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Weight Loss and Control (cont.)

Changing Your Habits and Staying Motivated

Changing your habits

  • Eat slowly and chew your food well. This helps you feel satisfied with less food.
  • The amount of food you eat is more important that the type of food. Think portion control. Familiarize yourself with official serving sizes, and measure and weigh foods accordingly.
  • Keep a record of when you eat, what you eat, and how much. This will help you spot situations in which you tend to overeat.
  • Avoid or limit comfort foods which are easily eaten foods (such as macaroni and cheese, ice cream, chocolate) that are used to modify your mood.
  • Don't give in to food cravings. These are typically foods with a high sugar content that cause your brain to release hormones that temporarily make you feel happy. These foods have addictive properties, so once you start eating them, it's difficult to stop.
  • Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. You will just be hungrier and more likely to overeat at the next meal.
  • Do not read or watch television while you eat.
  • Reduce your appetite by drinking one glass of water 30 minutes before each meal. If your stomach is not empty, food does not look as appetizing.
  • Drinking tea (especially green tea, white tea, and pu-erh tea) has also been suggested as a weight loss aid. Tea may contain caffeine, which acts as a stimulant. Tea also has no calories (assuming you don't add sugar or milk). Much like drinking water, drinking tea can make you feel full, thereby suppressing your appetite and reducing food cravings.
  • Stock your refrigerator with healthy, low-calorie foods. Snack on baby carrots instead of microwave popcorn. Don't keep high-fat snacks around the house.
  • Put a sign on the refrigerator that will help you think twice about snacking.
  • Reward yourself for specific achievements, such as exercising longer than you had planned or eating less of a tempting food. Of course, the reward should not be food.

Staying motivated

  • People often set unrealistic goals for themselves, only to feel guilt when they cannot stay on a diet or exercise program. Make changes in small steps. Look for small gains (that is, weight losses). Losing 1 pound a week is a reasonable goal.
  • Losing even 10% of your excess body weight can significantly lower your risk of obesity-related health problems. This is a good goal to start with.
  • Do not weigh yourself too often. Weigh yourself only once a week in the morning. An increase in weight of 1 pound or 2 may not be a true weight gain. It may be the result of water retention.
  • Group support programs such as Weight Watchers or TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) give you the support and encouragement of others with the same problem. They also promote healthy living practices.
  • For those who don't have the time to make it to support groups, there are now many free or low cost apps available for the iPhone, iPad, or Android which help determine and track calories, nutrition, and calorie expenditure. Try LoseIt!, Weight Watchers Mobile, Restaurant Nutrition, 40:30:30, Diet Point, or Noom Weight Loss Coach.
  • It is perfectly normal to go off your plan on occasion. Don't be too hard on yourself, and don't quit! Get back on track the next day.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/5/2012
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