Do you want to lose weight, but have trouble sticking to a plan? No matter what diet you are on, these strategies will help you get your head in the game and set you up to succeed.
#1 - Eyes on the Prize: Write down why you want to be at a healthy weight. Do you want to have less joint pain so you can play with your grandchildren? Is it so you will feel better about yourself and have less negative self-talk? Is it to have more energy? You will need compelling reasons why you want to lose weight in order to get through the summer barbecues, Halloween candy, Christmas parties and sometimes just the supermarket checkout!
#2 - Conscious Eating: Before you eat anything, take three deep breaths. Check in with your self and your body. Listen for what is motivating your desire to eat. Is it hunger or an emotion? If it is hunger, then consciously choose nourishing food. If it is an emotion, a craving, or a body sensation other than hunger, keep breathing and find another outlet for your feelings.
#3 - Know your triggers for overeating: Chances are by now you know where the rough spots are. Does boredom send you to the fridge, or do pot-luck dinners result in some serious grazing? Make a plan for dealing with your known trigger situations. Since most diets fall apart when we are under stress, have a list on your fridge of 10 ways to reduce emotional stress without eating. Some good examples are: going for a walk, writing in a journal, reading a spiritual book, talking to a supportive friend, deep breathing, or yoga.
#4 - Menu Plan: Many diet books recommend writing down what you have eaten. This strategy can be a helpful part of conscious eating. However, writing down what you are going to eat is also very important. Knowing there is a plan in place means less impulsive eating. Planning ahead means that shopping and cooking are more efficient and you will be more likely to stay on track.
#5 - Eat to 80 per cent full: Many people who have dieted extensively have a "scarcity consciousness" when it comes to food and they feel they have to eat everything now because there may not be food later. Trust that it is okay to eat just enough to feel comfortably satisfied without feeling stuffed. If you do get hungry, don't panic. If you find yourself saying, "I'm starving," reframe that survival mode thinking with "I'm hungry, and when the time is right, there will be plenty of healthy food to eat".
#6 - Eat three meals a day plus planned snacks: Skipping meals makes conscious eating very difficult. It is hard enough to make good food choices without dealing with the brain fog of low blood sugar. Eat three balanced meals a day, and plan on healthy snacks for mid morning and afternoon. Doing so will keep your blood sugar and energy stable to avoid the temptation to eat sugar for "quick energy". Nuts like raw almonds make a very good mid afternoon snack.
#7 - Eliminate late night eating: In many cultures, the evening meal is quite small, thus not loading up the body with calories it can't burn in the quiet of the evening. I advocate eating a modest meal in the early evening, brushing your teeth, and forgoing eating for the rest of the evening. This strategy eliminates some of the most disastrous eating patterns - eating in front of the TV and grazing all evening on quick, junk food.
Remember, your food becomes who you are. Let your food serve your health first and your taste buds second. Taking charge of your eating habits is an essential step to taking charge of your health.
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