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August 9, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

4 Ways to Eat Less Without Stress

By Rachael Steil More Blogs by This Author

"Just eat two pieces of toast instead of five."

I had asked my mom the most embarrassing question. It took me days to think of how to say it, when to say it, if I really wanted to say it ... and finally it came out: "Mom, do you think I need to lose weight?"

Her answer was not intended to be a hint that I was fat, like I thought it was. It was also not a polite way to tell me I needed to drop twenty pounds, which I did soon afterward. As she explained years later, she simply thought that if I wanted to drop a pound or two, I could cut down my portions a little.

Being the perfectionist I am, this only triggered me to go all the way. I mean, all the way. I restricted my food intake severely, so much so that eventually I limited myself to nothing but fruits and vegetables. What could be healthier than that? I thought. And then mysteriously, I began bingeing.

Long story short, restricting food intake, or certain foods in general, is not the best way to lose weight. I would know; the twenty pounds I lost turned into forty that I gained back, and it was not a fun journey. In fact, the entire experience left me with a disorder that still haunts me today. My bad relationship with food manifest itself in the fear and anxiety I felt every time I sat down for a meal.

I'll spare you the distress (unless you've succumbed to it already yourself, which is unfortunately a common illness in our society) and show you a healthier route to take for weight loss. I've learned some healthy go-to tips over the years to help keep portions under control without feel deprived, and of course, without having to severely restrict. In fact, these strategies have helped me to feel fuller as well as fulfilled. I leave the table feeling content after focusing on my food in a loving, healthy manner. Yes, focus is the key here, rather than beating your body into submission.

Setting Aside Time for Health

Overeating is a problem in America that does not only stem from unhealthy food choices, but also our behaviors. Leading a busy life is our excuse that we simply "don't have enough time" to sit down and enjoy our food. Unfortunately, we seem to have enough time to binge on the cookies and chips when we finally come home from school or work. That's when we realize how hungry and stressed we really are.

While food is the focus here, it has a close friend - you. You cannot achieve ultimate health and a good relationship with food unless you treat the food and your body with patience and love. Food is not only about fuel, but also about nourishing our bodies and souls. We can only do that if we pay attention to it. By incorporating the following tips, you can develop a closer connection to your body.

1) Don't Multi-Task

"But I don't have enough time," you say. I know, I've used this excuse countless times, too. I figure I'm saving time when I do my homework and eat dinner all at once. But when I learned how setting aside time to focus on what I'm eating had major health benefits, I made the change.

If you don't have enough time to eat without distractions, then have enough time to spend at the doctor later on in life, because finding time to eat, and eat healthfully, is just as important as finding time to exercise. After all, what's better than making time to sit down with friends or family for each meal?

So, what are the health implications? If you're looking to lose weight, know this: Eating in front of the TV can increase consumption as much as 60%, depending on how you long you sit there watching. That can go for anything else you do while eating, really. Avoid eating in the car, at the computer, while reading, etc.

Also, the more you focus on your food, the more energy and nutrients your body can absorb from it. In fact, according to eating psychologist Marc David, your body can burn more calories just by focusing on your food and eating at your most relaxed state. This can also happen more when you...

2) Breathe

David advises taking ten deep breathes before your meal. It brings you back to what you're doing and helps transfer focus to you and your body. It also helps you to pay better attention to hunger and fullness cues.

3) Designated Eating Areas Only

Keep the food in the dining area only. When you eat where you are designated to eat, it conditions you to focus on food at that time and place with fewer distractions.

4) Darker Plates

Ever notice that most fast-food restaurants are painted with bright colors? Red, yellow, and orange are often used because these colors encourage overeating. Studies show that eating off of bright-colored plates may encourage overeating as well. Choose darker-colored plates, which contrast sharply against the food you are eating, to make it seem like you are eating more. Blue is the best color to choose, as it acts as an appetite suppressant.

You Are What You Think

Your relationship with food can play a big role in how your body metabolizes what you eat. On top of choosing the healthiest, most nutritious foods, it's time to feed your mind too. After the restriction and weight-loss diets I tried so hard to force my body to do, I am happy to find a balance with food at a psychological level. I can find love and nourishment with my food instead of living in anxiety and fear - as long as I take the time to slow down and respect my body enough to fuel it in the right atmosphere.


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1 Comment

  • Great advise - I do however sit in front of the TV for most of my supper meals because I like to watch the news. I find that if I fix a plate with the foods I want from the kitchen it helps my portion sizes, as opposed to having the extra food in front of you to easily grab seconds. If you have to get up to get more - you might think twice before doing so!

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