When “experts” lecture us on weight loss, it’s usually all about exercise, calories, and carbs. While that’s good information, I’d like to offer some other tips that don’t usually make the diet books, from one compulsive eater to another. They will require some effort, but I have found them to be absolutely essential to proper self-care and weight loss.
- Sleep: It’s so easy to overeat when we’re tired. We reach for food in hopes it will give us more energy to keep us going. Unfortunately, the opposite happens. When we overeat we feel bad, heavy, and lethargic. And we’re still tired! Work on going to bed earlier. Late night nibbling is easier when it’s late and we should be in bed. Take care of yourself by retiring to bed with a book, and then turn the lights out before your tummy starts to growl. Even if it’s growling, go to bed, you won’t hear it when you’re asleep and it feels sooo good to wake up in the morning with a clear conscience!
- Vitamins: So many times our overeating is caused by nutritional deficiencies. We seek the vitamins and minerals our bodies crave in excess food. Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle because usually the food we overeat is devoid of any real nutrition, so it leaves us further depleted. As a first step, begin taking a good multivitamin, preferably one made from whole food. (If you go to a health food store, they’ll offer “whole food” supplements, which are actually made from high quality food, not just synthetic ones.) Next, strive to eat organic foods whose soil isn’t stripped of vital minerals like the soil of chemical-sprayed fruits and vegetables. Eating organic will make you feel better, and feel better about yourself because you’re making an effort to be good to your body. Lastly, stick with foods that have as little processing as possible. For example, cook a free-range turkey instead of eating cold cuts. The more whole and natural, the more nutritionally sound.
- Bring lunch: It’s easy to order take-out with your other bored co-workers but that only makes weight loss harder. Be deliberate about taking care of yourself. Think ahead and shop for foods that you can use to make a healthy salad for yourself. Buy some colorful Tupperware for your packed lunches. Put some care into making a fruit salad for yourself with various in-season fruits. You’ll be amazed how good about yourself you’ll feel and how good for you it is to bring your own lunch to work and avoid the greasy, starchy alternatives your coworkers are devouring.
- Don’t skip meals: Skipping meals is a trap! We always end up making up for the meals we skip…and then some! Make a point to eat three meals a day and don’t nibble in between. Would you skip feeding your children or your pets? Of course not! Then why do we think it’s okay to skip our own meals? If you make a point to feed yourself on a schedule of three meals a day, you will be more balanced emotionally and you will actually build self-esteem. Both of these things lead to a thinner body and a better quality of life.
- Stay Hydrated: Yes, I know you know that 8 glasses of water a day is good for weight loss and health in general. True health experts will actually recommend that you drink more than this. The fact is that when we’re dehydrated, we eat more. This is because it’s easy to disguise thirst for hunger. We eat, looking to hydrate ourselves, when drinking a few glasses of water would easily quiet those hunger pangs. So next time you’re sure that you need to eat more, try a tall glass of water and wait 10 minutes. That may be all you need. Here’s another tip: make it easy by bringing a bottle of water with you wherever you go.
- BYOF: That’s “Bring Your Own Food!” Don’t put your health in others’ hands. They don’t feel the pain when your jeans don’t fit! Taking care of yourself takes some planning. Is the party you’ll be attending only going to have greasy and starchy finger foods? (You can call ahead and ask the host what she/he’s serving – mention that you have some special dietary needs.) To be safe, bring a veggie platter with a healthy dip! That way you get what you need and you don’t feel left out. Don’t want to drink alcohol? Bring along a few bottles of seltzer. I do this often. It feels good to take care of nobody and myself minds. Don’t leave your health to chance. Remember the adage: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
- Don’t Eat Diet Food: How do diet food companies keep us shelling out dough for more diet food? They put chemicals and addictive ingredients in them that make us hooked! I’m talking about ingredients like MSG and many forms of addictive sugars like corn syrup and sucrose. Even NutraSweet has been proven to be a neurostimulant linked to stimulating appetite. Also, studies have shown that when people eat “diet” food, they feel like they can get away with eating more and end up overeating!
- Avoid Sugar: The average American now consumes approximately 115 lbs. of sugar per year. Sugar is extremely addictive and it offers very few health benefits. There’s no such thing as having only a little, in case you haven’t noticed. If you like things sweet, like I do, try a truly healthy substitute: Stevia. Stevia Extract comes from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant and has been used traditionally for hundreds of years. It’s sugar free, calorie free, and has no bitter aftertaste. It even comes in packets, just like Equal or Splenda (both of which have very unhealthy side effects.) You can get Stevia at any health food store. I buy it in liquid form with a dropper. Just a few drops in my herbal tea or yogurt and I’m happy!
- Go Raw: I could write pages on the benefits of eating raw foods (fresh green beans instead of cooked or canned; raw, uncooked almonds instead of Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds.) Besides the obvious nutritional benefits, another good reason to go raw is that your body has to work harder to process raw foods, thus burning more calories. In addition, raw foods have far more nutrients than cooked foods. Raw foods often take longer to eat so your body has time to feel sated, so try a spinach salad instead of creamed spinach with your meal.
- Don’t go too long without eating: This is self-care 101! You listen to your children (if you have them) when they’re hungry, so why not yourself? The fact is, when you wait too long to eat your next meal, you are causing your adrenal glands to panic because it makes them believe you are in starvation mode. Then when you do eat, they don’t get the message when you’ve had enough. They are still attempting to save your life by causing you to believe you need to eat more.
The biggest take away from all this is that you need to take care of yourself! The biggest irony ever is that compulsive eaters don’t really know how to feed themselves! If you take the time to listen to your body, practice self care, and think ahead about your needs, you will have a much easier time eating right and feeling good.
Need more help getting on track? Schedule your complimentary Breakthrough Session with Tricia Nelson by clicking HERE.