Impulse eatingEven if you stick to your diet most of the time, impulse eating can interfere with reaching your weight loss goals. Try these simple techniques at home and when you’re dining out to help you outsmart common obstacles.

What to do at home

1. Keep a journal. Studies show that there may be just a few minutes a day when we’re most vulnerable to giving in to impulse eating. Write down what you eat and when. It will help you spot those situations when you need to take extra precautions.

2. Manage stress. Reinforce your will power by lowering your stress levels. Get plenty of good quality rest and sleep. Find a relaxation practice that works for you. Meditate daily or book a soothing massage.

3. Sit down to eat. It’s easy to eat without accountability if you eat standing up or while you’re multitasking. Make a point to sit down and eat. It will also help you digest your food better.

4. Use smaller plates. Downsizing your plates will help you feel full with fewer calories. Portions will look more generous, so you’ll be less likely to want to go back for more.

5. Serve one portion at a time. Get in the habit of dishing out a few cut vegetables or nuts if you want to munch while watching TV. With this approach, you’ll be forced to decide if you really want to make a return trip to the kitchen.

6. Take extra precautions when you have company. Family dinners and holiday gatherings are important traditions that nurture our relationships. They also tend to make us eat more. Researchers find that the bigger the group, the more likely we are to overdo it.

• Focus on talking with your loved ones.
• Beware of nibbling, especially when alcohol may lower your inhibitions.

7. Limit your exposure to commercials. Advertisers know that the image of a pizza or cheesecake can make us crave the real thing. Distract yourself with other things. For example, do some floor exercises when TV commercials come on.

What to do when dining out

1. Plan your order ahead of time. Long menus and enticing specials can lead you astray. Arrive with your mind set on a healthy choice, like green salad and grilled fish.

2. Take leftovers home. Ask to have half your order bagged to take home before you begin eating. If that’s not practical, push part of your meal to the side of your plate so you can save it for later.

3. Forgo the fast food restaurants. It’s hard to resist the supersized menus, and even the regular portions are packed with calories. Fast food is convenient, but it usually comes at the cost of being very high calorie.

4. Take note of the lighting. Candlelit restaurants are romantic but dim lights can also make us eat more than we planned. Order sensibly and enjoy the ambience.

5. Develop a buffet strategy. Circle the buffet first to cherry pick the best stuff instead of grabbing it all. Sit far away so it’s less convenient to go back for refills.

6. Carry around your own snacks. Keep a small insulated pack of yogurt and baby carrots in your car. Enjoy having better options than the chips and candy bars you’ll find in most vending machines and convenience stores.

7. Fill up before you go grocery shopping. Eat something nutritious and filling before you head to the supermarket. You’ll save both money and calories.

Managing your weight is an important part of looking and feeling your best. Discover the triggers that tempt you into impulse eating so you can get them under control. Then you’ll be able to stick to your diet at home and your favorite restaurants.

Dr. Tracey Marks
Dr. Tracey Marks

Helping busy people achieve their best through effective lifestyle choices that improve their personal and professional lives.


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