Behavior Basics: Controlling Your Eating
A mindful approach to eating can make a huge difference in your weight-loss plan
ARE YOU REALLY EATING BECAUSE YOU'RE HUNGRY?
When you review what you've logged in your food planner and tracker, you may find that in certain places or situations it's hard to stick to the eating plan you’ve developed with your healthcare provider. Many people have situations, times, or activities that make them want to eat. These events become linked with eating so that just the event alone can make you feel hungry. Here are a few examples: you may read the paper every day at breakfast; you may watch television every evening and have a snack; you may always have a pastry at morning work meetings. If eating is linked with these events, the events can make you feel like eating. This can happen even if you are not really hungry.
Another reason certain activities may make it hard to stick to your eating plan is that the activity distracts you from eating. When you are distracted, you’ll probably enjoy your food less and may eat more.
SIMPLE WAYS TO BREAK BAD HABITS
If you try to retrain yourself to separate eating and these activities, you can gain more control of your eating. Here are 4 steps that can help you do this:
Do nothing else while eating. When you eat, whether it is dinner or your afternoon snack, focus on your meal. No TV, no reading, no Internet, no iPhone! Even if you are eating at your desk on a busy day, try and put your work aside so you can focus on your meal.
Follow an eating schedule you’ve developed with your healthcare provider. You may have uncovered time patterns from your food planner and tracker. If you eat many times each day and if you always feel like eating at those times, an eating schedule will help. Just as not everybody works from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day, breakfast at 7:00 AM, lunch at noon, and dinner at 6:00 PM doesn’t fit everyone’s schedule. The important thing is to consult with your healthcare provider and find a schedule that works for your life and your needs! To learn more about when to eat, read the Q and Me article about structuring meals.
Eat in one place. Select one place in your home where you will eat. Do all your eating there, but do nothing else. For many people, this place will be the kitchen or dining room table. Once you pick your eating spot, reserve it just for eating! Do not use the place to play chess, pay the bills, or plot a way to beat the stock market.
Try not to clean your plate. This one is hard. Many of us grew up with the “Clean Plate Club.” Nobody wants to waste food! But, think about what happens when you always clean your plate. When you eat everything on the plate, you are at the mercy of the person doing the serving. Even if you serve yourself, what you think you need at the beginning of the meal may be more than you want once you start eating. Try to leave some food on your plate each time you eat. Leave only small portions if you like (2 peas or one bite of mashed potatoes), but try to leave a small amount of everything.