Each day you make well over 200 decisions about food, according to Brian Wansink, PH.D. in his book, Mindless Eating. Your weight is the sum total of your past food decisions.
According to Wansink, overeating can be greatly reduced simply by removing the cues in your environment that cause you to overeat. He goes on to explain the top 5 Diet Danger Zones and the solutions for each:
1. The Meal Stuffer: At mealtime you really stuff yourself. You clean everything off your plate, eat quickly and often go back for seconds. You consider yourself to have a “healthy appetite” and often feel uncomfortably full after eating.
- Use the Half-Plate Rule: fill half of your plate with vegetables and the other half with protein and starch.
- Use smaller plates and wait 20 minutes before deciding if you want seconds.
- Eat slower so your appetite can catch up with what you’ve already eaten.
- Don’t place serving dishes on the table. Pre-plate your food and then put the rest out of reach.
2. The Snack Grazer: You eat whatever food is within reach, and snack at least three times throughout the day. You can’t walk past a candy dish without dipping in. Your snacking is rarely done out of hunger.
- Chew gum throughout your day to avoid mindless munching.
- Keep tempting snack foods out of sight and out of mind.
- Never eat directly from a package. Portion out your snack into a dish.
- Don’t purchase tempting snack foods for future snacking. Keep a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on hand instead.
3. The Party Binger: Whenever you attend a social event where the main attraction is food, you eat without stopping. With all the distraction you quickly lose track of how much you’ve consumed and often stop only when it’s time to leave.
- Stay more than an arm’s length away from the buffet or snack bowls.
- Put only two food items on your plate during each trip to the table.
- Make yourself feel full by eating the big healthy stuff first, like broccoli and carrots.
- Remind yourself why you are at the party: first to socialize or to conduct business and secondarily to eat.
4. The Restaurant Indulger: You eat out at least three times a week and enjoy every minute of it. You love appetizers, large entrees and rich desserts. When you leave the table you are always stuffed.
- Ask your waiter to remove the bread basket from the table.
- Before you eat, ask your waiter to box half of your entrée to take home.
- Decide to either share an appetizer or a dessert, never have both.
- Skip the appetizer menu and instead start your meal with a side salad.
5. The Desktop (or Dashboard) Diner: You like to multi-task by eating at your desk or on the go. Your lightning-quick meals are grabbed on-the-go from fast food joints, vending machines and convenience stores. You don’t plan your meals ahead of time and end up eating whatever you can quickly find.
- Pack a healthy lunch and bring it with you.
- Stock your work area with healthy protein-filled snacks.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Turn off the computer or pull your car over while you eat.
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Remember, while nutrition is vitally important for weight loss, true results are achieved through a combination of both nutrition and challenging, progressive exercise.