Managing our weight may sound funny but in essence, that is what each of us does every day. We have free will to make our own decisions on what we choose to eat, when and how much. But for many who are unsatisfied with their weight, learning better ways to control or manage the number that appear on a weight scale does help.
Not that it’s all about what you weigh but rather how you approach eating - what is your eating style? Are you an emotional eater who comes home after a bad day and eats everything in sight to make yourself feel better? Do you skip meals and then by the end of the day, you are so famished that you end up gorging yourself throughout the evening until bedtime? Recognizing your patterns of eating and what triggers them is a good start to the process of becoming a more effective manager of your food intake.
It’s not that most of us don’t know what we should be eating as you’ve heard a thousand times before – eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. The real challenge is changing your habits to naturally make those healthy choices part of your everyday routine without feeling too deprived.
Here are 3 habits that can get you started on the road to where you are in the driver’s seat of your body’s weight destination:
1. Eat more meals at home
Even though eating out is always fun – no food to prepare or dishes to clean up – you’re also at the mercy of what the restaurant is serving. In other words, you are not the manager. And there is no doubt restaurant meals are usually loaded with too many calories, salt, fat, and sugar, which leaves you flapping like a fish out of water feeling out of control.
Home-cooked meals are the way to go. You are in control deciding what you will serve, what ingredients you’ll use and how much food you end up putting on your plate. Planning ahead is a must in order to make eating at home more likely to happen. Carve out some time each week (or day) to devote to meal planning and shopping. To save time in the kitchen, take advantage of precut veggies and fruits, and stock up on easy, wholesome snacks like nuts and low-fat cheese sticks.
2. Eat slowly and mindfully
Eating a meal is not like the Kentucky Derby – there is no big prize for whoever finishes first. It takes about 20 minutes from the time of your first bite for your brain to receive the “I’m full” message sent by the gut hormones from the stomach. Become more mindful by paying attention to how your body is feeling throughout the meal. When you first sit down to eat meal, assess how you feel hunger-wise and then assess the feeling again about halfway through eating. You should notice a difference. When you eat too quickly, you won’t be paying attention to that and you are more likely to overeat. Learn to stretch out your mealtimes by chewing eat bite a little longer, setting down your fork between each bite, and taking frequent sips of water during your meal.
3. Spread your calories evenly over each meal
Most of us tend to eat a small breakfast (if at all), a little bit bigger lunch, and then a much bigger dinner. But you would be better off spreading your calories more evenly throughout the day. If you eat just a small breakfast or skip it altogether, by the time lunch comes around you will most likely be quite hungry and end up choosing not so healthy foods. Or if you barely eat much of a lunch, your dinner meal often turns out to be a high calorie food feast.
Instead, try to have about the same amount of food and portion sizes at each meal. This helps spread the calories out more evenly over the course of the day. Eating in this manner When you eat in this manner, you will find you are not yourself getting hunger spikes nearly as frequently since you are feeding your body at regular intervals. Your body will respond better when it knows you are feeding it regularly and consistently each day – think of it sort of like keeping a fire going inside of a fireplace. Once you see the fire beginning to slow down or burn out, you feed it more logs, making the fire roar again. Same instead of slowing its metabolism down when you go for long stretches at a time of not eating or eating too little food, your metabolism will keep on humming along burning calories more efficiently