Top 10 Steps to Changing Your Eating Behavior
Do you alternate between
following a meal plan and losing weight (being “good”) and falling off the
plan and regaining weight (being “bad”)? It’s a frustrating but common
cycle. Nutrition experts Ellie Zografakis, RD, and Dale Huff, RD, CSCS,
co-owners of NutriFormance Personal Training and Sports Nutrition in St.
Louis believe that behavior modification strategies--rather than
diets--can help you break this self-defeating cycle and make lasting
the aid of qualified professionals (e.g., a registered dietitian, a
physician, a personal trainer and/or a psychologist) will make it easier
to interrupt old behavior patterns. You can also begin to practice the
following lifestyle change principles developed by Zografakis and
Dieting. How can you lose weight if you don’t
diet? Creating a deficit of about 500 calories a day for one week should
result in a 1-pound weight loss. Most people can incur a large part of
this 500-calorie-a-day deficit by exercising and making moderate changes
in food intake. In choosing this approach you avoid the negative
consequences of rigid dieting.
Physically, Not Externally, Connected to Eating. Internal hunger cues--such as a rumbling stomach, a slight
headache, fatigue, irritability and decreased concentration--are meant to
remind you to meet your energy requirements and maintain your natural set
point weight. Reconnecting with your physical signals of hunger and
satiety can help you acquire the internal power to regulate your food
Use the Rating
of Perceived Hunger (RPH) Scale. Using this
scale can make you more aware of your internal hunger and satiety cues.
Think of 0 as indicating extreme hunger and 10 as signaling extreme
fullness. With the scale in mind, begin to read your body’s signals. Your
target range should be between 3 and 8. If you go to 0, you may eat too
much too fast, particularly since it takes your brain 15 to 20 minutes to
sense that your body is full. You should begin to eat at 3 on the RPH
scale and stop at 7 or 8, when you’re comfortably full and satisfied.
Between Emotional and Physical Hunger. Physical
hunger is a physiological process that occurs every three to four hours.
When you don’t listen to hunger cues, your hunger subsides and your body
begins to slow down to conserve energy. Emotional hunger involves eating
when you’re sad, happy, anxious or bored. Understanding when you are
trying to satisfy emotional needs with food can help you find more
appropriate ways to meet those needs.
Food. There are no good or bad foods--all foods
are okay when eaten in moderation. Forbidding certain foods may simply
make you want them all the more. If portion control is a problem with
particular foods, try specific strategies with these items--for example,
measure out one serving of potato chips and put the bag back in the
Do Not Skip
Meals. Eating frequently throughout the day (3
small meals and 2-3 snacks) will stimulate your metabolism. Skipping meals
(including breakfast) can decrease your metabolism.
Do Not Create Them. A safe weight loss is 1 or 2 pounds a week, not 20. Be wary
of supplements and meal replacement products. Product testimonials may or
may not be true; spokespersons may or may not have any credentials.
Remember, a healthy body comes from healthy eating.
Not Critical. People lose weight at different
rates. Weight may drop off quickly at first and then plateau, or vice
versa. The important thing is that long-term healthy behavior gets
results. Reassure yourself that you are working hard and remember that
hard work pays off.
Language. Do you find yourself thinking “I will
never lose weight” or “I feel fat”? Watch for thoughts that are negative
or irrational, rather than supportive of your goals. See if you can
accurately describe your mood. Are you angry, sad, afraid?
Understand that “fat” is not a
Reward System. You are probably used to
rewarding yourself and being rewarded by others for losing pounds, rather
than for altering your behavior. Create a system of rewards for the
positive changes you make, rather than the numbers you see on the
Dated 14 July 2012