Goal-setting strategies may involve any aspect of your life, whether it is diet, exercise, career options, schooling, lifestyle, living accommodations, etc. Common goals include training for an athletic event (marathon, gymnastics championship, wrestling match, etc.), completing a college degree, or traveling the globe. There are both similarities and differences in goal setting depending on the topic.
When it comes to the food experience, however, goal setting is a bit unique. Food experience goals are primarily set around the Six Principles of Positive Food Experiences, and are often multi-dimensional in nature. For example, you may have a goal to better understand the nutritional value of what you are eating. This may involve not only food research, but also food pairing and plating to ensure balanced nutrition in a given meal.
Regardless of the food experience topic, there are 4 main steps to the goal-setting process:
You can remember this by the acronym DDAD (as in, “My Dad will help me with goal setting.”)
Goal-Setting Strategies in Action
Let’s walk through each of these steps, using food allergies as an example.
Think about what you WANT to happen. There may be one aspect of your life you wish to focus on, or there may be many aspects. It begins with taking an introspective look at your life, your habits, your background, and your interactions with others.
In our food allergy example, say, over the course of time, you develop an allergy to dairy products. Sometimes it takes a long period of time to even realize that you have a food allergy. You may have symptoms for several years before discovering your food allergy. Because of your food allergy, your initial inclination may be to avoid dairy products altogether, but it may be worth some investigation.
Form a goal. Your goal in this case may be to enjoy dairy products without getting sick. Don’t get hung up on the plethora of possible goals. Pick ONE and move forward with it.
Analyze your present situation with regard to the goal. Regardless of the topic, you need to see what’s going on currently. If you do not have a good grip on the current situation, it is hard to know where to make changes.
There is usually a gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Consider what steps are necessary to get from Point A to Point B. Depending on the goal itself, and where you are currently in relation to that goal, there may be just a few steps required, or there may be many steps required.
In our food allergy example, keeping a food journal for a period of time to document not only what you are eating, but also how you feel after eating different foods, helps provide additional information. For example, you may feel sick after eating a slice of pizza with cheese, but you feel fine after drinking a glass of milk.
Keeping a food journal helps you understand the extent of the problem, and can offer some additional information should you choose to see a doctor about the potential allergy. The doctor can use that information to better understand the situation and provide informed guidance for moving forward.
The next step may be to get tested to understand the extent of your dairy allergy. Is it a true allergy to all dairy products? Is it an allergy to just certain dairy products (e.g., maybe milk is okay, but not cheese)?
Depending on your situation with the food allergy, there may be many different solutions. If the allergy is severe, you may just need to say goodbye to dairy products as a whole. If the allergy is minor or isolated to certain foods, you may be able to just omit that particular food or find a substitute for it. There are also lactase digestive tablets on the market, which help the body break down and digest lactose, which is the primary enzyme in dairy products.
A big key is to not try to take a giant leap from Point A to Point B. Start with small steps. Tackle one of the steps necessary first. Once you achieve that step, tackle the next one. Don’t try to eat the whole elephant at once, so to speak.
Food experience goals, particularly food allergies, can be long in duration. It’s important to not lose sight of why you set the goal in the first place.
8 Goal-Setting Strategies for a Positive Food Experience
Need more food for thought? Here are 8 strategies to keep in mind as you begin your goal-setting journey:
1. Start small.
Whether you are new to the kitchen, or a “seasoned” chef, setting small goals will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and help build your self-confidence.
2. Be specific.
Be specific about what you want to accomplish, about where you are right now in relation to that goal, and about what steps it will take to get there.
3. Be willing to learn.
Do your food research. Make smart food choices. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and learn a new cooking technique.
4. Take time to tune out.
Focus on the food experience. As you create an environment conducive to a positive food experience, that environment will help you achieve your goals. Being present in the food experience goes a long way toward achieving your goals.
5. Use the resources you have available.
In the movie Apollo 13, a group of engineers had to come up with a solution using a pile of seemingly miscellaneous parts. A similar way of thinking could be said for setting food experience goals. Cookbooks, family recipes, and a variety of ingredients hanging around your pantry can often be the impetus for goal setting.
6. Enlist the help of others.
Whether you simply have a friend you can turn to for encouragement and moral support, or a medical professional such as a doctor or allergist, tap into their knowledge! Those people with whom you interact may have a variety of knowledge and experiences associated with the situation. That person may also have gone through a similar situation and may be able to offer advice based on his or her experiences.
7. Make goal-setting a group effort.
Not all goals are individual in nature. Forming a goal as a group (of friends, family, or colleagues) helps you to motivate each other. You may come up with different ideas of how to accomplish the goal. You may each have access to different resources needed to achieve the goal. Use the power of unity. Every team has strengths and areas of improvement. Your team or group can set, work toward, and accomplish food experience goals together!
8. Don’t give up!
It may take some time to accomplish your goal. After all, there are likely many factors coming together. Be patient and stay focused on the goal.
As you have confidence in yourself, get help where you need it, and stay the course, you will be able to accomplish the goals you set out to achieve.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What strategies have worked for you in setting food experience goals? Let us know in the comments or on social media!