Reduce Your Risk: Changing Your Lifestyle
- Allow yourself to get hungry
At the beginning of any weight loss plan, you’re going to feel some significant hunger at times, or at least discomfort. There’s no way around it. The only way you can make significant weight loss progress is to eat fewer calories than you have been—no matter what you’ve been told. There is no special alchemy that allows people to eat high amounts of protein or any other food component and lose weight without downshifting their calorie intake.
- The body does adjust after a while, and the constant hunger dissipates. For some women it takes several days, for others a few weeks. But after that initial period, do allow yourself to work up a true hunger for meals and snacks. Eating in the absence of hunger is one of the biggest reasons behind weight gain. It also makes food so much less enjoyable. Think of how good foods taste when you’re really hungry.
- Keep a food log
Writing down every single thing you eat (including what you scarf down at the kitchen counter after dinner) helps keep your accountability for your food choices front and center. You can’t pretend you’re on track if you’re not.
Research has proven it works. In a California weight loss study, half the subjects were asked to write down everything they ate. By the end of the study, those who kept food diaries lost more weight. Mind you, they were not told what to eat, how much to eat, or how often. That was up to them. It was simply a matter of increasing their commitment to themselves by putting it all in black and white.
- Don't skip breakfast
A lot of overweight women follow a pattern of overeating at night, waking up full, then going hungry as the day wears on to make up for their dietary transgressions the night before. By the time evening rolls around again, they're starving, and the whole pattern repeats itself.
Every day, eat a 300- to 400-calorie breakfast: a serving of whole-grain cereal with a cup of skim milk and some fruit thrown in; an egg, a piece of whole wheat toast and an orange; a slice of whole wheat toast with an ounce of cheese plus a small fruit salad— all of these make nutritious starts to the day that will help end the cycle of hungry days and overfed nights.
- Eat only if you’re sitting down at a table
If you wolf down breakfast in the car or rush through a sandwich while working through lunch, you’re not paying attention to your food, which means you’re not getting any pleasure out of it—which means you might keep eating past the point of satiety to make up for the good feeling a meal is supposed to confer but that you didn’t get to have.