By Judy Weitzman
Has emotional eating taken over your life? Are you eating because you are hungry or to fill a void? The first step to identifying why you are eating is to decide if you are really hungry. Often times we are stressed out or over-tired and other times we are simply thirsty. By paying close attention to your behaviors, you will be able to modify your eating habits and lose weight.
Are you hungry?
Is your stomach making embarrassing noises? To make sure you are really hungry, walk away from the kitchen (or whatever food source is nearby) and think about what you are craving. After you identify it, wait 15-20 minutes. If you are still craving it and feel hungry, go for it. If you cannot identify what you are craving, you are not hungry. You are probably just tired or thirsty. Drink a glass of water then take a brisk walk, a power nap or a shower to wake up.
Write it down
There have been numerous articles and studies done that confirm people lose more weight when they track what they are eating. Keep a food journal every day and watch your eating patterns. You will be able to identify what time of day you need to be prepared; then you can adjust the times of day you eat accordingly. There are several websites where you can log your food intake and the website will give you the nutritional breakdown….oh so cool.
Make a list
And I am not talking Christmas here. Many people turn to food for comfort or when they feel stressed. This behavior can be changed. One way to do it is to create a “to-do” list. Things like putting pictures in albums, crocheting a scarf for a friend, cleaning out a closet or drawer, changing the color of your nail polish, the list goes on and on. The cool part of the list is that when you turn your attention from food to an activity, you will forget about the food. Plus you will be able to cross one of your “to-do’s” off the list – it is a win-win.
Mindless eating throughout the day can be lethal. It is best to have planned snacks. When you go to the grocery store and stock up, allow for an hour or two after you get home from the store to prep your foods. How many times have you thrown out food you didn’t eat? If the celery is not cut and cleaned, odds are you will have a limp stalk in your fridge or heaven forbid, you could be growing penicillin. By having your food ready to eat, you will you be able to make better choices and eat healthier.
Since we were just talking about snacks in the fridge, it reminded me of another great tip. Take your fruits and veggies out of the drawers. Put them in clear containers on the shelf so you can see them. Next time you go looking for something to munch, you will find healthier choices at eye-level. Trust me, it works.
One of the biggest no-no’s! Many of my clients don’t like to eat breakfast or get too busy to eat lunch. There is no excuse for this behavior. Have you ever heard the old adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”? I believe eating three meals a day is the best way to keep your energy up and it also keeps your metabolism working. Food is fuel and you need it for peak performance. Plus when you skip a meal, there is a strong chance that you will be ravenous the next time you eat. When that happens you will eat too fast and more than you need. Take this concept up a notch and add in planned snacks so you are eating six small meals a day and never have that empty feeling.
Water is your friend. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water everyday. Recently there was a report saying that by drinking your daily requirement for water, you could lose five pounds in a year. How cool is that? There are other benefits as well. Your skin feels better when you drink lots of water and you have the feeling of being full, therefore you don’t eat as much. Eight glasses might sound overwhelming if you are not in the habit of drinking lots of water but it’s not. Eight ounces is only a cup, not a tall water glass. Drink two cups at each meal and you only have two left. Advice: Drink your water throughout the day, if you drink it too late in the day, you might wake up during the night to go to the bathroom.
Last but not least……the land of nod
Sleep is one of the most important components of living a healthy lifestyle and is critical if you are trying to lose weight. When you are tired, you lose your willpower and give in to your cravings. It is so human to eat to stay awake. How many times have you raided the kitchen after 9pm while you are watching TV. Between the enticement of commercials and sheer exhaustion, you would be better off just going to bed. When you are rested you make better decisions in every part of your life.
Whatever your eating behaviors are, you have made them your current habits. It only takes three weeks to change a habit. Try making one change at a time and you will live a healthier life. And remember, eating a huge piece of cake will not solve your problems. Food is fuel and gives you energy; it does not solve your problems.