During a decade-long Finnish study, 5,000 young adults had their weight monitored. Interestingly, those who maintained their weight or lost some reported two important factors. First, they didn’t make a habit of skipping meals. Second, they didn’t diet.
In fact, the findings indicated that women tend to gain weight from childbirth, skipping meals, dieting and drinking sugar-filled soda. What the findings show is that it might be time to rethink strict dieting and start looking for a more balanced approach.
The no-diet approach
This involves keeping all of your trigger foods in the house and giving yourself permission to eat them when you want to. Over time, you’ll see that these foods no longer hold your interest and their power over you has waned. Your love of these particular foods will fade in due course.
So if ice cream is your kryptonite, keep it in the house. Refusing to have it in the house will make you crave it even more. Eat ice cream regularly. Once you have given yourself permission to eat it, you’ll experience a mindset shift. Now that ice cream is no longer taboo, it will become like any other food: something that you eat for sustenance.
Pay attention to how much you eat
For many people, it’s not the types of food they eat that make them gain weight. Rather, it’s how much of these foods they eat. The first lesson is to listen to your body and ask yourself if you’re eating because you’re still hungry or simply because the food is on your plate.
So serve your normal portion, but halfway through eating it, ask yourself if you need or want more. You’ll soon see the size of your portions get smaller. But don’t obsess and suddenly start serving yourself only half of your normal portion. That will leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied, which can lead to over-eating.
Employ a mindful approach to eating
A meal should stimulate all five senses. If you’re shoveling a meal down in a hurry or while doing other tasks, you do not gain any enjoyment from eating. You’ll be left feeling hungry.
Take time out of your day to eat your meals with no distractions and savor the food from beginning to end. Don’t rush through a meal. Chew slowly, take your time between mouthfuls and engage in conversation around the dinner table to maximize your enjoyment.
Eating a meal should take at least 20 minutes. You’ll feel full and satisfied despite having eaten less food than you would have otherwise.
Think about and identify things that trigger your bad eating habits. Be aware of them, and when you feel like you’re approaching a breaking point where you’re going to over-eat, take time to meditate or do something that helps you regain balance.