Written by Susan Bowerman, Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife.
From the beginning of the year, I’ve been recommending making a few small changes in your dietary habits every month. The thinking behind this strategy is pretty simple. Often, when people are eager to lose some weight, they try to tackle too many big changes at a time – and they simply can’t do it.
Instead, I’ve been recommending a slower, gentler approach – one that calls for a few dietary tweaks every month. The reasoning is simple: over time, it's easier for small dietary changes to become a part of your everyday eating habits, which means they’re more likely to stick, and, when added together, the calories you save from a handful of small changes can make a big difference.
Over the past couple of months, I suggested some ways to save calories by decreasing your sugar intake, or your fat intake, or by controlling the size of your portions. Hopefully, you’ve found a few small diet changes that you've been able to incorporate into your daily life – and that they’re working for you. If you’re ready to tackle a few more, here are three more small changes you can think about working on this month.
Eating more slowly allows you more time to really enjoy your food – and your digestive tract will probably thank you, too. But for people who eat quickly, learning to slow down can be really difficult. When clients tell me that they usually finish their meals long before everyone else at the table, I ask them to work towards taking at least 15 minutes to finish a plate of food – which, to them, is an eternity. But as they keep working at it, they often find that longer, slower meals help them to control their intake.
Why it Works: There are several reasons why this strategy may help. When you eat slowly, you’re eating more 'mindfully' – that is, you pay more attention to your meal and all the pleasurable aspects of the food. When you eat mindfully, your meals are likely to feel more satisfying, which means you might be able to eat less and enjoy it more.
Also, when you eat quickly, it’s often a sign that you’ve allowed yourself to become overly hungry – and hungry people tend to dig into the highest calorie foods on their plates first.
If you take your time and focus on what you’re doing, you can start with the lowest calorie foods in your meal (your salad, a broth-based soup, or the veggies) and fill up on those first. Overall, you may end up eating less. Another thing is that slower eating allows you to drink water between bites – which coul also help to fill you up.
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