After the New Year
Fix your bad eating habits to start 2014 with a healthy bang
Late night dinners; skipped breakfasts; hand in the candy jar. Maybe you gave your healthful habits a vacation. That’s pretty typical behavior this time of the year, and now your diet is suffering from a holiday hangover.
But just as you’re packing up decorations and returning your home to its everyday look, it’s time for you to get back to a healthful lifestyle…before your lapses become ingrained. Your post-holiday strategy should include a kitchen makeover, structured meals and snacks, and an exercise routine, say dietitians.
Don’t depend on your willpower to help you avoid leftover treats.
“Willpower is overrated,” says Manuel Villacorta, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
That means removing temptation – giving away the two-pound box of chocolates you had around for company as well as the jar of cookies from your mother-in-law.
“If you really need a piece of chocolate, go to the store and buy a one-ounce bar, only enough for one indulgence,” says Villacorta, a San Francisco weight management expert (www.eatingfree.com).
Trade up to foods that require some effort, says Linda Somers, registered dietitian.
“I counsel people to keep as few readily edible foods in the house as possible,” says Somers, nutrition expert at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago.
“Foods that require some preparation are healthier than food you can grab and eat,” she says.
Shop for canned fish, very lean meat, chicken, fruits, vegetables and low-fat cheeses so you have the ingredients for healthful eating, says Villacorta.
However, it’s not just what you eat but when that will return you to a healthful path.
Say goodbye to breakfast at noon.
“If you skip breakfast you’ll mindlessly eat the rest of the day because you’re hungry,” says Villacorta.
He recommends protein, such as yogurt or egg whites and carbohydrates, including high-fiber tortillas, for the morning meal. Snacks, like meals, should be deliberate.
“Plan a snack before bed instead of randomly grabbing food,” says Somers.
If you and your family gather at the table—even for a bowl of chips—you’ll be less likely to overeat than if you’re alone and nibbling, she says.
Getting back to exercise is just as important as returning to sensible eating, say the nutrition experts. Find a routine of “normal lifestyle stuff you can stick with, “ says Villacorta, who recommends taking walks and using the stairs instead of the elevator.
Avoiding food temptations between Halloween through New Years, is as tough as foregoing the after-holiday store sales.
However, now you may be eating because it’s a habit and not because you’re hungry.
You need to distinguish between the two, say the dietitians.
“Start paying more attention to what you’re eating if you’re not hungry. If you’re not hungry and are mindlessly eating, it’s because you have triggers,” Villacorta says.
Triggers are cues that lead you to eat, regardless of appetite.
Perhaps you get the urge to “reward” yourself whenever you pass the corner cupcake bakery, or maybe you find that eating chips brings another layer of excitement to a televised football game.
Avoid the traps that lead to this kind of random eating, Villacorta says.
© CTW Features