Tuesday, March 8, 2011
5 Eating Styles That Can Lead to Weight Gain
The last dish has been washed, and as you sit back and watch Modern Family, what’s in your hand? A pint of Haagen-Dazs or a cup of tea? On weekends, do you watch your calories as carefully as you did Monday through Friday, or do you take a healthy eating vacation and go to town?
Certain ingrained habits—even seemingly minor ones—have a significant effect on your weight. The hard part, too, is that even when you make the decision to, say, eat more fruit or hit the gym one more time a week, past behaviors can sneak in and undermine your best efforts. Those patterns can be grouped into five basic eating types. Chances are, you’ll identify with one or more. Once you recognize your type (or types), you'll be able to develop strategies and solutions tailored specifically to your needs.
Type # 1: The Weekender You live "by the book" all week, only to throw it out the window on Friday night. Or maybe you travel a lot for work or pleasure, and as soon as your surroundings change, so do your eating and daily calorie-counting habits.
Go (mildly) wild on Wednesday. It's hard to resist going nuts on Saturday and ordering the mac ’n’ cheese when you've been buttoned up for 5 days straight, so consider working one splurge night into your week. If you inject a little food-related fun into the weekdays, you'll be less likely to "reward" yourself with major damage on the weekends.
Type # 2: The Calorie Drinker One of the biggest diet mistakes is thinking that if it's something you sip, the calories won't stick. Unfortunately, liquid calories are stealth fatteners—they go down quickly, making it easy to drink more and rack up the calories—fast.
Make smarter switches. Whether your weakness is sweet coffee drinks or soda, there's a way to alter your particular poison so it doesn't sabotage your progress. Skip the sweetener (and whipped cream) in coffee and drink seltzer instead of sugar-packed soda. You’ll save hundreds of calories and barely notice the change.
Type # 3: The Low-Hanging "Fruit" Grabber These days we're confronted with calories everywhere we go, from bagels in the conference room to king-size chocolate bars in the checkout aisle. In an environment with such an abundance of cheap, easy calories, temptation lurks around every corner and chips away at your willpower.
Track every single bite. It's always important to track your meals, but in this case, it's extra important that you take note of everything that slips between your lips. Until now, you probably haven't been "counting" all those free samples at the supermarket, but they can easily cost you 100 calories or more. Seeing how all those extra bites add up is motivation enough to make you say no to the free muffin sample.
Type # 4: The Stress Eater Do you find yourself looking for solace in a red velvet cupcake after a long, stressful day? Do you empty a bag of tortilla chips whenever your mother-in-law is in town? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then stress eating is a part of your life--and probably a major hindrance to your weight loss.
Fix It: Name that theme. Are there any common themes among your stress-related binges? Do they generally occur at work? Do they happen mostly in the evenings, when you’re dealing with family, bills, or housework? If you know that a certain situation or person tends to push you over the edge, prepare yourself for the stress that will inevitably come. Just being aware that a binge-inducing situation is on the horizon can help you brace for it and lower the chances that you'll give in.
Type # 5: The Judger Do you wonder why you're not losing weight when you seem to be doing everything right? You may be falling for healthy buzzwords on a package of high-calorie processed food. Even actual "healthy" foods--some of which offer many benefits--can be calorie bombs.
Don't buy into marketing gimmicks. Read every food nutrition label and decide for yourself whether or not something makes sense for your calorie budget. Also, stop personalizing your food choices. Try not to categorize them as "good" or "bad"--and definitely don't apply that black-and-white thinking to your character. Eating an apple does not make you a "good" person any more than eating a cookie makes you a "bad" person! If you're an ecoconscious eater, "good" and "bad" have other connotations for you. While your efforts to green our planet are applause-worthy, don't forget that words like organic, sustainable, and grass-fed do not necessarily mean "low in calories." Being good to the Earth doesn't automatically mean you're making good choices for your waistline.
Finally, beware of healthy calories. If eating larger portions of lower-calorie foods is your thing, that's fine, but some foods can throw you off your budget when you indulge with too much abandon. For example, almonds are often touted for their nutritional power--and they do pack lots of protein and a nice dose of vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. But if you eat just 1/2 cup of almonds (easy to do in one sitting), you're taking in 400 calories.