Advanced Search
Current and Breaking News for Professionals, Consumers and Media

Click here to learn how to advertise on this site and for ad rates.

Food/Nutrition Columnist Author: Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

When to Eat - Kick Start Healthy Habits

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist -
Jan 20, 2014 - 12:05:23 AM

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Ezine
For Email Marketing you can trust

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

( - The New Year is in full swing and spring is still a long way off. Many refer to this time of year as the winter doldrums. It might be a perfect time to kick start some healthy eating habits. According to Webster's Dictionary, a habit is a thing done so often if becomes easy. You give little thought to brushing your teeth every day. It is a healthy habit. Thin eating habits are behaviors that slim people use, instinctively, to keep their weight in check. They put your appetite and eating style into slow motion so that you overeat less and get more satisfaction from food. Behaviors become habits with repeated practice. Try practicing these thin eating behaviors until they become habits you no longer have to think about.

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.

Eat breakfast

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.

Look for:

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:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


For advertising and promotion on, call Mike McCurdy: 877-634-9180 or [email protected] We have over 7,000 journalists as subscribers.


Top of Page

Food/Nutrition Columnist
Latest Headlines

+ Deck the Halls with Red and Green Healthy Foods
+ Holiday Food – Shop Safe, Cook Safe, Be Safe
+ Holiday Weight Gain – Myth or Reality
+ Alcohol and the Holidays – Consider This
+ Sweet Potato Or Yam?
+ Thanksgiving Dinner – Please Just Let Me Enjoy It!
+ What Makes You Eat?
+ Wheat – What You Really Need To Know
+ Some Thoughts About Kids And Food
+ Are Family Meals Today’s Dinosaurs On the Verge of Extinction

Contact Us | Job Listings | Help | Site Map | About Us
Advertising Information | HND Press Release | Submit Information | Disclaimer

Site hosted by Sanchez Productions