Weight gain always sneaks up on you while you’re not looking. Over the holidays, for example, you do your best to avoid those rich desserts and you keep your snacking to a minimum. But then, wow – a week later you’ve gained 7 lbs for no apparent reason. The same can happen if you’re really busy and stressed out with work. Your attention wanders away from your diet, and suddenly you can’t button up your jeans.
Something most of us can do really well without any effort is to gain weight. And most of us end up puzzled as to why we gained that extra 7 pounds. The reason is usually fairly clear when you take a long hard look at your eating habits. Without realizing it you’ve probably adopted more than a few bad habits that are sabotaging your diet. So here are the top 5 bad habits linked to weight gain and how to break them:
1. Mindless eating
Have you ever sat in front of your computer or TV with a bag of munchies? You eat the first one and it tastes so-o good! But as you continue eating, your attention is focused on the TV or computer screen. You are eating automatically. Before you realize it, you have eaten almost the whole bag. You feel full, bloated and unhappy because you didn’t mean to eat so much.
The same situation can happen while you’re driving, socializing, or talking on the phone. It’s called mindless eating, which is the opposite of mindful eating – in other words, paying attention to what you eat and how much you eat. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid falling into the mindless eating trap:
Remember what you eat! A large study was recently conducted on this very topic. The results have determined that if you remember and are aware of what you have previously eaten, you will actually eat less! In other words, paying more attention to what you are eating can result in lower food consumption.
Eat without distractions! Studies have found that with distractions you will not only eat more at the immediate meal, but you will continue to eat more than you should later on in the day! Distractions include such things as watching television, listening to music, or reading while you eat. Eating should always be the focus, never the peripheral activity.
Write down what you have eaten and keep your used food wrappers. Try keeping an ongoing list of what you ate, what time you ate it, and even the number of calories eaten. Then you may for example, be able to see that you may be eating more weight contributing food than you thought therefore start to consciously control what you eat, when and how often you eat.
Mindful eating means paying full attention to the experience of eating. As you eat, keep your eyes on your food, and be aware of the smell, flavor, texture, color and temperature.
Top 5 Bad Habits Linked To Weight Gain And How To Break Them
2. Mindless drinking
We’re not just talking alcoholic drinks here, but also soft drinks and hot drinks too. You may not be aware of the calorie content of the drinks you consume on a daily basis. If you’re a coffee drinker, are you drinking it with milk, cream or sugar? If so, you’re adding loads more calories. And if you like to sip away on an innocent-looking glass of juice, soda pop or iced tea, you may be shocked to discover how much sugar it contains.
Alcohol not only adds calories, but it has been shown to contribute to weight gain by slowing down your metabolism. Your body can’t store alcohol, so it becomes a priority and metabolizes immediately, meaning that other fats and sugars aren’t metabolized as efficiently.
Drink lots of water, which your body needs to stay hydrated. Drink a glass before every meal to help fill you up and you’ll eat less. Add citrus fruit, herbs, or cucumber to flavor your water if you don’t like it plain.
Green tea has a great reputation as a weight-loss aid. Although any kind of tea is helpful, especially if you drink it plain.
Avoid fruit juices, but do go for vegetable juices, which are low in calories and good for you too.
3. Cleaning your plate
Were you taught as a child to finish everything on your plate? This may have become one of your worst bad habits linked to weight gain. If you have children, you may even be in the habit of finishing off their leftovers too! Your intentions are good because you don’t want the food to go to waste, but it would be much better to store the leftovers in the fridge rather than on your hips!
Learn to be aware of how hungry you really are. This may take some time if you’re not used to it. Be aware of your body’s needs and decide how full your stomach feels regardless of what’s on your plate.
4. Portion distortion
Portions nowadays are huge compared to what they used to be, as are dinner plates. So if you’re loading up your plate at every meal, chances are you’re eating far more than you need.
Learn what a real portion size looks like, by using a scale or a measuring cup.
Eat from a smaller plate. This way you’re tricking yourself into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are.
Fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables or salad before adding anything else.
These tips will help you eat much smaller portions, and you will be surprised to discover that you feel satisfied eating smaller amounts, especially if you eat slower than usual.
Top 5 Bad Habits Linked To Weight Gain And How To Break Them
5. Avoiding Veggies
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If salads and vegetables don’t account for at least 30% of your daily intake, you’re probably filling up on the types of food which lead to weight gain. The fiber in veggies will help fill you up, and they are naturally low in calories. They will also help protect you against disease, including certain types of cancers, and reduce your risk of heart disease too.
If you’re not a veggie lover and never have been, here’s how to get started:
Begin to slowly add vegetables into your diet. You could start by having some just at lunch, for example
Aim to have them at the beginning of your meal to help fill you up
When eating out especially, be aware that salads can be a danger zone if they’re smothered in cheese, bacon, croutons or creamy salad dressings.
So don’t allow weight gain to sneak up on you again. Be more aware of what you’re eating and drinking every day, shake off those bad habits and keep track!