Eat when you're hungry
Sounds simple? Many people who weigh too much cannot define the sensation of hunger. They know when it's lunch time, so they eat. If they are lonely, they may eat. Some people eat when they are bored, frustrated or to relieve stress.
Slim people, on the other hand, actually feel hungry. It's been long enough since they last ate that their body is signaling them to refuel with more food. Some describe it as a gnawing in their stomach or a feeling of emptiness; sometimes the stomach rumbles or growls.
If you've lost touch with your sense of hunger, it is a feeling we want you to regain. Practice eating at regular times each day and try to set aside those external cues that call you to eat for other reasons. Every time you want to eat, ask yourself this simple question: Am I hungry? If the answer is: I want a break from my desk.; That TV food commercial was very enticing.; My husband and I just had a disagreement.; The kids are driving me nuts!; or The bagel shop smells delicious. You probably aren't hungry but are being driven to eat by some external cue. This exercise is not always guaranteed to stop you from eating but it will slow you down and make you think about why you are eating. And that is the whole idea behind thin habits. They put your appetite and eating behavior into slow motion so you'll overeat less.
Eat regular meals plus a snack or two
Eating frequently does not equal overeating. On the contrary, small frequent meals lead to more satisfaction than a few large ones. Plan snacks rather than spontaneously grabbing something between meals. Consider snacks as an extension of the last meal or a warm-up for the next. Instead of dessert after dinner, plan a snack in the evening while watching TV. Fresh fruit mid-morning could complement a small breakfast. A side-salad or a mug of soup, mid-afternoon, could be a pre-dinner satisfier.
Your body needs fuel in the morning to break the long night of fasting without food. Eating breakfast puts your body in gear so you burn calories faster than if you wait to eat until lunch. Studies have proven that breakfast eaters are leaner, have lower blood pressure and get a wider variety of nutrients daily than breakfast skippers. Research on cognition and dexterity give higher marks to those who eat an AM meal. But, many of us are breakfast skippers. If a morning meal is not your cup of tea, try being inventive -- a sandwich, cottage cheese and fruit, a container of yogurt, even pizza is OK. What you eat is not important. It is more important that you eat. Having breakfast is a thin habit.
Skip the midnight feeding
Sometimes a bedtime snack is a holdover from childhood. If you depend on this to feel sleepy, try switching to a cup of herbal tea. Late night refrigerator raids are often triggered by emotions. Examine your motives; are you really hungry?
Don't be too hard on yourself, it takes time and reinforcement to trade old eating habits for new ones. Practice, practice, practice.
Thin eating habits fall into three groups. In this column we've looked at when to eat. In the future will explore thin eating habits that show you how to eat and what to eat.
© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.
The Diabetes Counter, 5th Ed., 2014
The Fat and Cholesterol Counter, 2014
The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013
The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013
The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012
The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011
The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010
The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008
Your Complete Food Counter App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/your-complete-food-counter/id444558777?mt=8
For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to: www.TheNutritionExperts.com.
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