MATZO BALL SOUP, GUACAMOLE AND chips--these are the foods I eat when I'm in the mood to celebrate. I drown my sorrows with Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. And when I've taken too many trips to the freezer and too few to the gym, I punish myself by withholding the foods I love. Like a lot of women I know, my relationship with food is complicated: I look to it more for joy, solace, companionship (even repentance J) than for nourishment.
But I'm learning that it doesn't have to be that way.
You don't need to starve yourself--or beat yourself up for not starving yourself--to lose weight. You can follow the Natural Health Love Yourself Diet instead and discover how to nurture yourself and create a healthier, happier relationship with food--and your body.
Learn to eat mindfully
To kick the habit of overeating, turn your attention toward food rather than away from it. When you sit down to eat, relish each morsel. Notice the color, shape, texture, and aroma, as well as the taste. If you're eating with friends or family, talk about how the meal was made and where it comes from. Even when indulging in a fast-food meal, take it home and enjoy it properly: Put it on a plate and eat with cutlery by candlelight]
HOW IT HELPS: Mindfulness, which can include deep breathing and meditation, helps you become more aware of the reasons you're eating, says Jeffrey Greeson, Ph.D., a health psychologist at Duke Integrative Medicine. "Often we eat not because we're hungry but because we're stressed, frustrated, or bored." Mindfulness lets you catch impulses as they crop up and teaches you to sit with difficult feelings and respond to them in a healthy way instead of using food as a buffer. It can also make eating more satisfying, which may help you eat less.
GET STARTED: Start today with a shopping trip to your favorite market. Choose foods that delight your senses--juicy fruits, colorful vegetables, and high-quality chocolate. Once back in your kitchen, take the time to prepare a meal that looks and tastes appealing.
Savor low-density foods
Forget the idea that to lose weight you have to feel hungry all the time. Instead of depriving yourself, satisfy yourself with low-energy-density foods like fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, and broth-based soups; they're filling without being high in calories or fat.
HOW IT HELPS: In a one-year study of 97 obese women (conducted by Barbara Rolls, a nutrition researcher at Pennsylvania State University and creator of the Volumetrics Eating Plan), those who filled their plates with low-density foods are more but still lost 3.3 pounds more than those who are less and restricted fat. In separate studies, Rolls and colleagues found that women who are a large green salad or a bowl of broth-based soup before a meal consumed fewer calories than those who went straight to the main course.
GET STARTED; Create meals around legumes, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, and when shopping for packaged foods, learn to check the labels. A food has a low-energy density if the number of calories is lower than its weight in grams. (For example, one half cup of black beans weighs 130 grams but contains only 100 calories, so it's considered a low-density food.)
Embrace complex carbs
Simple carbs like white flour, refined sugar, and white rice spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry soon after you eat. For a more satisfying meal, choose complex carbs like brown rice, beans, non-starchy veggies (leafy greens, peppers, and cucumbers), whole-grain pastas and breads, and most fruits; they're all low on the glycemic index, meaning the sugars are absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream, keeping blood sugar steady.
HOW IT HELPS: Researchers at Harvard University found that obese patients who lost weight by eating foods low on the glycemic index reported less hunger and kept off the weight longer than those who lost weight on a typical low-fat diet.
GET STARTED; To find foods that are low on the glycemic index (scores of 55 or less), go to glycemicindex.com.
Discover the joy of movement
Staying active doesn't have to mean marching on a treadmill or running around a track. Find something you enjoy and incorporate it into your life. "You may get more out of yoga, gardening, or movement therapy (a technique that uses dance or movement to help people explore feelings)," says John Bagnulo, Ph.D., who teaches nutrition and fitness courses at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, in Stockbridge, Mass.
HOW IT HELPS; Moving your body boosts your energy, your immune system, and your mood. And if it doesn't feel like an obligation, you'll do it more often.
GET STARTED: Make a list of the physical activities you love and find a way to fit them in. If you like to dance, sign up for a weekly tango, Bollywood, or hip-hop class. If you loved cycling as a child, bike to work a few days a week, or run errands by bike. If you like to clean or do yard work, consider that part of your exercise plan.
Make time for sleep
A good night's sleep (at least seven hours) helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels (reducing your risk of diabetes), protects your heart by lowering "bad" cholesterol, reduces inflammation throughout your body, and protects your memory function. Now scientists know that it may also help you lose weight.
HOW IT HELPS: Researchers have found that lack of sleep disturbs appetite-related hormones, spiking appetite, and decreasing feelings of satiety. When you're sleepy, you may also be more likely to overindulge in sugary, high-calorie foods, researchers say. In a study of more than 9,000 people, scientists found that those who averaged six hours of sleep per night were 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who logged seven to nine hours a night. People who averaged five hours of sleep per night were 73 percent more likely to be overweight.
GET STARTED: Adopt good sleep habits: Turn off the TV and computer an hour before bed, keep your bedroom as dark as possible, block out noise with earplugs, and do some deep breathing to calm your nervous system before retiring.
Don't beat yourself up if you overeat
We all occasionally overeat. Instead of berating yourself (which often leads to more overeating), strive to stay positive and compassionate in your thoughts and actions.
HOW IT HELPS: Forgiving yourself--and reinforcing positive, nurturing choices--is the best way to change your eating habits in a lasting way, says Aruni Nan Futuronsky, program advisor for the Integrative Weight Loss Program at the Kripalu Center. "Many women who struggle with weight issues tend to give away their energy and time, and are unable to meet their own needs," she says. "You have to dare to put yourself first." The more often you do this, the less likely you are to overeat or make unhealthy food choices.
GET STARTED: Whenever you notice self-punishing thoughts related to food, try nurturing yourself by taking a walk, going to a movie, writing in a journal, or calling a friend.
Remember, too, that you can practice caring for yourself at any time. If you're in the middle of a bag of chips and you notice critical self-talk, take a moment to relax and breathe, then decide whether you'd like to finish eating the chips (and enjoy them) or not.
THE LOVE YOURSELF DIET:
A SAMPLE DAY
Try our one-day food-lover's menu, taking the time to relax and enjoy every step--from shopping to preparing to eating.
Start the day with 20 to 30 minutes of yoga, qigong, or meditation to still your mind and energize your body.
* Breakfast: Enjoy a high-protein, low-glycemic breakfast, such as a hard-boiled egg, a piece of whole wheat toast, some strawberries, and a mug of tea or coffee.
* Lunch: Sit down to a cup of bean soup and a large, colorful salad with lots of veggies (greens, cucumbers, red peppers, carrots, and jicama), and a teaspoon of your favorite dressing.
* Snack: When hunger strikes between meals, satisfy it with a banana and peanut butter or sliced raw peppers with a smear of hummus.
* Exercise: Take a walk or ride your bike in your favorite neighborhood for 20 to 30 minutes.
* Dinner: Start with a cup of broth. Then eat four to five ounces offish with three or four steamed asparagus spears and a sweet potato. Finish off with a selection of mixed berries or your choice of another seasonal fruit.
* Before bed: Take time to reflect on your day. Write in a journal, meditate, do some stretches, or take a hot bath.
* Bedtime: Go to bed early enough that you'll be able to get plenty of sleep; seven to nine hours a night is considered optimal.
* LEARN MORE: To win a copy of Eating the Moment:
141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time, see naturalhealthmag.com/eatthemoment.
Source Citation:Kanigel, Rachele. "Love yourself diet: give yourself exactly what you need--and losing weight will be just one benefit of our." Natural Health 39.7 (July-August 2009): 56(6). Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 10 Oct. 2009
Gale Document Number:A202627712
Disclaimer:This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.
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