By Hillary Baron Irwin MS, RD. – Founder of Simply Beautiful Mom

The only way to succeed at losing weight and keeping it off is to incorporate permanent healthy lifestyle behaviors. Adopting life-long healthy behaviors is essential for meeting your weight loss goals. These healthy behaviors should start before you even sit down to eat.

Keep a food record. This can be one of the most important lifestyle behaviors to adopt when attempting to lose weight. Writing down what, when, how much and why you eat can help you evaluate potentially fattening behaviors (skipping breakfast, mindless snacking, bingeing at night, or overindulging when you are bored or stressed). The key is to record what you eat immediately after eating, before you forget. Becoming aware of your food habits is the first step to changing them so you can succeed at weight loss.

Do not grocery shop when hungry. Going to the grocery store when you are hungry is a disaster waiting to happen. Wait until after you have eaten a meal and even then ALWAYS bring a shopping list!

Know your Eating Triggers. Do you eat because you are sad, stressed or angry? Do you eat when you are at a party or hanging out with friends even if you are not hungry? Knowing what triggers you to eat will allow you to plan ahead and prepare for success. Take a few minutes to write out a list of your top food triggers such as walking by a bakery shop or feeling bored on a Friday night. Now make a list of activities you could use when tempted to eat or ways to control your environment to avoid these triggers. When you run into a trigger situation, consult your activity list. If you can distract yourself for even a few minutes, your urge to eat should diminish.

Do not skip meals. Skipping meals intentionally or unintentionally will leave you feeling over-hungry and more likely to overeat. In addition, skipping meals can cause your body to go into “starvation mode”, slowing down your metabolism – the rate at which the body burns calories. The bottom line…don’t skip meals, simply reduce portion sizes and continue to eat on a regular schedule.

Do not go more than 5 hours without eating. Going for long periods of time without eating usually results in extreme hunger – the number one stimulus for overeating. Going more than five hours without eating causes your metabolism to slow down and burn fewer calories, making it more difficult to lose weight. Think about spacing meals and snacks 3-4 hours apart to keep your metabolism on full drive and your hunger at bay.

Do not pick when preparing meals. Many people think the food they “pick at” while preparing a meal does not count. Nibbling on a piece of bread or cheese, “taste testing” the gravy or licking the spoon, if done often enough, can contribute enough calories to sabotage your weight loss regimen. The solution: brush your teeth (or pop a mint) before you start cooking…it won’t be as tempting to try a taste with minty fresh breath.

April 10, 2015 Living Fitness