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How Can Applied Behavior Analysis Help with Nutrition?


Everyone eats.

Eating, is a behavior. It is observable (you can see someone chewing), it is definable (you can define what the beginning and ending of a bite looks like) and it is measurable (you can measure the time it takes to finish a bite).

Everyone has a diet.

A diet is simply the makeup of food that you ingest on a daily basis. I know the word "diet" has negative connotations for most of us. We are talking about the daily menu of which you like to eat, not the rule-governed approach that we use to deprive ourselves of our favorite sweets for looser pants.


How does understanding eating is a behavior help with the diet that you eat every day?


I am glad you asked. Here are three ways that ABA helps you in understanding your diet and your nutritional wellness journey.


  1. Behavior Analysis is Amoral- Simply put, there is no "good" or "bad". There is only data. Instead of the typical approach to diet and nutritional wellness where we are judged by some unseen moral police if we have the donut or we have two of them, data removes guilt. ABA uses data collection to understand specifics about the three terms I said earlier (observable, definable and measurable) of every behavior that we use it for.

  2. Behavior Analysis is data driven- Surprise Surprise. ABA utilizes data to look at where you are and project where you can sustainably go when it comes to making nutritional wellness goals. Take counting Macronutrients for example. When I give a client a set of Macros. that doesn't happen until I have 5-7 days worth of caloric data of their current diet. How can I send someone on a journey if all I have is the end point and I don't know where they are starting? We typically would do a baseline assessment and make small changes week over week to make our way to the goal that is set. There is no guessing, it is all evidenced based magic.

  3. Behavior Analysis is personal- If you haven't caught on by now, this is all about you. The goals, the behaviors, the data it is all driven by your values and your desires. ABA as it is used in the Behavior Chef method is done in a way that puts you in in the drivers seat of behavior change fueled by the values and outcomes that are important to you. We get personal.

Behavior change is the biggest component that is missing for long term success with any given diet, fitness or wellness routine. The problem isn't you. The problem comes from attempting to change and making the attempt so hard to achieve that when motivation runs out, you stop trying.


Maybe it is time to try something different?


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Clint Evans

BCBA-LBA, PN1






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