Having good habits for weight loss can be successfully integrated into everyday living.
Trying to lose weight is a challenge. There is so much information available as to what diet is best that quite frankly the whole thing is really daunting.
I personally do not like to feel as if I am on a diet – the idea of measuring things out or the feeling that I am depriving myself of something is not how I like to live. For me, losing weight starts with the mind, so I decided to explore some good habits for weight loss. Here are ten habits that I believe are manageable and achievable.
1 Assess Your Current Habits
Many of us can identify when our meals are, and what we eat. But what about those in-between times? There are many opportunities during the day when we eat without really being aware of it. The sneaky biscuit with coffee. I mean does one really matter? Or, if you have children the temptation to finish what is left on their plate. All these little extras do soon mount up. It is important to be aware of when we are doing things like this as it all adds to the calorie intake.
In assessing what is currently being eaten, we have to be totally honest with ourselves and capture each morsel that enters our mouths.
2 Create Menu Plans
There are so many benefits to taking the time to plan your menu. For a start it can help you save time when you are shopping. Especially if you go to the supermarket with a list and stick to that list. No meandering up and down the aisles picking up goodies at random. The problem with this is that we are drawn towards what we fancy at that time. Not what we are going to feel like eating in a few days.
Planning also takes the effort of having to make ongoing decisions when mealtime comes around. The, what shall we have? What do I fancy? I cannot be bothered, let’s get a takeaway! By making our meal plans in advance, we can create variety in what we are cooking. It also encourages us to use up what is in the fridge. Not only does this minimise wastage, but it also saves money. That’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.
3 Always Eat Before Going Shopping
Bear with me on this, as it does make sense. If you go food shopping when you are hungry there is a temptation to fill your basket with all those goodies that you know will make you feel better. Usually these are quick unhealthy snacks. There is a reason why shops put sweets and chocolate by the checkout!
In the same way, if you are doing other types of shopping for example buying stationery (ha, not that I do this myself, ahem) then access to fast-food places is just too damn easy. As well as the temptation to stop for a coffee and also a bun, or a burger or … you get the picture.
4 Have Regular Mealtimes
Having regular mealtimes creates a consistent routine, and it can also promote a degree of self-control which are all good habits to get into. Our bodies need food to provide the energy throughout the day so that we can perform at our best. I know that when I have not eaten I do feel tetchy and irritable. This brings me onto skipping meals.
It might seem that by skipping meals we are saving our calorie intake. But the trouble with this, as I know from personal experience is that the hunger pangs can be unbearable which could lead me to snack on something unhealthy, or I literally pig out at the next meal. Research from the Harvard Medical School highlights that “Our bodies are also programmed to sense a lack of food as starvation. In response, our [basal metabolic rate] (BMR) slows down, which means fewer calories burned over time.” In other words, we do not actually lose weight as our metabolic rate reduces accordingly.
5 Sit At A Table To Eat
Personally I find that sitting at a table to eat is a sociable experience. It is an opportunity to catch up with my husband about our different day.
In addition to being sociable, sitting at a table to eat also signals to the mind that it is time to eat and reinforces the habit that when I sit at the table, this is when and only when I eat. Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, stresses the importance that cues have on our behaviour. So the cue for me is sitting at the table and the behaviour is to eat my meal. The reward is that I eat a proper meal that is satisfying. As a result, I do not need to snack.
Sitting upright also helps with digestion, so there are definite health benefits to it. Sitting upright also helps prevent bloating and heaviness. Which also means that digesting and eliminating toxins from the body is achieved more easily.
6 Serve Food On A Plate
Although it is really sociable to have food in bowls on the table where people can help themselves to what they want, the danger is that it is difficult to keep track of how much is eaten. I know that when I participate in these meals I tend to start off with a small plate and then as I come close to finishing I add more on. As a result I eat more than I would do if I just had a plate of food doled out at the beginning.
Keeps temptation out of the way, and only eat one plateful.
7 Practice Mindful Eating
When I eat, I want it to be a pleasurable activity for satisfying my hunger. But, oh so often I don’t pay attention to what I eat and as a result I am eating the wrong things and well, just gobbling everything up in sight usually at speed.
Taking small bites and savouring each mouthful is far better than putting forkfuls into your mouth. Did you know it takes about 20 minutes before your tummy tells the brain that you are full? If you eat in a hurry then more will be eaten before the brain can register that you have had enough.
Mindful eating is so much more than just eating slowly though. It is all about enjoying the food and recognising the effects it has on the body. I don’t want to feel guilty about what I eat, so if I am conscious of it, then I tend to make the right choices for me and my body.
8 Don’t Eat After Dinner
Once dinner is over then so should the eating be. In the past, I have been tempted to snack later by having a cup of tea and something sweet, or settling down in front of the TV with a glass of wine and something to nibble on. One thing that works for me is brushing my teeth.
There is something about having a clean mouth that not only makes the food taste a bit funny, but psychologically you are telling yourself that you have finished eating.
9 Keep The Healthy Foods Visible (and hide away the bad stuff)
I am a simple soul and simple and easy things please me. A lot of why I eat rubbish is that I have perceived it to be easier to grab a naughty snack. These days I don’t keep any biscuits or crisps in the house so eating a healthy something should be easy right? Sadly not. At times I have bought lovely fruit that has been kept in the fridge, only to be thrown out at the end of the week because it has gone all ‘gunky’.
James Clear in his book Atomic Habits suggests keeping the healthy stuff out in the open. A beautifully positioned bowl of healthy fruit sitting on a kitchen counter is more likely to be eaten as it becomes so easy to just pick something out. Keeping it in the fridge requires extra effort – and in my case a memory to remember that it is in there!
10 Keep A Food Journal
In doing some research I came across a number of dieters who said that a key factor in their weight loss was keeping a food journal. As such, it is a good habit for weight loss.
I mentioned earlier that it can be so easy to forget what we have been eating during the day. Keeping a food journal can help identify our eating habits and patterns. It also helps keep a track of when we may feel temptation as well as helping to increase self-control. Do I really want to admit that I had that biscuit – or whatever it is I have just put into my mouth for no real apparent reason? Keeping a food journal can also be motivational. Wouldn’t it be good to look back on the week and identify the progress that has been made?
By tracking progress, adjustments can be made. We can look at the triggers and consider ways of dealing with them. But, and there is a big but, the journal is only as good as the information that is put into it. Full honesty is required.
Having good habits for weight loss is an investment to a better, more mindful eating. The great thing about habits is that they can be easily monitored and followed. I hope that these ten good habits for weight loss help you as you look to introduce a new relationship with food.