Think yourself slim? It sounds really simple, doesn't it? If you just think about dropping those few extra pounds, then it will happen. However, while the theory behind this is simple, the practice is a little less so. Believe it or not, the battle of the bulge is not fought in your favourite take-away or pastry cafe, it is won or lost in your mind.
The key to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is being able to change your eating behaviour. You don't have to change your lifestyle drastically to drop a dress size.
As you may have gathered from previous features, I am not a fan of diets of any description, so if you are looking for some new gobbledegook 'scientific' quick-fix, then you are probably better off turning to the latest fad diet.
There are a lot of small changes you can make to the way you eat, and all of them combined may seem daunting, but if you take just one step at a time, soon you will notice your clothes feeling a bit looser and your stomach looking a little flatter. Before you know it, your appetite will reduce, and so will the amount of slouchy items in your wardrobe which you normally reserve for 'fat' days. So, if you are up for a few mental challenges and following some no- nonsense tips to weight loss, read on.
Like many people, I love my food, but love can be blind and lead us to do stupid things sometimes. Take the other day for example; I arranged to meet a friend for a late lunch. As lunch time ticked by, my stomach grumbled louder and the only thing that kept me from chewing the leg off my desk was a Milky Moo sweet which I found in the bottom of my bag.
By the time I met my friend, nearly an hour-and-a-half after my initial hunger pangs, I had already decided not only to get the biggest dish on the menu, but the greasiest, too. As a result of not eating a late-morning snack, I ordered a lunch I wouldn't normally eat, swallowed it quickly and needed to undo my proverbial top button because I was so full. This brings me nicely on to the first two behavioural changes to stop you making the same mistakes.
>do not skip meals and recognise when you are full
If you often leave the house in the mornings without breakfast, work through lunch, or get home late and don't bother with dinner, then you will find yourself making bad food choices. Stop putting yourself into situations where you are likely to binge. Develop a habit of eating three meals a day, with healthy snacks in between, and you will eat less high-calorie, nutritionally void foods.
Your hunger levels can also be kept in check by identifying them on a scale of one to 10. If zero is starving and 10 is full to the brim, you should be aiming to eat when you are at level three and stopping when you are at level eight, or when you are satisfied. If you eat when your hunger level is zero, you will inevitably eat too much and won't feel full. Why? Because it takes 15-20 minutes for your brain to recognise your stomach is full, by which time you will have polished off half a cow.
If your food habits are often dictated by your emotions, and there are few who this does not apply to, then stop and ask yourself some questions before you eat. Are you really hungry or are you eating because you feel sad, happy, bored or stressed? Identifying the difference between physical and emotional hunger is the third step to eliminating bad eating habits. A change in attitude towards food will also help you reach your target weight. Try not to place foods into 'good' and 'bad' categories -- everything in moderation is a much healthier view to have. This will stop you from eliminating certain foods from your diet or depriving yourself.
>WHEN DO YOU OVEREAT?
It is not only what you eat but when you eat that can cause unnecessary weight gain. Consider when you are most likely to overeat -- is it while having a nightly glass of wine, sitting in front of the TV, or after you have stocked up on goodies during the weekly shop?
Now try to change the association with overeating and replace it with something else, such as doing your nails while watching Desperate Housewives, phoning a friend for a chat while you drink your vino, or replacing the weekly shop goodies with a magazine instead.
Lastly, do not reward yourself with food. On days you have been 'good' -- perhaps you had a productive day at work or completed some project successfully -- reward yourself with a treat of the non-edible variety. Download one of your favourite songs from iTunes or buy a cheap and cheerful accessory.
Taking small steps can really lead to big changes, so what are you waiting for?