Your Eating Style And Your Health
Your Eating Style and Your Health
Eating styles contribute to weight and health problems more than most people realize, which is why standardized weight-loss plans often fail. Here are the styles that encompass most people:
- Erratic Eaters
- Emotional Eaters
Eating styles have to do with when, where, and how you eat – and often eating style can really get in the way of your health goals. We’ve compiled some fix-it tips for each style; many of us might have traits from more than one style so be sure to check out all the tips to see what fits for you.
Snackers rarely sit down to a proper meal, and if they do, they usually pick at it! They eat a little bit of this and a little bit of that throughout the day as they are on the move. Because intake is a little at a time, often these people perceive they aren’t eating much at all.
The big problem with this kind of eating is the small snacks begin to add up and can often be “empty calories.” Many snacks don’t have sufficient protein to keep hunger at bay, so high-carb snackers are always foraging for something more to eat.
The Snacker Fix-It Plan
- Structure Your Meals.
Eat three meals a day (including breakfast) with enough protein and fiber to give you the feeling of fullness to carry you to the next meal. This will prevent you from mindless snacking and prevent you from thinking you never get a proper meal.
- Measure Your Intake
If you need to keep the snacks to start, bag your snacks in 100 to 200 calorie increments. Eat everything in the bag at one time and then stop eating. Make a commitment to eat only snacks that have been bagged and accounted for.
- Focus on Your Food
Sit down when you eat and avoid distraction. This will prevent mindless eating when you can eat hundreds of extra calories without realizing. Focus on one activity at a time. You will enjoy the food more, and eat less when you pay attention to what you are eating.
- Keep a Food Journal
Write down what you eat; you’ll start to see how it all adds up. For many snackers, the awareness of how many calories they consume through mindless snacking is enough to prompt them to make changes.
- Re-work Your Kitchen
Don’t keep your snacks in view – or ditch them altogether. Better yet, don’t purchase comfort food snacks as they test your compulsivity. Keep your visible food portioned out so you don’t just open the fridge or cabinet and forage out of a box. When you mindlessly eat, you can take in a lot of extra calories.
Erratic eaters seesaw between eating too much and too little. They often skip meals because they are too busy to take the time to eat or are saving up, thinking they’ll make up for their calories in another meal. They often say things like: “I usually don’t eat breakfast or lunch,” or “I am going to a party tonight, so I won’t eat all day,” or “I can’t eat breakfast or lunch because I ate too much last night.”
The negative aspect of this is it promotes overeating. Not eating for long periods of time messes with blood sugar levels that can fatigue you both mentally and physically. Tired and hungry people do not make wise food choices.
The Erratic Eater Fix-It Plan
- Don’t Go Hungry
If you wait to eat until you are ravenous, you can make poor food choices; you may eat so fast you won’t recognize when you are full. Understanding the feeling of “fullness” is key to not overeating. Log your feelings when you eat along with what you ate to see if patterns emerge.
- Eat Before Going Out
Don’t leave home in a ravenous state; instead have a healthy meal before you go out. This could save you from eating hundreds of extra calories by needing to appease a strong hunger where you may not have full control over your food choices.
Emotional eaters are shaped by attitudes they have towards food. Many factors can contribute to emotional eating such as:
- Eating when stressed out
- Seeking food for comfort or reward
- Feeling the needplease others
The problem with this style is the emotional eater may not recognize if they are really hungry. They may have never learned to pay attention a feeling of fullness as a signal to stop eating. The inability to recognize fullness or not stopping when they are leads to larger portions and often poor nutritional choices.
The Emotional Eater Fix-It Plan
- Recognize Your Feelings
Get into the habit of asking yourself how you feel, before, during and after you eat. Recognizing the messages your brain sends you about fullness are every bit as important as what you eat. With careful logging you will start to see the connections between portion sizes, calories, and weight gain. Embrace the fact eating large portions is a learned habit and it can be unlearned.
- Decrease Portion Sizes
Decrease the portion sizes of your meals and snacks. Do this gradually to avoid the mental and physical cues of feeling hungry until you adjust to smaller portions. Try using smaller plates as a tool to measure portions and ask for doggie bags when eating out.
- Stop and Think
Determine if you are really hungry. Or, if you still feel a little bit hungry after eating, stop and wait a few minutes; this will help reset your eating cues. It is better to be a little hungry than to be too full. If you truly are still hungry, you can always eat a little bit of something sensible.
Have you had a misstep along the way? Then start again. Any time you think you have overeaten, just get back to your regular eating. You can cut back a little on fats, carbs or calories, but don’t fast or skip whole meals. For example, if you are on a 1500 calorie plan, you can drop down to about 1200 for the next few days. Eat smaller meals, but eat something.