0405Most experts contend that obesity (or being overweight) must be accepted as a “condition,” that, like diabetes, requires constant life-time monitoring to control. Reaching a goal weight and then returning to “normal” eating is not an option. “Normal” eating caused the problem. This is why we are told that diets do not work—they are short term. It is necessary to develop new and sustainable healthy habits based on individual lifestyles and preferences.

Study your eating habits using a food journal

Becoming aware of eating patterns is absolutely key to developing better habits, and a few days of intense focus in this area can be stunningly revelatory. An excellent tool with which to begin the awareness process is to keep a food journal for several days. By recording what is eaten, how much, when, and why, we can become aware of patterns that may be contributing to weight control difficulties.  Keeping a journal can be continued indefinitely, during weight loss, for maintenance, and as a tool to derail a weight-regaining trend. Self-monitoring helps avoid reverting to old habits.

Things to track in your food journal

Initially, a journal should be as detailed as possible. Keeping a journal for five to seven days while eating “normally” provides a clear picture of current patterns and habits.

  • Record food amounts in detail including amounts of calories and fat. While learning healthier habits, measure or weigh all food eaten.
Get feedback by stepping on the scale weekly and pay attention to the fit of your clothing.
  • Monitor daily exercise. Good health requires exercise, and challenging yourself to work a little harder and monitoring your progress helps avoid boredom.
  • Note when you eat. Are you eating regular meals, skipping breakfast, or eating consistently at 1:00am?
Note where you eat.  Do you eat most meals at home, in restaurants, at work? How does this break down?
Note who you eat with.  Are you alone or with family?  Do you have “eating buddies,” people with whom you consistently overeat, or socialize with as an excuse to eat?
  • Note how you feel when you eat.  Are your meal times relaxed or rushed and harried?
  • Note how you act at restaurants.  Do you consider it “free food,” if it’s a celebration or you’re on a  vacation?

17 Tips for Successful Weight Loss

  1. Attend to food as if you were a food critic, savoring each bite and analyzing every flavor.
  2. After a bit of dietary backsliding, do you tend to think, “I’ve already blown it, so eating more won’t matter.”  It will. Forgive yourself, pledge to do better, and move on.
  3. Evaluate your pantry. If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.
  4. If you experience “head hunger” when angry, stressed or frustrated and crave chewy or crunchy foods, remember that exercise is a better option.
  5. Recognize the impulse to use food as a diversion when there’s boring work to be done—bill paying, house cleaning, income taxes— and popcorn and cookies seems like it would make it more fun.  Instead, blast some music and get your groove on.
  6. Stop trying to give your eating habits a fad diet label, like “I’m doing the ____ Diet.”  Instead,  start thinking “I’m doing a Healthy New Lifestyle.”
If you feel the need to clean your plate even after you’re full because you don’t want to waste food, remember that you can store it, freeze it, or compost it.
  8. If you find yourself often eating in your car then you must portion the meal carefully before you start your drive.  It’s easy to eat a whole bag of something while you’re in traffic.
  9. Rather than eat until you feel full after meals, instead aim for somewhere between not starving and full. Learn how that feels.
  10. Remember to have realistic goals.  Not everyone can or should be a size 4, but the vast majority of us can be much healthier.
  11. When at a restaurant, asked for the bread basket to be removed. Those calories count (a lot).
  12. Instead of eating a lot of pasta with a little red sauce or a lot of rice with a few vegetables, reverse this ratio.  You will lower the amount of calories you eat and  raise the vitamin and antioxidant amount you get.  Plus, you can eat more food for the same amount of calories!
  13. Calories spent on sodas, designer coffees, or alcoholic beverages add up fast. Two 20 ounce sodas per day provide 500 calories. Skip them and lose a pound per week.
  14. While you learn healthier food habits, give yourself a break and buy convenience foods like pre-cut fruits, vegetables and pre-made salads (just skip the dressing).
  15. Pay attention to how much tasting you do as you cook. It is possible to consume an entire main dish portion before the food even makes it to the table.
  16. Keep your walking/running shoes in plain site as a reminder.  Exercise should be planned into the day, like brushing teeth, even if broken down into ten or fifteen minute intervals.
  17. Get yourself a body composition analysis. A healthy muscle to fat ratio is much more important than being a skinny-fat size 2.  Also, muscle burns more calories than fat.

The idea is to regain control, identify personal pitfalls, and ultimately, to learn to eat mindfully.  You can do it!

Article by Guest Blogger Cyndi Rook.