Starting the New Year off with a fresh, healthier eating routine? When the resolution fades, don’t succumb to that bag of chips! In The DASH Diet for Weight Loss, Thomas Moore, M.D. shares 10 ways to stick to your diet at home.
Tune out the tube: Television is one of the most powerful triggers for people, especially the commercials for fast food and other munchies. One of the most effective ways to prevent TV‑inspired snacking is to watch less TV. Most people watch too much TV anyway, so here’s just another reason to turn it off! If there is a TV program you just have to watch, mute the commercials since they tend to be filled with urgings to eat high-fat, high-sodium, and high-calorie foods.
Another challenge with watching TV is that it provides a huge opportunity for unconscious eating. You sit down with a bag of chips or cookies, and before you know it, you have eaten the whole bag. Cutting back on TV watching is a good way to break this cycle. Read a book or play a board game with your family members. Better yet, go for a walk or reserve TV watching for when you are exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike. You’ll be burning calories instead of consuming them!
Suck it up: Choose a beverage to satisfy your craving instead of something solid to eat. For many folks, anything that satisfies the urge to get something in their mouths works. Others swear by a warm beverage. A decaffeinated tea or low-calorie hot chocolate may fit the bill. Avoid alcohol, which is high in calories and can cause problems with sleep as well as blunt your commitment to avoid snacks!
Brush and floss: We’re all supposed to brush our teeth and floss at least twice each day. Right after eating a healthy meal, brush and floss your teeth very thoroughly. This is known to lessen cravings to eat.
Practice conscious eating: When you get the urge to snack, ask yourself, Am I really hungry or is there something else going on? This strategy is known as conscious eating.
Idle hands are a snacker’s playground: Avoid the kind of boredom or inactivity that can lead to urges to eat when you shouldn’t. Pick a task that keeps your hands busy and your mind off the munchies. It helps to make a list of things you enjoy doing at night and refer to that list when you feel a snack attack coming on.
Chew on it: Chewing gum can keep snack urges at bay. Choose a sugarless brand.
Don’t keep undesirables at home: If it’s not there, you can’t eat it! If you can’t resist temptation, get rid of tempting foods.
Sack out: You can’t eat while you’re sleeping. At night, go to bed instead of reaching for something to eat. Avoid caffeinated beverages late in the day.
Eat healthy snacks: If you are going to snack, snack on healthy items. Try to think of a healthy snack that is like the unhealthy snack you crave and keep the healthy variety on hand. Your healthy snack will come closer to satisfying your craving if it is similar in texture to your craved food. You often crave cold and creamy ice cream? A very cold nonfat yogurt has a similar mouthfeel and might do the trick. Or instead of potato chips, try a measured portion of rice cakes or popcorn. Whatever your usual craving, plan ahead and have a healthy option available. Learn how to “snack healthily.”
Don’t let yourself get too hungry at night: It’s important to eat enough during the day so you don’t lose control at night and go to town on high-calorie snacks.