The New Year is in full swing. Now that it’s a few weeks since we first resolved to shed those extra pounds, it’s time to remind ourselves to stay focused on our goals. It’s easy to slide back into old habits, which is why we need to keep ourselves in check. These pointers from Ryerson University Department of Psychology’s Dr. Stephanie Cassin are sure to keep you on the right track:
1. Remind yourself of your reasons for change. In order to maintain changes to your eating habits, the advantages of changing your eating habits should outweigh the advantages of staying the same. Make a list of top five reasons why you want to change your eating habits (e.g., improve your health, energy, weight, mood, confidence). Post this list in a visible spot (perhaps in the kitchen) and read it regularly to remind yourself of the reasons why you want to maintain these changes.
2. Reduce your vulnerability to overeating . Although you might feel tempted to go on a strict diet after the holidays, skipping meals and eating too little can actually increase your vulnerability to overeating because it leaves you feeling physically or psychologically deprived. It is important to eat meals and snacks at regularly scheduled times throughout the day, limit your consumption of alcohol (and any another other substances that increase impulsive eating), and practice good self-care habits (e.g., adequate sleep and exercise).
3. “The more the merrier” does not apply to junk food . Moderation is the key to maintaining lifestyle changes. Keeping your cupboards filled with junk food is not recommended, but neither is strict avoidance of “forbidden” foods. Instead of stocking up your kitchen with junk food and sneaking cookies out of the cupboard, buy healthier snacks at the supermarket and prepare them in advance so you have fresh fruits and veggies ready to eat. Try keeping pre-cut carrots, celery sticks or grape tomatoes in clear containers in the fridge so you can grab them first before reaching for something else that has more calories.
4. Find other pleasures in your life . If you want to give up bad eating habits for good, it is important to replace those habits with other enjoyable activities. Make a list of pleasurable activities, being sure to include some activities that are incompatible with overeating (e.g., taking a hot shower, giving yourself a manicure). Incorporate these activities into your daily routine, particularly when the urge to overeat is high. When that mid-afternoon craving for chocolate or chips strikes, grab an apple instead and go for a quick walk to take your mind off the urge for an unhealthy treat.
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