These 5 Habits Are Contributing to Your Weight Gain
If you’re interested in nutrition, you’re likely already following some key basics for healthy eating such as: filling your plate with vegetables, avoiding sugar and processed foods, and balancing a complex carbohydrate with a protein.
But there are a number of behaviors and habits around eating (and drinking) that many of us engage in unconsciously. These habits can be a bit more tricky to solve––because this type of change involves actively shifting your mindset and bringing more awareness into your daily routine. But the good news is, identifying these sneaky saboteurs is half of the battle. Once you know what you’re up against, it becomes easier to shift your habits for good.
Let’s look at 5 common habits that can contribute to weight gain if left unchecked:
Sitting too long: Since the onset of the pandemic, more and more of us are now working from home. While the flexibility has been tremendously beneficial in some respects, it seems that people are now moving even less during the workday. Losing a few key small movements (the walk from the parking lot to the office, the trip up the stairs, the 1 minute walk to the office bathroom) has translated into even more time sitting hunched at a desk or a computer. This equates to less overall movement during the day and unfortunately, fewer calories burned.
Eating from large plates / bowls: The size of our dinnerware serves an unconscious cue to our mind––we tend to fill up the plate we’re offered. Many plates and bowls are not appropriately sized for portion control and with time can contribute to us taking more than we need, over and over again.
Drinking your calories: If you use cream or sugar in your morning coffee, you’re adding nearly 100 fairly empty calories before the day even begins. Always check the caloric content of your beverages––many fruit and smoothie drinks claim to be healthy, but the truth is they’re packed full of sugars and again, empty calories. Try an ice water with a slice of lemon and eat your veggies and fruits whole instead of drinking them. And if you’re actively looking to lose weight, alcohol calories are at the top of the list of the sneaky saboteurs, sometimes with up to 200 calories (or more) a serving ...
Rewarding yourself with food and drink: This is a tough one that many of us “work hard play hard” types deal with – it’s what I call “weekend-itis.” We play nice throughout the week, eating healthfully and avoiding sugar and alcohol, but when Friday at 5 hits, we “reward” ourselves with the very food and drink we’ve been avoiding. This typically works against any gains you have made.
Distracted eating and eating too quickly: I’ve saved the best for last! Distracted eating is the #1 sneaky habit I work on with most of my clients. And especially for menopausal women, distracted eating can be a killer as it can sabotage your weight loss goals. When you eat quickly while hunched over a computer or staring at your phone, you’re not “resting and digesting” – instead, you’re just feeding a cortisol cycle of spike and dip, spike and dip. This can be addictive for your system (and you might not even realize it’s happening!)
How to rid yourself of these sneaky habits – for good:
For desk workers (and for all of us), movement is a must. Set a reminder on your phone or on your digital calendar to get up every hour (The :55 minute mark tends to work well). Walk to the living room or kitchen, do 10 quick squats (or windmills if squats are tough), fill up your water glass, and return to work.
Always use a small salad size plate and bowl when plating your meals.
Switch up your beverage of choice. If it’s coffee with cream, try a low-calorie, low-sugar milk-alternative. (Or, just use a little bit less of the half and half and cut out the sugar). Make your own smoothie instead of buying one – use no sugar oat or almond milk (even leftover cooked oats work great), a handful of greens, ½ a banana (or any piece of fruit you have lying around), and some almond butter.
For weekend-itis: If you want to stop the “work hard play hard” cycle – here’s the kicker – don’t deprive yourself so much during the week. If you tend to overdo it with alcohol on a Friday night, let yourself have a beer or wine on a Tuesday and interrupt the deprivation part of the cycle. Disrupt the theory that alcohol or sugar is the reward. Plus, make an early plan on Saturday morning with a friend for a hike or a bike ride to keep the temptation to overdo it in check.
Finally, here are some tips and tricks for combating distracted eating:
Do NOT eat at your desk and put screens DOWN during mealtimes. (Again, we’re going for rest and digest here.)
Note: if you must eat at your desk due to work restrictions, turn your computer or phone OFF for at least 3 minutes as you begin your meal. Try to build up to 5 minutes, then 10, then maybe even 20.
Take 20 minutes per meal. Time yourself and make yourself sit there and eat slowly for 20 minutes.
Take a bite, put the fork down, and chew. Take a breath in between bites. Then you have to pick it back up again! Soon, you’ll get to 20 minutes :)
Keep me posted on your journey!