Are you fed up with struggling with overeating, starting another d-i-e-t that you know will probably blow up on you or wishing your pants were not so tight?
Here are five simple things you can implement today to control your cravings, eat less, and thrive more.
- Sleep. Don’t keep working harder and harder. Play it smart. Women who average five hours or less of sleep per night weigh more, gain weight more easily, and crave more carbohydrates and fattening foods—and it’s not in their heads! Sleep deprivation leads to chemical changes in your body that cause overeating and weight gain (even if you don’t overeat). Aim for at least seven and a half hours of sleep per night. Not only will you be less hungry, but your productivity, focus, and creativity will also probably improve. You may even find yourself accomplishing more than when you were burning the midnight oil. An additional bonus: you’re likely to feel a whole lot better.
- Pay attention to your feelings. Emotional eating—eating as a response to feelings—is a major cause of overeating and packing on the pounds. Stress eating, comfort eating, eating out of frustration and even eating out of boredom or happiness can all sabotage your weight loss plans. Develop strategies to check in with yourself and with how you are feeling so that you can respond to your emotions in ways that don’t involve food. Added bonus: when you address your feelings instead of feeding them, you will be taking charge of your life and responding to what you really need. When you do this, life gets better.
- Carve out time for you. Stress and overload can be a direct path to weight gain. If you’re feeling time-crunched, you’re likely to make the all-too-common mistake of cutting out the activities that are actually the best for you. Me-time helps you relax and unwind. It also gives you an opportunity to pay attention to yourself and what you need to function and flourish. When you meet your needs and care for yourself in quality ways, you are less likely to find yourself using food as a “special treat” or a “band-aid” to help you get through the day. Practice giving yourself a five or ten minute time out a few times a day. The bonus: these short breaks help you get perspective on your day. You’re likely to feel more organized and relaxed as a result.
- Feed yourself quality food at regular intervals. If you are trying to eat less, it can be tempting to cut back too far and allow yourself to get too hungry. Big mistake. While depriving yourself with strict diets may initially seem to create results on the scale, in the long run, eating too little leads to stronger cravings (usually for foods that will spike your blood sugar levels quickly), overeating, and binge eating. Do you find that your healthy eating plan always gets blown in the afternoon or evening? Try eating smaller, more frequent meals during the day and make sure that you are including some protein each time you eat. Bonus: when you feed yourself well, both your energy levels and your mood are likely to improve.
- Savor. You might be surprised to find how little of what you eat you actually allow yourself to savor and enjoy. Eating on the run and multitasking while you eat mean that your attention is divided between food and your hunger and whatever else you are doing. When you eat without giving it your full attention, you are likely to eat more and not feel as full. Impose a ban on multitasking when you eat. Take your time and practice eating mindfully—paying complete attention to your food—the taste, smell, even the texture. Notice how full or hungry you are and allow yourself to enjoy the act of eating. Bonus: savoring is a pleasant activity and it tends to be relaxing. Practicing enjoying your food in this way and getting in the habit of doing one thing at a time is a great strategy for reducing stress. If you apply the concept of not multitasking to other areas of your life, you’re also likely to see an improvement in the quality of your results.