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Losing Weight

Physical & emotional keys

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Losing Weight

The New Year kicks off with parties presenting irresistible desserts, delicious eggnog, and those tasty little appetizers that are so hard to refuse! With the alcohol flowing and office or family gatherings happening all around you, temptation is at an all-time high.

The New Year kicks off with parties presenting irresistible desserts, delicious eggnog, and those tasty little appetizers that are so hard to refuse! With the alcohol flowing and office or family gatherings happening all around you, temptation is at an all-time high.

While it may seem far too easy to fall off the health wagon and gain weight during times of celebration, there are certain steps that can prevent this from happening. With the right knowledge and plan of action, you can avoid weight gain and keep your waistline looking slim and trim all year round.

In order to achieve permanent success, a multifaceted method for losing weight that deals with both the mind and the body is optimum.

Weight Loss Tangibles

The physical part of weight loss deals specifically with the foods you eat. Specific food strategies will help you dampen your cravings but will also allow for the occasional indulgence at your family or work festivities. By simply planning ahead in this way, you will guard yourself against the urge to overindulge.

Seek Out Your Proteins

Proteins are essential for overall health and specifically for muscle repair, hormonal balance, immune system function, and weight loss. Protein also triggers the secretion of a hormone called glucagon that opposes insulin’s action and breaks down fat. In other words, the hormones glucagon and insulin are enemies and cannot stand being together. When one is present or up–the other chooses to be down.

Not only will protein sources drag down insulin levels and promote loss of fat, but they will also help to fill you up, cut cravings, and cause you to eat less. At parties, seek out protein options such as chicken, fish, egg, or low-fat dairy products to keep you satiated.

Nibble–don’t Gorge

Why are the French so thin? One of the main reasons is their portion sizes are significantly smaller. It is not realistic to think that you will never cheat or try a small amount of your aunt’s favourite homemade holiday pie.

However, it is good practice to be aware of the amount you eat. A food trick to help you eat less is to take your time chewing. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the stretch receptors in your stomach to say to your brain, “Hey, I am full!” Thus, take small bites, use your utensils, chew, slow down, and enjoy.

Watch the Booze

Although the occasional alcoholic beverage will not completely throw you off track, alcohol and weight loss do not normally go hand in hand. If you must drink, for every glass of alcohol you drink, be sure to have one glass of water. In addition, try to avoid alcoholic beverages made with sugary juices or sodas.

Having an alcoholic drink before or with a meal provides approximately 200 calories or more! Fat metabolism can decrease by as much as 73 percent for several hours after having a drink.

Drink Water

Lack of water can also slow the metabolic rate. This is, in part, due to the functioning of the liver: one of the liver’s many duties is to break down and metabolize fat.

However, if the liver receives a message that the kidneys are water deprived, it picks up the kidneys’ slack and turns its concentration to water retention instead of fat burning. In other words, in addition to being taxing to the liver, being in a state of dehydration will also promote fat storage.

Eat Breakfast

Do you remember when Mom told you that eating breakfast was the most important meal of the day? Well, it turns out Mom was right. In addition to picking the correct types of food, research shows that the timing and pacing of meals is also of the utmost importance.

In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that skipping meals and eating less frequently translated into weight gain, not weight loss. People who skipped breakfast were more than four times more likely to be obese than those who ate breakfast daily.

Mindful Weight Loss

On some level, we are all emotional eaters. Happy, bored, sad, lonely, depressed—we eat. However, food is not like any other vice. In other words, we cannot completely give up food, so we need to make peace with it.

On a biochemical level, emotional eating makes complete sense–especially around New Year’s when feelings tend to be elevated. If you’re feeling sad, moody, or low on energy, eating a sugary treat or a starchy food will cause a temporary secretion of feel-good chemicals, called endorphins, in the brain, thereby improving mood.

In addition, we tend to associate being full with being comforted. Unfortunately, soon after consuming food, this temporary feeling goes away and you’re left with feelings of guilt; you may think, “Why did I just eat that?”

No one craves an egg or a piece of celery when they need energy or during times of stress. If they did, the weight-loss issue would not be as out of control as it is. When emotionally eating and bingeing on whatever is close by, we tend to grab fast foods and sugary treats such as cookies, candies, soda, and cereal.

While eating in a hurried and chaotic manner, awareness of portion size flies out the window and instead of eating one cookie, before you know it, an entire bag of cookies is gone.

Shifting Your Awareness

In order to shift back to a state of aware eating, there are three main steps that must be taken.

Identify Your Triggers

Whether it is your job, loneliness, or the feeling that you deserve a reward, try to think about what causes you to need to overeat.

Find a Replacement Behaviour

In terms of emotional eating, replacement behaviours are critical. When you feel the frantic urge to eat and are ready to grab food–stop, take a breath, and try one of the following:

  • Go for a walk with a friend.
  • Drink lemon water.
  • Drink a cup of green tea.
  • Write in your food journal about how you are feeling.
  • Read a book.
  • Call a friend.
  • Do housework, such as laundry or ironing.

Practise Awareness Eating

Often we gobble down our food so quickly we cannot even remember eating it! Instead of eating for emotional reasons, try to practise awareness eating. Really focus on every bite: on the taste, colour, texture, and smell.

You may feel as though you have to force this habit in the beginning, but it will soon become second nature and will improve your health and weight.

By dealing with weight loss on two levels–physically and emotionally, you are sure to win the battle of the bulge and improve your health for life!

6 Steps for Mindful Eating

Try the simple steps below to help integrate awareness eating.

  1. Don’t take the entire bag or container of food. Portion out the serving size you would like to eat in a small dish or bowl.
  2. Take sips of water between each bite of food.
  3. Use your knife, fork, and spoon while eating to slow you down. Take breaths between bites and chew your food.
  4. Don’t keep snack foods in the house that are high on the glycemic index, including cookies, refined flour, sugared cereals, or other processed goodies. If the temptation is within your reach, you may fall off the health wagon during times of stress.
  5. Play the “name it” game. While sitting down for a meal, pick one or two things that you are really enjoying about your food. Is it the colour of the strawberry? The crunch of the walnut? This will slow down your eating and snap you back into awareness.
  6. Don’t continue eating to the point of feeling uncomfortable (for example, until your pants feel snug). Eat until you’re approximately 80 percent full.

Emotional Eating Behaviours

From the holiday season to times of stress, people tend to use food as a crutch. How do you know if you are an emotional eater?

A few classic behaviours include:

  • Trying repeatedly, but failing to keep weight off
  • Feeling frantic and out of control when eating
  • Eating frequently, even when not hungry
  • Bingeing on large proportions of unhealthy items
  • Eating late at night
  • Thinking often about food
  • Turning to food during times of stress or despair
  • Eating even when full
  • Feeling guilty following a food binge
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