Now that the New Year is upon us, New Year's resolutions to eat healthier may be top of mind, but how easy is it to keep your resolve after a few weeks? To keep from sliding back into old habits, Ryerson University experts offer these tips to help you keep on track:
Tips from Dr. Stephanie Cassin, Department of Psychology:
1. Remind yourself of your reasons for change
In order to maintain changes to your eating habits, the advantages of changing your eating habits should outweigh the advantages of staying the same. Make a list of top five reasons why you want to change your eating habits (e.g., improve your health, energy, weight, mood, confidence). Post this list in a visible spot (perhaps in the kitchen) and read it regularly to remind yourself of the reasons why you want to maintain these changes.
2. Reduce your vulnerability to overeating
Although you might feel tempted to go on a strict diet after the holidays, skipping meals and eating too little can actually increase your vulnerability to overeating because it leaves you feeling physically or psychologically deprived. It is important to eat meals and snacks at regularly scheduled times throughout the day, limit your consumption of alcohol (and any another other substances that increase impulsive eating), and practice good self-care habits (e.g., adequate sleep and exercise).
3. "The more the merrier" does not apply to junk food
Moderation is the key to maintaining lifestyle changes. Keeping your cupboards filled with junk food is not recommended, but neither is strict avoidance of "forbidden" foods. Instead of stocking up your kitchen with junk food and sneaking cookies out of the cupboard, buy healthier snacks at the supermarket and prepare them in advance so you have fresh fruits and veggies ready to eat. Try keeping pre-cut carrots, celery sticks or grape tomatoes in clear containers in the fridge so you can grab them first before reaching for something else that has more calories.
4. Find other pleasures in your life
If you want to give up bad eating habits for good, it is important to replace those habits with other enjoyable activities. Make a list of pleasurable activities, being sure to include some activities that are incompatible with overeating (e.g., taking a hot shower, giving yourself a manicure). Incorporate these activities into your daily routine, particularly when the urge to overeat is high. When that mid-afternoon craving for chocolate or chips strikes, grab an apple instead and go for a quick walk to take your mind off the urge for an unhealthy treat.
Tips from Dr. Nick Bellissimo, Department of Nutrition:
1. Slow and steady wins the race
Many of us tend to pack on a little weight during the holidays from overindulging in calorie-rich foods and treats. As a result, you may tempted to try to shed those unwanted pounds quickly through extreme dieting or taking up an exercise regimen that is not sustainable. While this approach may get you short-term results, the benefits are short-lived. Instead, take baby steps by incorporating small dietary and exercise changes into your routine.
2. Never eat while watching T.V.
Watching television actually encourages overeating by overriding the body's internal calorie sensors. Even if you are following a healthy diet, mindless eating can increase your caloric intake by about 15 per cent. Avoid snacking or eating meals in front of the television if you want to eliminate those excess calories. Leave the television off and have a conversation at the table with family or friends instead. This will also slow down the pace of your meal, allowing your body the time to digest your food and feel satiated.
3. Embrace water, fibre and protein
Face it: there isn't a magic bullet for appetite control. But simply drinking more water and making fibre and protein a staple in your health regime will help you feel full longer. Fibre-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables and water are potent appetite suppressants. Incorporating protein into your meals will also make you full longer by slowing down the rate at which food moves through the digestive system.
4. Eat only when you are hungry
People tend to munch on foods when they are not hungry, or ignore cues when their stomach starts to growl. Both actions can lead to overeating and offset your resolution to eat healthier. You also might be actually thirsty, not hungry. If you are in between meals and feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water and wait 10 to 15 minutes to see if you need to eat something. If your hunger pangs persist, snack on a food that keeps you full to control your appetite, such as an apple, carrots, trail mix, yoghurt or almonds. You should also make a habit of reading food labels to help you make informed choices on healthier snacks.
Source: Ryerson University