Have you ever heard this marvelous piece of advice before: “Eat only when you’re hungry. Mid morning or afternoon snacking is a big part of the problem – we often eat without even thinking about it…..” – I’ll bet you have heard it, and it sounds pretty logical, right? There is even some truth to it, if you find yourself regularly snacking on the typical goodies available – like chips, doughnuts, cookies or soft drinks, you pretty much can predict the result. But I’m here to tell you that the philosophy behind this advice is very lacking. These people are putting you on the wrong track.
Do you really want to lose weight? Are you tired of the yo-yo ups and downs and regular frustration that seems to dog you? Then why not try a different tactic. This one will get you back on track the way nature intended you to be. The advice is simple: eat when you are NOT hungry. Better still, never allow yourself to get hungry!
Hunger, not mindless snacking, is the root of the failure of most if not all diets. We try so hard to avoid hunger: by eating titanic servings, by all th0se thoughtless snacks, even by searching for healthy foods that sustain fullness for longer periods. (The latter is the smarter way of course). We certainly want to elliminate those fattening snacks, but the trick is to replace them, not to avoid them. You see, denial is a negative thing. Any diet that espouses denial of something you enjoy will fail in the long run. Period. Substitution is the key to your salvation. And furthermore, you will do better by actually eating something regularly than by trying to find foods that “stay with you”.
A big part of the physiological/emotional problem dieters encounter is the deliberate habit of gorging themselves on very spicy or very sweet treats to fill some deeply rooted phychological need. I won’t dwell on this phenomenon here, but I feel that by levelling out the hunger/fullness cycle you might even ameliorate the problem and lessen the tendency to “reach for some comfort” in the form of a full quart of ice cream, or a whole box of chocolates….. Makes some sense right?
So what we need to do is to take a minute, (and a pen and paper) and plan out some healthy snacks and “minimeals” to eat in between the 3 major ones. Dare yourself to take an apple in your hand and actually bite it. Healthy foods do not always “grab us” – we don’t have the impulsive desire to consume them, but if we drag them along and we actually take a bite, we enjoy it. Nearly every time. It’s actually surprizing. So keep plenty at hand.
If you had a healthy meal the night before its good advice to keep some leftovers and pack them to have for your “in between meal” at around 10:00 am. Have another ready to consume mid-afternoon. You should have something healthy prepared every morning – enough for at least two meals/snacks. If you try to rely on vending machines or fast food outlets you are doomed from the get go. You be eating trash again before you know it.
Your ultimate goal is to try to even out the size and calorie count of your 5 or 6 meals throughout the day, so make sure you have plenty on hand. Get off the “3 squares” kick. Nature intended grazing and foraging, not starving and stuffing.
There is so much more to be said about the types of foods that you consume and the impact they will have on your diet and general health plans. Its easy to find information on this and other websites. But I think that the fundamental strategy is to be in control, to always keep a steady even approach to your consumption habits, and by elliminating hunger you have gotten off to the best possible start. Give it a try!
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