Photo from Harvard Health Letter
Still recovering from bad eating behavior on a recent cruise, I needed to review these ideas and see which ones might speed my process. You may already use some of these tricks, but hopefully there is something useful.
- The best results for weight and health are had by planning to improving your eating habits for a lifetime, rather than going on a short term “diet”.
- Get in the habit of eating real food (Honestly, following the recommendations on that link may be ALL that you need to do!) Refined processed foods (e.g. those containing flour, white rice, sugar, artificial sweeteners, partially hydrogenated fats and artificial ingredients) do not nourish your cells, or your good bacteria and you will be hungry again soon. Veggies are extremely important for disease prevention and are low in calories but high in water and fiber that feed the good bacteria. In time they make you crave more veggies.
- Keep a simple “diary” and see if patterns emerge and you can figure out what emotions trigger you to overeat or eat comfort foods that you know are not in your best interest. It can be as simple as making a running list on a notepad. Or, if it is easier, this linked form can be printed out and copied (or used as a guide for one you make).
- Planning meals ahead of time and shopping when you are not hungry helps a lot. Once a food is in the cupboard or fridge, it becomes a temptation. Research shows that when people buy large size packages (e.g. at the club stores) they eat more.
- As noted at the Real Food link in #2 above, sugar plays havoc with your blood sugar, thereby creating fatigue and cravings. Each meal should contain protein because it helps metabolism and reduces between-meal hunger. Learn about low glycemic foods. Remember that liquids can be calories too.
- Don’t be afraid of dietary fat—good fats actually burn body fat. (More details in the Real Food Link—see #2)
- Drink plenty of pure water because the body is 70% water and uses water in virtually every chemical reaction. Water improves metabolism, reduces appetite and helps detoxification. Of course, you want filtered water without toxins.
- Don’t skip meals if you find that makes you hungrier later, e.g. breakfast. (Just make sure it isn’t a toaster pastry!) Some people do better without breakfast and the research makes it seem you shouldn’t force yourself. In any case, eat often enough that you don’t get overly hungry. (When you do, your survival instincts take over and good judgment goes out the window.)
- Blunt your appetite with water 30 minutes before meals. (For extra benefit, add a scoop of Sweet Wheat. Feeding your cells all those nutrients will make you less likely to overindulge.)
- Select portion sizes that are less than you think you need. You can go back! Use a smaller plate because research by Brian Wansink, PhD has shown that it and other physical cues help. If eating out, ask for a to-go box when you order and set aside half of what are so oftent giant portions. Stop eating when you are full even if your plate is not clean. (No matter what guilt mom might have implied, those starving children in the 3rd world will still be hungry even if you are uncomfortably stuffed.)
- Just like the advice to avoid grocery shopping when hungry, don’t go to a party hungry. When your blood sugar gets low, survival instincts don’t want celery…it wants instant gratification like a brownie. Eating even a few almonds or part of a protein bar may be enough preventive eating.
- Pay attention to where and how you eat. Don’t eat in the car or in front of the TV where you will be distracted from the rest of these factors. Get yourself into a peaceful mood (saying Grace perhaps?).
- Try to avoid eating around people who have bad eating habits—those are contagious.
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly, focusing on the food with all your senses. This helps digestion and the psychological satisfaction from a meal.
- Stop eating at 6 PM if you can. Besides the unneeded extra calories (late night grazing is probably not broccoli, right?), your metabolism should be shutting down for the night. The extra food also short circuits Leptin, the signaling mechanism that tells your body to burn or store fat.
- Of course, you know that you should do aerobic exercise, but don’t forget strength training. Muscle burns fat even when you are not exercising. Vigorous exercise helps with the blue moods that can drive us to comfort foods. Read more.
- Good digestion and even the right type of microorganisms in your digestive tract help boost metabolism and reduce appetite. It has been found that obese people have a different blend of probiotic organisms in their digestive track than do slim folk. Read about probiotics.
- Check your thyroid function because that gland regulates metabolism and therefore how much fat you can burn. Learn more about iodine that is needed to make thyroid hormone. This links to a show on iodine.
- Also pay attention to the liver. If it is congested with toxins, fat storage increases. The liver loves fresh vegetables. Also consider the supplement Reg’ Activ DETOX & LIVER HEALTH.
- Food sensitivities can lead to weight gain. Read more.
- A good supplement program will keep your chemistry running smoothly and help avoid cravings. Consider adding chromium to your basic plan because it helps regulate blood sugar and therefore reduces cravings. Ceylon cinnamon does as well. Here is a product that contains both.
- Forgive yourself if you break a rule you set for yourself. Start over again. Getting blue about failure may itself lead to more eating…the proverbial vicious cycle.
- Read about the motivating benefits of movement.
- Be more concerned about the percentage of your body that is fat than what the scale says. (It is not healthy to be a skinny fat person.) Doing strength training adds lean tissue that burns fat.
- Perhaps try an app to change how you view food and your cravings. EatRightNow is an example. (Check reviews.)
Photo from Harvard Health Letter