Start by performing triage on the six eating habits listed here. But don’t try to banish them all at once. “Target just one or two behaviours at first—ones that you can make the most difference by changing,” says Jennifer McDaniel, R.D., of St. Louis University.
The reason: Recent studies show that we have only so much willpower. That’s why trying to break several bad habits at once can be overwhelming. But if you follow the slow and steady approach, you ‘ll increase your odds of sculpting a thinner, fitter physique—and keeping it for life.
1. Skipping Meals or Snacks
Not eating can mess with your body’s ability to control your appetite. But it also destroys willpower, which is just as damaging. If you skip breakfast or a healthy snack, your brain doesn’t have the energy to say no to the inevitable chowfest. So skipping a feed helps turn us into gluttons at night. Your starving brain “just doesn’t have the fuel it needs to keep you on track, monitoring your diet.”
Break it: This one’s easy. Spread your calories out into three meals of about 500 calories each, and two snacks of 100 to 200 calories each, says Liz Applegate, Ph.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of California at Davis. Most men who are trying to lose weight still need at least 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day, says Applegate. More important, change your mindset, she says. Think I’m going to start a new routine, not I’m going to restrict myself. Restriction leads to overeating.
Use the non diet approach: You’re not denying yourself food, you’re just eating it more slowly. Savoring it. Allowing your body some time so you don’t keep eating when you’re full. In an experiment published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 17 healthy men ate 11/4 cups of ice cream. They either scoffed it in 5 minutes or took half an hour to savour it. According to study author Alexander Kokkinos, M.D., Ph.D., levels of fullness-causing hormones (called PYY and GLP-1), which signal the brain to stop eating, were higher among the 30-minute men. In real life, the scoffers wouldn’t feel as full and could be moving on to another course.
Break it: Your body is trying to tell you something, so give it a chance. Slow down and enjoy your food, says Dr. Kokkinos. Put away the newspaper and turn off the TV.