Whether you're just starting on a new dietary plan or you have already lost weight, the behaviours outlined below can "make it or break it" when it comes to reaching and maintaining a weight-loss goal. The following list outlines the most common reasons your weight may creep back. By being aware and avoiding these food-related behaviours, you will be on a path to losing weight permanently.
Your diet might fail if…you skip breakfast
Are you skipping breakfast in an effort to cut calories? Unfortunately, those who skip breakfast tend to gain more weight in the long run. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology demonstrated the following facts:
• Skipping breakfast was linked with a greater chance of obesity. People who skipped breakfast were more than four times more likely to be obese than those who ate breakfast daily.
• Individuals who ate four or more times a day were 45 per cent less likely to be obese than those who ate three times a day or less.
Your diet might fail if…you eat too fast
One of the fastest ways to slow down your metabolism is to rush through your meals. Unfortunately, in today's go-go-go society, we tend to gobble up our meals in a mere five to seven minutes! Not only can this eating pattern wreak havoc on our digestive system, but it also promotes eating in excess and making faulty food choices. Next time you sit down for a meal, do not sit in front of the TV or computer. Use your utensils diligently and slowly, and make your meal last at least 20 minutes or longer. It takes the stomach a full 20 minutes to send a "satiated" signal to the brain. In other words, slowing down your eating will cause you to eat far less.
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Your diet might fail if…you are eating for emotional reasons
Immediately reaching for food to make yourself feel better can sabotage your weight-loss efforts faster than you can say ice cream. Just about everyone has sought solace in food. Whether we're frustrated, bored, tired, lonely, angry, stressed, or even happy – we eat to cope with our feelings or as a way of creating a temporary distraction. More often than not, emotional eating is followed by feelings of guilt, creating a vicious cycle that leads to more emotional eating and binging.
Instead of beating yourself up for emotional eating (which we all do!) identify the problem and implement change.
Identify whether you are eating because you are hungry or because of emotional reasons. Emotional eating is often triggered by a specific situation – such as problems at work, financial stress or a fight with your significant other – and it more often than not occurs later in the day. (Emotional eating rarely occurs at breakfast.) Remember, as the sun goes down, stress levels tend to elevate.
To stop yourself in your tracks try to imagine how you'll feel one hour after eating the food in question. Ask yourself, "How will this make me feel? Will it help with the emotions I am currently feeling?" As we all know too well, a food binge can occur in five to 10 minutes, but the feeling of being stuffed and bloated can last for one to two days!
Your diet may fail if …you count calories
Weight loss is not just a game of mathematics. Your food choices have a lot to do with how well you lose weight. For example, take a person who consumes a piece of white bread versus a person who consumes a piece of whole grain bread. While both breads may offer the same amount of calories, how they affect your hormones and their fat-burning potential are entirely different. Instead of counting calories, focus on eating nutrient-dense, calorie-light foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, essential fats and lean proteins. Your waistline will thank you for it.
Don't feel like you're stuck with your weight. Like so many others I have worked with, you can – and will – lose that weight. Once you do start to lose weight and feel like your best self, your new behaviours and approach to food will benefit your health for a lifetime!
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Dr. Joey Shulman's latest release, The Metabolism Boosting Diet (Collins Canada, 2012), is in stores now. She is also founder of the highly successful Shulman Weight Loss Clinics. For more information, please visit drjoey.com.