Eating Habits – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Are you the type of person who shovels snacks into your mouth while at the computer or TV, barely noticing the taste or amount of the food you’re eating? Do you still believe it’s a crime not to finish everything on your plate? I call this the starving kids in China syndrome. My dad used to say this quite often. Then as we got older, he changed it to “waste not, want not”. I heard this all my life… actually as recently as last week.

Some eating habits make it impossible to take off those extra pounds, because they are so ingrained you aren’t even conscious of them.

The good news: You can absolutely learn to break these old patterns and substitute better ones, which is a key ingredient to a successful diet. Even better news: In time, these healthy routines will become such a part of your life, they will be second nature. So not only can you lose the weight but you can keep it off, too.

1) Declare a No-Food Zone. Decide on the eating places in your house—just your dining room table, for example—and declare other places No Food Zones. If you have a habit of eating in your car, in front of the television, or while you’re at the computer, make those No Food Zones—even for healthy snacks. If you train yourself to eat only in very specific situations, you will learn to control food consumption outside of normal meal times.

2)  Make rules and stick to them. To keep calories in check you can simply establish a rule for yourself. For example: At work, never eat anything unless you bought it, brought it, or asked for it. You won’t have to torture yourself every time someone brings cupcakes to work, not to mention birthday parties, goodbye parties, Valentine’s Day, Girl Scout cookie season, Halloween… Or another rule might be that you can only eat carbs if you have exercises for at least 30 minutes. (And by carbs, I mean healthy carbs of course)

3) Put the whole meal in your hand. If you want to lose weight, one of the most important elements is how much you eat. People don’t realize the volume of food they’re eating and the speed at which they’re eating it. To figure out how much you should be eating, put your hand over your plate and see how many palmfuls or fistfuls of food you have on it. A serving size of meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of the palm of your hand; your closed fist is the volume of one cup of veggies, pasta, or rice — your own personal measuring device with you everywhere you go. Tip: Try to let least twenty minutes pass between the start and end of a meal—even if you have to get up and leave the table somewhere in between first and last bite.  

4) Eat mindfully. Mindful eating is when you’re aware of what you’re choosing to eat, how much you are eating, and when you are starting to feel full. It’s difficult when you’re grabbing what you can and gobbling it in front of the television before running out the door. Another source of overeating is the hectic pace of life that afflicts us all. We get geared up, and eating becomes an afterthought; so it is easy to grab things (usually unhealthy things) along the way. So set aside a half an hour of calm, focused eating for each meal.

If you are thinking that a calm, focused 1/2 hour is hard to come by several times a day, I call bull sh** (as my husband would say). You are not making a healthy diet your priority. If you really want to, you can set aside a 1/2 hour or even just 20 minutes for each meal to ensure you are eating mindfully all day long.

Consider these tips and start to incorporate them into your routine. Before you know it your good eating habits will far outweigh the bad and the ugly ones.

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