Your mind-set can make or break your healthy weight goals. We eat for many different reasons, for example, in response to emotions, the sight of food, social situations, boredom, habit and hunger. Here are some suggestions that could help you get your brain in gear.
- Make conscious choices
Always try to stop, think, and make a conscious choice before you eat. Really choosing whether you eat something, or not, not only keeps you focused but can stop you feeling deprived. Keeping a food diary can help you to make conscious choices, as you’re more aware of what you’re eating and when.
- Follow an eating plan
See the menu on Figure 5 as an example of a structured menu plan.
Decide on the times that you will have each meal, and when you will eat 2-3 wise, planned snacks, such as fruit, yogurt, handful of nuts, over the day. If you think you feel hungry, drink some water, and try to wait until the next planned time to eat, and distract yourself by doing something else. This is a good way to tell the difference between real hunger and other triggers for eating. You will often find that the urge to eat has passed.
- Choose satisfying foods
Foods that have a low energy density (foods that are lower in calories compared to other foods of the same weight) may help you to feel fuller for longer and, in turn, help you eat more mindfully and stay on track. These tend to be foods that give you protein and/or bulky fibre, for example, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, pulses, seafood and soup. Further, emerging research seems to suggest that full fat dairy products may be beneficial in weight management (30).
- Beware ‘all or nothing’ thinking
If you can’t fend off a craving or snack attack, you haven’t ‘failed’ or ‘ruined everything’. Instead, see it as a learning experience. Plan how you might deal with it differently next time, forgive yourself and move on. Don’t let lapses push you off course. Ups and downs like these are normal. Enlisting support from a friend, partner, healthcare professional, group or on-line community can help too.