Experts have been giving us the simple formula for weight loss for years: eat less, exercise more. It may seem easier to throw in extra workouts at the fitness center than to gain control of our eating habits, but recent studies have shown that what we eat has a greater impact on our weight than how active we are, in spite of the health benefits. If you’re stuck at a weight loss plateau even after increasing the intensity of your workouts, consider whether one of these six eating habits is the culprit.
Mindless eating is reflexive eating while our minds our occupied elsewhere, such as watching television, browsing the Internet, studying, etc. It sabotages us because we’re rarely hungry when we do it, the types of food we eat mindlessly are far from nutritious, and the only ‘stop’ signal we get is when the bowl or bag is empty. Take control of mindless eating by, first of all, limiting your access to snack food during these types of activities. Secondly, if you can’t resist the urge to snack while you’re mentally preoccupied, eat from a smaller bowl (and never from the container).
Unlike mindless eating, bored eating happens when our brains aren’t otherwise occupied. Eating becomes ‘something to do,’ whether or not we’re actually hungry. If you find yourself reaching for snacks between meals, ask yourself if you’re hungry or just bored. If you’re just bored, find something that keeps your mind from wandering to food – perhaps a brisk walk outside, a new book, or a conversation with a friend.
The stereotype of eating a tub of ice cream after a rough day or a painful breakup is all too true to life. Food can provide a source of comfort and release when life feels out of our control, but so can many other things that are much healthier for us – especially exercise, which uses up excess physical energy and releases those same ‘feel good’ hormones. Instead of turning to food when you feel keyed up or sad, take it to the fitness gym or apply your emotional energy to an artistic project you’ve been neglecting.
Sometimes we can’t avoid eating on the run, but it should be avoided for a few reasons. First of all, eating quickly can cause digestive issues that linger for hours later. Secondly, eating too fast doesn’t give our brains long enough to flip on the full switch. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for our stomachs to tell our brains we’ve had a meal, so scarfing food is a recipe for that over-stuffed feeling an hour later, not to mention the excess calorie consumption. No matter how little time you have to eat, make it a point to chew slowly and take drinks of water in between bites.
The previous types of eating lead to consuming too many calories. In comparison, skipping a meal might not seem as harmful. When you skip a meal (especially breakfast), you rob your body of the energy it needs, slow your metabolism, and set yourself up to eat even more the rest of the day. If you have trouble finding time for breakfast (or just don’t feel hungry that early), stock up on healthy, convenient options like individual yogurt cups, smoothies, and protein bars.
Abs are indeed made in the kitchen, and so is the rest of your body. Keep working out, but take control of what you put in your body by avoiding these six bad eating habits. Believe us, you’ll see the difference.