When it comes to food, the wrong habits can be disastrous. Here’s how to help yourself eat better and have more energy.
Bad Habit: Skipping Meals
Letting yourself get too hungry is one of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to lose weight. When you finally do eat, you’re likely to gobble down too much. It’s also much harder to make good choices if you’re ravenous.
Fix It: Eat breakfast and then refuel every four to five hours. If you rarely stop once your day begins, plan what you’ll eat. Consider easy options like microwaveable healthy meals, low-fat cottage cheese and fruit, or a high-fiber nutrition bar and a container of nonfat Greek yogurt. The healthy carbs and lean protein will provide long-lasting energy.
Bad Habit: Eating Out All the Time
Restaurants are a caloric minefield. Portion sizes can be huge, and chefs often have a heavy hand with salt, fat, and sugar.
Fix It: If you can’t cook at home, limit the damage. Avoid alcohol, which contains empty calories and loosens inhibitions, making it tougher to order wisely. Stick with water or have a glass of wine or a light beer if you really want a drink. Tell the waiter not to bring the bread basket, and order a salad instead. This will help curb your appetite. Ask for olive oil and vinegar on the side and go light on the oil. Next, pick a lean protein entrée, such as fish or chicken, and choose preparation methods that use little fat, such as poaching, grilling, or broiling.
Bad Habit: Using Food as Comfort
Most people who struggle with their weight use food to help them deal with negative emotions or stress. When the food is all gone, the problem is still there, and it’s been compounded by guilt over having eaten too much.
Fix It: Try labeling your feelings (“I’m sad, not hungry”), and remind yourself that eating won’t solve things. Visualize how you’ll feel after eating, and ask yourself if it’s worth it. Then choose an alternative activity, such as calling a friend, taking a walk, or reading. Over time, these activities, not food, will be the first things you think of when you need a pick-me-up.
Bad Habit: Eating When You’re Not Hungry
Snacking even though you are full makes the pounds add up.
Fix It: The next time you’re about to pop something into your mouth, assess your hunger level. If you’re not truly hungry, don’t eat. If you’re a little peckish, allow yourself to get a bit hungrier. When you do sit down to eat, adhere to the Japanese saying hara hachi bu, which means “eat until you are 80% full.” Chances are that in 15 to 20 minutes, you’ll be perfectly satisfied.