If you are guilty of any one of the habits listed below, do yourself a favour and don't try to fix them all at once. "Target just one or two behaviours at first—ones that you can make the most difference by changing," says Jennifer McDaniel, RD, of St. Louis University.
Trying to change too many habits at one time can be overwhelming. If you take it slow, you have a greater chance of success. Why not set yourself up to succeed, right?
Without any more delay, here's the list:
1. Skipping meals and snacks
Not eating not only damages your body's ability to control hunger, it also stomps all over your willpower. "Regulating yourself is a brain activity, and your brain runs on glucose," says Martin Ginis. If you skip a meal or a snack, your brain may not have the energy to combat overeating later in the day.
Spread your calories over the course of the day. Restriction leads to overeating so "spread your calories out into three meals of about 500 calories each, and two snacks of 100 to 200 calories each," says Liz Applegate, PhD, director of sports nutrition at the University of California at Davis.
You aren't denying yourself food, you are just eating it more slowly. By eating slowly, you give your brain and belly time to get on the same page which prevents eating beyond fullness.
Give your body time. Enjoy your food. Eliminate distractions like the television or the newspaper. Put your utensils down between bites and chew your food completely. If you feel like you are chewing too much, you're doing it right. Being mindful of what you are putting into your body is so important when it comes to weight loss.
3. Pigging out on weekends
Overeating on the weekend doesn't set you up for a very good week. A study found in the Journal of Clinical Investigation
used rats to examine the effects of palmitic acid on leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite. Palmitic acid is found in saturated fat which, of course, is found in most of our favourite weekend binge foods. "We found that within 3 days, the saturated fat blunts or blocks the ability of leptin to regulate food intake and body weight," says study author Deborah Clegg, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern medical centre. So, weekend binges = set backs during the week.
you don't have to give it all up completely. Try limiting yourself to one cheat meal instead of an entire weekend of them.
4. Gorging on salty snacks
Sodium is a dangerous beast and can cause you to eat unconsciously. Popcorn at the movies, chips on the couch. They add up.
On a sodium reduced diet, salt cravings go away after a few weeks. It isn't easy to replace your favourite salty snacks with carrots or celery but try. If you are cooking, skip the salt in the dish and just add a little dash at the table. It is more noticeable on the surface of food and so you will be using less!
We're talking alcohol here. If you are drinking two beers a night, which seems completely reasonable, it can add up to close to 2,000 extra calories a week! That's almost an extra day's worth of calories. Booze can also limit your inhibitions which can undermine your willpower and cause you to make poor food choices.
Give it up for a week. See what happens to your weight. See how your clothes fit. If you can live on less, do it. When you do drink, try to choose the lowest calorie option possible.
6. Eating in front of the TV, then dozing off.
Eating in front of the television is far from mindful eating. You are distracted and not paying attention to how much you are consuming. There are many studies that have demonstrated that people who eat in front of the television consume more calories than those who don't. And the more TV someone watches, the less active they are on average. So, you are taking in more calories and burning very few. It is also important to get a full 8 hours of sleep at night and if you are dozing on the couch, you are not getting the full, restorative sleep you need. Besides, it has been shown that people who don't get enough sleep at night tend to eat more calories.
Donald Hensrud, MD, medical editor-in-chief of The Mayo Clinic Diet
, says, "If you want to watch TV, be active at the same time or go work out and come back—then you can treat yourself with some TV." Use or invest in a DVR so that you can watch your favourite shows at a time when you aren't supposed to be sleeping!
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