YOU'VE GOT TOO MANY CHOICES
Variety may be the spice of life, but it isn't the ticket to weight loss: In a new study, people who ate a range of pepperoni pizza brands (as opposed to sticking to one) were less likely to think that the food would fill them up, and were more likely to overeat later. It makes sense if you think about it—since different brands pack different portions and calories, it's tough to figure out exactly how much to eat, and the wide array of options becomes pretty overwhelming.
Try this: Forget that whole "variety is the spice of life" mantra—at least when it comes to your favorite foods. Sticking to one or two brands for each can help you get a better grip on portion control. So look up how many slices, scoops, squares—whatever—make up a serving for your best-tasting buys, and only grab those at the grocery.
YOU'RE RUNNING A RESTAURANT OUT OF YOUR KITCHEN
Are you like a line order cook in your house, dishing up one meal for you and the hubs and another for the kids? Not only will you be tempted to sneak a bite or two (and extra calories) off their plates, but the stress of making separate meals isn't worth it. "It takes too much time, and you're already busy enough," says Mark Macdonald, author of Why Kids Make You Fat…And How to Get Your Body Back. "The more tasks you put on your plate, the more crazed you feel, and the less energy you have to take care of yourself and eat well."
Try this: Think about where you fall on your priority list, and how you deserve to have your needs met, too. "I tell my patients that you can't be on the bottom, or not even on your list, when it comes to self-care," says Caroline Cederquist, M.D., author of The MD Factor. "We need to realize that what our children see us do is powerful."
And that means showing that everyone eats healthy—including you. So when you make that one meal, just flip the portion for you and the kids to make everyone happy. Give them a bigger serving of carbs and smaller portions of protein and veggies (so they're still happy about getting some nuggets, but also being exposed to healthier fare), while you dig into a double serving of vegetables, a portion of protein and a smaller amount (about 1/2 cup, nutritionists recommend) of carbs.
YOU'RE WATCHING THE WRONG THINGS ON TV
Okay, it's no secret that TV watching and eating don't exactly mix. Case in point: That moment when you look down at an empty bag of chips, but can hardly remember tasting them. But there's actually more to it, as research shows it may be more about what you're watching while you eat. Scientists recently discovered that people ate up to 55 percent more popcorn when viewing a sad movie compared to a comedy. Gotta feed your feelings, right?
Try this: First, opt for Jimmy Fallon over Nicholas Sparks. Next, think about why you're always zoning out in front of the TV—and pairing it with snacks—because you could be using it to cope with boredom or stress. "Some say that it's the only thing they get to do that's considered me-time, and food doesn't demand anything of them," says Cederquist. But that's not actually true, because comfort food wants to be carried around on your hips and belly—an awfully demanding need, she says.
So instead of turning to that nightly bowl of popcorn, Susan Albers, author of 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, suggests figuring out which of the top three comfort techniques actually makes you feel better. (Because when you reach the bottom of the bowl, do you actually feel better about yourself? Probably not.) Try reaching out to a friend for a vent session; make time for your favorite way to exercise; or pick a calming activity, like a bath, to help you unwind. Albers says not only will you actually feel less stressed, but it'll also make you less tempted to munch later on.
YOU HAVE TOO MUCH CONFIDENCE IN THE FUTURE
When you're deciding to order the burger and fries over the steak salad, do you justify the splurge? Tell yourself you'll eat lighter later, or that you'll start your diet on Monday? Research suggests that that means you're more likely to downplay the calories or amount you're eating (and choose the immediate gratification of the ice cream over the health bennies in a bowl of berries) because you assume the future will work out—as in, you'll figure out a way to eat better later.
Try this: Ask yourself: Are you putting off your health and weight loss goals because they're easier to fantasize about rather than just going for it? "The only thing that impacts our lives are the actions we take," says Cederquist. That means not living in the past or future, but the right now (if you don't, those seemingly innocent choices for the immediate gratification will start to add up quickly). "Ask yourself, 'what is the best meal I can have right now?' Then make it," she says. Sometimes it really is that simple.
YOU'RE FOCUSED ON THE FAST FIX
To boost your energy during the day, you rely on quick methods, like caffeine and energy drinks, and up your mood with wine at night. But all those things throw off your hormonal balance, including the stress hormone cortisol, says Jackie Warner, celebrity personal trainer and author of This is Why You're Sick and Tired. These quick fixes can lead to burnout and impair sleep, creating a cycle of exhaustion that leads to overeating and weight gain.
Try this: Apologies in advance for asking, but Warner would like you to take out the wine—or at least the daily indulgence of it. "People who sip a glass at night usually have 10 extra pounds they can't lose," she says, and it's often related to an "oral fixation" where you like to be doing something with your hands and mouth (like drinking or snacking) to cope with chronic stress. So think about the underlying cause, first: Is there too much on your plate at work? A frenzied schedule? A disorganized home?.
Albers uses what she calls the SWAP approach. Start by saying how you feel (angry, hurt, stressed); wait and count to five; address the feeling (I feel this way because this is happening in this part of my life); pursue another activity for five minutes. She says that's enough time to break free of the stress-eating (or drinking) habit, and opens the door to come up with more permanent strategies to fix any ongoing problems..
YOU'RE DINING WITH A SPEED EATER
If one of your girlfriends is wolfing the chips and salsa, you will too. Recent research found that we feel pressure to eat like our dining companions—when pairs of women were analyzed while eating, scientists realized that when one took a bite, the other was more likely to do the same. Turns out women mimic each other's behaviors as a way to fit in, a habit that can make you eat way more than normal..
Try this: Since you're boosting your speed subconsciously, pick up habits that naturally help you slow down, says Kimberly Gomer, R.D., director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa. Use chopsticks when they're available, or try eating with your non-dominant hand..
Most importantly, Gomer suggests taking a deep breath before digging in, and evaluating your hunger. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is starving, 10 is food coma), you should aim to start eating at a 3 (I'm hungry!) and stop at a 6 (I feel light and energetic), she advises. To reach that, it may mean purposefully slowing down so you can feel hunger and fullness cues—and actually listening to them..
YOUR PERSONALITY IS MAKING YOU DO IT
Alas, the truth finally comes out. Swiss researchers examined how personality traits influence eating habits, and they found that anxious, emotional, and—surprisingly—extroverted people are more likely to eat high-calorie sweet and savory foods, meat, and soda. On the other hand, if you're conscientious, you're less likely to emotionally eat. Consider yourself open to new experiences? You're more likely to experiment with fruits and veggies and pick the roasted Brussels sprouts and salad off the menu..
Try this: You can't change your personality, but you can change your eating styles. If, say, your anxiety pushes your hand into the chips to stress eat, it might help to be more active, say researchers. Emotional eaters who exercise often have a lower BMI, and they tend to eat healthier foods when stressed out. Bring on the carrots!.
Picture Credit: womansday.com
Author: Jessica Migala from Redbook
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