It’s the start of a new year as well as a new decade, which is the time of year when everyone seeks a clean slate. New Year’s resolutions are a lot like having a freshly cleaned house; we work so hard to attain perfection at the beginning, but then get side-lined by a lack of motivation. It happens; we’re only human. Also, goals can be a bit daunting, to say the very least.
Many times, folks who went overboard during the holidays seek resolutions that bind them to a restrictive diet or a punishing workout. Neither goal is realistic, which means that resolution makers are left disappointed and frustrated. It’s a sure-fire recipe for failure.
Rather than attempting to lose weight quickly, experts believe that it’s easier to set smaller, more realistic goals. Instead of starving oneself by limiting calories, it might be easier to concentrate on eliminating one poor dining habit and focusing on it over a four-week stretch of time. For example, if sugar is your weakness, rather than sitting down to an entire cake, take a slice and walk away from the cake. Put a piece in your mouth and savor the flavor. Really tasting your food brings your taste buds a tremendous amount of satisfaction, which in turn means that you require less of that chocolate cake to feel satisfied. Chew slowly, allow the cake and frosting to hit every square inch of your mouth and enjoy eating. Food is meant for fuel. It is not meant to be inhaled like a ShopVac inhales wood shavings. Allow yourself a single slice, even if you’re “hungry” for more. Continue this behavior over a four-week period, and you’ll notice that after a few bites, you should feel more satisfied. You might not even finish the entire slice of cake.
Many of us feel too “full” too late in our meals, which means we’re left feeling very uncomfortable. Poor habits such as rushing through a meal contribute to weight gain as well. Rather than eating as though dinnertime were a sprinting event, set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of chewing slowly, put your fork down and walk away for five minutes. Be sure to set a timer, because just glancing at the clock isn’t enough—you need to hear that buzzer to signal your brain to stop eating. After the timer goes off, go back to your plate and take a bite of food. You’ll start to feel fuller faster, because it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to catch up to your stomach. A little tip that successful dieters use is to eat their favorite foods first, which increases satiety. Putting your fork down between bites will also slow down the eating process.
A diet is a restriction of calories and favorite foods. According to healthier weight management plans, there are no restricted foods. While there are hundreds of studies about the pitfalls of eating too much sugar, having a cookie once in a while or a slice of pie is okay, as long as you follow simple tricks like slowing down to chew and fully tasting your food so your brain can catch up to your stomach.
I’ve been following a similar principle for about half the year. Although my weight loss has been minimal, I’ve noticed that I feel fuller faster. I’m able to enjoy what I’m eating, rather than just swallowing without chewing fully. I’ve started to drink more water, and I’ve tried to make healthier food choices. Can I eat an entire bag of “Popcorn, Indiana Kettle Corn” in one sitting? Absolutely. Will I? If I’m tired or I’ve waited too long to eat, I just might. Last week, I polished off an entire bag singlehandedly. I’m not too proud of it, but I’m willing to admit that sometimes I can have a “food relapse,” and that’s okay. Beating myself up for a mistake never helps and can lead to discouragement and frustration.
The beauty of a smaller resolution goal is that there’s a new day where we can start fresh. A new day offers us the option to “reset” and start fresh on our goals. We don’t have to be slaves to our food. Whether you’re cleaning out your attic, your garage or just a bedroom closet, food is the fuel which enables us to keep going. Choose foods wisely and be aware of what you’re putting into your mouth, and I guarantee that by mid-March, you’ll feel a lot better about getting yourself on the road to good health and better food choices.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.