How to eat less is easier than you may think. When I taught a class in the psychology of eating for the weight reduction program, we made a few easy adjustments that actually worked to change habits. Changing habits can occur when new behaviors are practiced and supported over time. Here are a few of the important principles to follow:
1. STRESS MANAGEMENT: We all need a stress reduction list of replacement behaviors to follow. Rather than eat when stressed, we will: 1. Take a walk; 2. Call a friend; 3. Meditate; 4. Go dancing or whatever you put on your list. What has worked best is to practice your replacement behavior as soon as you get home from work every day. You reduce your stress before it builds while creating a healthy habit.
2. CONTROL YOUR TRIGGERS: When we see or smell food, it causes or triggers a biochemical change in our brain of increased gherkin, a hormone that causes hunger. Stores place impulse items near the check out area counting on this effect. Start out making a list of the things that trigger hunger in you. The common ones are TV and magazine food ads, shopping when hungry, eating out, and talking about food. I like to mute and look away from TV ads, eat before I shop, eat out less, and avoid concession stands.
3. SOCIAL SUPPORT: The more people you involve in you diet plan, the more likely it is to work. In the diet clinic, we would always pair people so they could exercise, dine, and socialize together. When one didn’t feel like taking a walk, their partner would call with encouragement. Husbands sometime feel threatened when their wife loses weight and looks better. So, they need to be a support too.
4. SLOW DOWN: I guess we are all in a rush because Americans eat very fast. The food goes down so fast, it doesn’t register with your brain. So, we keep eating until we are stuffed. One preventative technique we use is to count your chews and take smaller bites. If that’s too boring, just put your fork down between bites.
5. NO TELEVISION: TV distracts us from paying attention to our intake. The main behavior that’s correlated with being obese is TV watching while snacking. I wish I could find the source. It’s easy to just dine at the table especially if others are eating. I’m single, but I still eat at the table with a book or relaxing music. It’s an enjoyable period of calmness in a hectic day.
There are more principles, but these should be enough to get you started that fall under the category of easy to do. Once you get used to these replacement behaviors, you do them without thinking. So, go ahead and make your list, get people involved, and have fun with your new lifestyle.
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