One of the dangers of dieting is the 'diet mentality'. The constant need to weigh, measure, count and account for food that most dieters feel can become an obsession with food that comes close to that experienced by someone with an eating disorder. Is it possible to lose weight without becoming obsessed with food?
Dr. David Katz, author of "The Way to Eat", suggests a better way.
While it's important to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn, he says, it's not necessary to obsess about food by counting every calorie. Instead, he suggests, focus on eating well for your health and permanent weight loss will follow.
Dr. Katz's suggestions include replacing highly processed foods which contain added sugar, fat, starch and salt with more wholesome foods with short ingredient lists. Avoid foods with added 'flavor enhancers' like monosodium glutamate and high fructose corn syrup which tend to stimulate the appetite and make you want to eat even more.
Instead, focus on healthier alternatives within food groups. That's far easier to do than you'd think. A simple change in your diet like replacing the light cream in your coffee with low-fat milk can save you 50 calories per cup. If you drink a lot of coffee, that could add up to a substantial lowering in your overall daily calorie intake - with the added bonus of giving you all the calcium and vitamin D you usually get with less than half the fat.
But, you say, you just can't drink your coffee with skim milk? That's fine, too. We all have little luxuries that we think we can't live without. Take a few minutes to analyze your diet and figure out which things you just can't give up - then make adjustments in other areas to account for them. Can't live without cream in your coffee? Skip the muffin you usually have with it, or replace the butter you use on it with a low-fat margarine substitute. Eating healthy is about choices - not obsession.
Here are some other suggestions to help you stop obsessing about calories and start eating healthier:
1. Toss out sugared breakfast cereals in favor of a whole-grain cereal that has little or no added sugar and drop a few berries into your bowl
2. Switch to an all natural, no additive peanut butter instead of a highly processed one that contains added sugar and oils for stabilization.
3. Keep a baggie of dried fruit in your desk drawer for a
high-potassium pick-me-up at mid-morning. You'll be far less inclined to overeat at lunch - and you won't find yourself yawning at 11 A.M.
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