Week 1 of my “Small Changes” no-diet approach to weight loss begins with helping you gain control over foods that are the most tempting and situations in which you most feel helpless to make good choices.
- Control your triggers. For some people, certain foods trigger overeating. Identify those foods and find ways to avoid them, or at least eat them with a mindfulness that a few hours afterward might be harder to maintain your willpower. In many clients (and myself), I see this manifest in a sugary/salty cycle – a candy bar leads to a bag of chips, back and forth, sometimes for hours or a day, other times for a week or more.
- Don’t keep certain foods in your home if you know your willpower will always lose the battle. It might be certain snack foods, desserts, sodas or other calorie dense beverages. Example: don’t keep ice cream in the house if you know you’ll eat it for every meal and snack until it’s gone. It’s ok to treat yourself to ice cream occasionally, but try getting a single serving cup of the really good stuff, and allow yourself to eat it slowly without distraction or guilt so you’ll be truly satisfied.
- Find a balance with your favorite foods, as those are the ones we most often overindulge in. Identify yours, and commit to allowing yourself to enjoy them in reasonable portions without guilt on occasion.
- Identify the meal or time of day in which you are most likely to make poor choices, and give it a makeover. For many of us, that means the mid-afternoon energy slump that has us at the vending machine or coffee-shop. Another one is skipping breakfast yet finding yourself grabbing a pastry from the break room a couple hours into your workday. Maybe it’s having a fast food lunch most days. Keep healthy snacks available (apples, bananas, oranges, small bags of nuts are all great choices and keep well in purses and desks), pack your own produce heavy lunch, commit to a balanced breakfast at home.
- Be mindful of your alcohol consumption. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink sometimes, but it’s helpful to be aware of how many calories you’re consuming, how often, and whether or not that nightly drink leads to anything else caloric (whether that’s a second or third drink, or opening the bag of chips you had hidden away).
- Plan for parties and social occasions. Eat a fiber and protein based small meal before attending a social event or catered meal where you know rich, high-calorie foods will be present, and attend with a mindset to enjoy the delicious foods in smaller quantities. The first bite is always the best! Suggestions would be a cut apple spread with nut-butter, a bean salad, or a small bowl of plain oatmeal topped with a dollop of plain yogurt.