and say I want to lead a healthy life, or lose weight, without thinking about it. And those are words 'without thinking about it', those are habits. That's just it. Once you've got it all automated and autopilot, it just becomes easy. And you get to this place where this is just what I do, I don't have to think about it. I just go and buy vegetables, and I eat vegetables. And I exercise because I love it. I go to bed on time. That's just how my life rolls and it's so easy. So the thing about habits is they're also a bit of a double edged sword, because what are they? They are what I call habit brain which is really efficient, and it gets things done. But our habit brain doesn't really care what habit we have in terms of whether it's healthy for our body or not. So it might be the habit of sitting down after dinner and watching television and being relatively sedentary and your brain is just like this is what we do. It is like a computer program, we're running this program. But clearly, from a health point of view, that's not as good a habit as going for a walk in the evening. It's kind of arbitrary. It's luck as to whether your habits are healthy or not healthy. Unless, of course, you're intentional about creating your habits. And we can see this in, when we have lockdown during Covid, many people complained that they put on so much weight over this period of time, because they developed this habit of baking or similar. But other people developed habits of doing more exercise and being more intentional in the habits. So it's a bit of chance as to whether you have the good habits, or bad in relation to your health. The next question is, why is it so difficult to to change? And the reality is, is that we set out to create a habit and we're very intentional about creating habits and we repeat - I'm going to create this habit, I'm going to create this habit, I'm going to create this habit. Remember the whole definition of habit is without thinking about it. So whilst you're thinking about it, it's not a habit. And we think I've made these habits. I call them seedling habits because they're not really properly entrenched habits. And then life happens, life always happens. And it's like an elastic band. Suddenly you drop back to those big entrenched habits, your old habits, and then you feel like a failure. And you think, you can't do this, it's too difficult. At that point, we need to stop and think, no, it's not too difficult. What's happened is you just have a human body and the human brain. And this is how it's supposed to work. This is how habits work. You just haven't created new habits yet you haven't got far across what I call the rickety bridge from A to B, you just haven't made it all the way across. You just ended up back in place, and you just haven't got across there. So that's why they're, difficult to make a habit.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Just like your body has memory cells, right? It's like when you like the weight loss, if you have a lot of weight that has been gained, and you want to lose the weight you can lose it real quickly. You can always come back, like the rubber band, because it has the memory cells. It's always very hard to overcome that with a new habit, right. But you're saying that it is possible to change? What can someone do to cross that that rickety bridge of change?Dr Orlena:
That's a really good question. And yes, what you're saying is that actually, when you have habits that they come back, so that's kind of a good thing and a bad thing. When we were in lockdown, and we weren't allowed out, I decided to dust off a keyboard that my husband had and start playing the piano. And I hadn't played the piano and something like 20 or 30 years. And within a few days, okay, I could remember how to do this. It's all coming back to me, just because of these habits that I've had. But clearly, the reverse works in that if it's a bad habit, your body remembers that as well. So it works both ways. For example, I started running last summer. It's not my number one sport, swimming is my number one sport, but I liked running. But over the summer, I'm busy doing swimming. But I know that in the autumn, I will be able to ping back into running a little bit more. It will take me a bit of time to build up but I've still got that memory, that muscle memory of being able to do it.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
So how do people create these contexts, right, the way I usually tell my patient is that habits are created around context. Is that every time I go see a patient, I wash my hands before I see them because that's the context or every morning, I wake up, I brush my teeth, because it's the context of waking up, then I brush my teeth, or every time I go into a car I put on my seatbelt. So that's the habit that we have to place into a context in order to make it lasting, and you don't think about it right, and it becomes automatic.Dr Orlena:
The way I teach people how to do it is, first of all, I think, step one is being aware of your habits. Because the problem is, we have all these habits that we're doing without thinking. So most of the habits, we're not actually aware that we're doing. So the first step is really get awareness of what you're doing. And you can have habits in so many different areas, like how you eat, exercise, and even how you think, and your emotions and thinking about, your relationship with your parents and how you might ping back into, that relationship that you've had for years and years. That's all habit as well. So the first step is get really, really clear on what your habits are. And I'd recommend doing something called a habit audit. So you look for a week, this is what I do every single day. And this is what I do, say on Friday night and at the weekend. So habits don't have to be daily, they can be a longer period of time. And then have a look at them and think okay, well, these ones are great. I want to keep these ones, these ones not so great. I want to change these. It depends what you want to do and build out. One thing I would say is if you're doing it by yourself, you want to be careful not to take on too much. Don't say I'm going to change my entire life, because that's just going to lead to overwhelm. And then you fail and say you can't do any of this and you're back to square one. So you're much better off starting with something small. Perhaps you want to start off doing a little bit more exercise. I'm going to think about what exercise do I want to do? So you know, half the battle is picking the right habits. Think about what's realistic for you. What do you enjoy doing. How is it going to fit into your lifestyle. So get clear on what you want to get what you want to build in. And there's this general rule of thumb, which is I want to make it easy to do the good habits, and difficult to do the bad habits. And so people always think about, oh, you have to be so disciplined to lead this healthy life. You don't, you just have to set your life up so that it rolls and I like to think of those little train sets you have that you know, you lay out the the wooden railings and then you push the little train along. That's kind of like your thinking brain is laying out the steps of your life. And then your habit brain is just the little train that goes along. Because if you think about your habit brain, it's going to make decisions. It's going to win the decisions in terms of say, for example, you think, Oh, I want to give up chocolate and I normally have chocolate when I'm driving home from work because I feel tired and exhausted. But my thinking brain is saying Oh, you know what, chocolate is not a great habit, I'm going to give up that habit. At three o'clock, your habit brain goes, hey, it's chocolate time, we always eat chocolate at this time. And your thinking brain doesn't stand a chance unless you've set it up in a way that you can manage that habit. So it might be that you replace that habit with something else. It might mean that you have to go back and look at other things. So what's the underlying reason? Why are you wanting to eat that chocolate? Because you feel tired, or stressed? So, thinking of other ways of addressing that and thinking how do I meet my needs in this, I don't have time for me. So it's not just thinking about that exact moment in time. But taking a step back and looking at everything that's going on that time. And how is it that I'm going to avoid eating chocolate at three o'clock? Well, perhaps in my car, I'm going to make it easy for myself to have an apple. So I'm going to make sure there's an apple there. I'm going to drive a different way home so I don't pass that garage where I always stop in and buy some chocolates if I'm tempted to and you know it's this idea number one is self awareness and really understanding how you tick and number two is make good habits easy and bad habits difficult.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
It's really great, finding the reason, digging down deep as to why you're having these bad habits and making yourself aware of them and then making them hard to get to. And then making your good habits easy to get to. That's really good advice for changing lifestyle. So how do you think people can make these changes to live a healthy life, without thinking about it? With two steps - to be aware and then make new habits? Is there an easy way? Or how many habits should they be changing at once, or is it once a week? What is a good way to ease into this for someone who's doing it for first time, or failing constantly?Dr Orlena:
Well, I think taking a step back before we think about habits. Firstly, to really get clear on your motivation, because, you know, why do you want to make these changes? What is it that is motivating you? And the reality is, when we make changes, life is going to happen. If it's a matter of when there are always going to be times when we think, this is too hard, I can't do it. It's like our brain flips in and out of possibility. It's like, this is great, started this new way of living, everything's fabulous. And then suddenly, it flips into despondency, which is, that left brain which is trying to keep you safe, and say, we don't like changes. This isn't great as you need to stick with it even though our brain flips in and out of that. We need to be prepared for that part of the journey too, because we have to get over those humps. I call them golden learning opportunities, because they're really important to understand exactly what's going on underneath that repeated behavior of why am I getting stuck here? What's really going on? So one thing I like to do is think about, okay, what is your long term goal? Where do you want to get to. That idea of, leading a healthy and long life, feeling amazing, and being able to move your body. The motivations have to be crystal clear so that you can dip into it when the going gets tough. I would recommend dipping into it, even when things are going well, because it's keeping that internal motivation alive. That internal motivation is going to drive you forward much more than any external motivation. For eg, I'm doing it because my doctor said it, or I'm doing it for my partner or for somebody else. It has to be, I'm doing it for me.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Yeah, like for our fatigue patients to be picturing a fatigue free lifestyle, and that they can get there. That's the whole motivation for making these new habits.Dr Orlena:
Yes, exactly. And thinking, what would my life look like? I love this question. How much energy do you have out of 10? Every single day. And, you know, what would my life look like, if it was 10 out of 10, every single day. What are the things and what are the knock on effects. You have so much more productivity and energy to do those things that you want to do and work out exactly what that means for you.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Yeah, that's great. So how do you, counsel moms, to take care of themselves, and also to help their kids to live the healthy life and have good eating habits.Dr Orlena:
So many good questions. I say to mums, the best thing that you can give your kids is your own happiness. And the second best thing is vegetables. And that first bit is really, I think important because the best way that children learn is by copying ourselves. And so you know, I talked about when I was doing work with picky eating. The hard reality about children and healthy eating habits is if you grow up in a family where they have good eating habits, you are going to get good eating habits, more or less. And if you grew up in a family where eating habits aren't so great, you're going to pick up those habits. So the best way that you can teach your kids is to make sure that your own eating habits are good. And you know, it is slightly more complicated, because you know, you don't want to get into battles, and pushing your kids. Also, I think for healthy eating in children, we have use a bit of hard love. Have a look at everything that you are giving your children. You will observe that instead of vegetables, children are given an awful lot of white, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods in any amount they demand. So, they're getting all their calories from those foods. Why on earth would they eat the vegetables? If you offer anyone a big slice of cake and a bit of broccoli, what's going to get eaten? Of course the cake is going to get eaten and that's just human nature. So it's about thinking about how do I present foods in a way that my children will eat them and allow them to have some control? But also know that I am presenting healthy foods? And the answer is pretty much you need to be giving them a healthy diet the pretty much the entire time.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
That makes a lot of sense. They are going to copy what you're going to be eating. So you have to eat well, right as a mom, and then you have to also proportion wise, not have so much sweets or processed foods and give them the vegetables that they need on their plate. So, they don't have a choice, but they do have a choice for how much.Dr Orlena:
Yeah, when I say it like that it does sound very complicated. And you think, this is just so much work. But it doesn't have to be complicated, it can actually be really easy. And if you think about, okay, Friday night, is pizza night. Everybody loves pizza, kids love pizza, but the problem with Friday night pizza night is most people say hey, we're just going to do pizza. But if you get to the stage where you've got your children into the habit of eating healthy fruits and vegetables, and that's what they're used to. And then you present them with a portion of pizza, and fruit and vegetables, which might be carrot sticks, or cucumber or whatever. Then they're eating some vegetables, and a piece of pizza. It's not a huge shift, to get your children used to it. But most of you get used to it by thinking about that portion size of what I call the desired food. And suddenly, pizza night is still pizza night, a little bit of you might have to go through a bit of transformation. But you come out the other side, and everyone's still loving pizza night. But they're also eating the healthy fruits and vegetables. And it's a much healthier plate, much healthier meal than just pizza.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Yeah, I grew up having vegetables at every meal. So you know, it's something that we're used to, but a lot of people might not be and so having to make that change might be really big for them. I counsel my patients that half your plate should be vegetables and fruits, because that's the best way to eat. That's great advice to really just change people's lifestyle from childhood and even as a parent, you have to change your own plate and the way it looks.Dr Orlena:
Yeah, my big message is vegetables. If you take away nothing, that idea to just add vegetables. It's so easy, you know, cook exactly what you're cooking. But add vegetables. Vegetables are just easy, just chop them and throw them in the oven. It's not a lot of work. What your parents did was amazing, because if you can just get used to vegetables at every meal, and your child grows up thinking, well, we just have vegetables at every meal. That's amazing. That's essentially pretty much healthy eating.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
I'm so glad we got to talk about habits and why they're so difficult to change and how people can actually change their habits. Especially for moms of picky eaters. Changing habits leads to permanent change and healthy living. So if people wanted to, you know, get a hold of you or you have any social handles where they can look you up Dr. Orlena?,Dr Orlena:
Thanks so much for asking. So my podcast is fit and fabulous at 40 and beyond. And it's aimed at adults. I don't talk about children's health in it. My website is drorlena.com. I have many handouts and resources and also have a Facebook group.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
We welcome you on The Dr. Lam show where we're here to empower people to take control of their health you know and change their habits like you to help them and if you are interested in seeing our next episodes, definitely hit like and subscribe and click the bell button on the bottom for our YouTube videos and also our podcasts. So we hope to see you at our next one.Unknown:
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