WHEN Frank and Karla Mah became concerned about the long-term effects of over-eating, they turned to family doctor Andrew Eddy for help. “We’ve both struggled with weight since we turned 40,” Karla says. “We were concerned about how it might affect our blood pressure and cholesterol levels.” As it turned out, Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network had just started Craving Change™, a free program designed to help people build a healthier relationship with food.

The couple decided to attend.

1. WHY YOU EAT THE WAY YOU DO

While most healthy eating programs teach patients what to eat and when, Craving Change™ focuses on thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It helps people understand why they make poor food choices and offers tools to develop new habits. “It was amazing,” says Karla, who attended a 4-week workshop with Frank. “I’m just so grateful for the awareness.”

Karla learned she was more likely to eat when she was bored or tired and that night times were more challenging. Instead of watching television after dinner, she now goes for a walk, reads or works on her finances — taking herself away from food and out of her ordinary routine.

2. HOW TO CHANGE

Karla says Craving Change’s™ ‘change buffet’ of strategies continues to help when cravings hit. “I try different things,” she says. “I might stop and wait before I eat to see if the urge passes. Or I might choose a smaller plate at dinner (with the aim of eating a smaller portion). It’s a work in progress, but Craving Change™ has given me hope.”

3. GROUP HELP

Facilitator Shirley Sullivan, a health management nurse, says offering Craving Change™ in a group setting offers unique support. “Sometimes people forget how challenging behavior change is and blame themselves,” she says. “It is reassuring to be in an environment where you know you are not alone.”