Stop Counting Calories
Originally Published: Feb 01, 2019
Did your New Year’s Resolution include losing weight? Stop counting calories and focus on these tips instead:
Linger over your meal
People who eat slowly are 42% less likely to become overweight than those who ate quickly, according to a 2018 study in the BMJ Open journal. Similar to eating while distracted, when you eat quickly, you’re not allowing time for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full. Fast eaters eat right through their fullness cues.
Tips to help you slow down:
- Put your fork down between bites
- Chew your food slowly
- Chew and swallow your food before eating more
- Enjoy the company with you at the table instead of only focusing of the food
Count sheep, not calories
In the text book I use for teaching Introductory Nutrition, it states there is a direct link between lack of sleep and weight gain. Hormones that regulate our feelings of hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin) get mixed up when we are sleep-derived. Levels of ghrelin increase and make us hungrier, while levels of leptin decrease making us feel we need to eat more. Unfortunately, most of us are not reaching for extra portions of fruits and veggies when hunger hits, but instead crave quick energy foods like sweets and processed carbs. Just one night of inadequate sleep can mess with your brain’s hunger cues. For most adults, 7 hours of sleep per night is recommended.
Track what you eat
Studies have proven that keeping a food journal can be an effective weight loss tool. I know, it works, but most of us hate to do it. This time, instead of tracking calories, track your behaviors:
- Log the time you started eating and the time you stopped
- List what you were doing while you were eating: watching television, answering emails, etc.
- Record how you were feeling while eating: happy, angry, bored, etc.
- Gauge how hungry you were before you started eating on a scale of 1 – 5 (1 meaning you were very hungry; 5 not that hungry)
After a few days of recording your intake, look back for patterns or trends that encourage you to eat when you’re not hungry or moods that affect how you eat. Standing back to analyze your intake in a non-critical way can help you spot habits and identify certain behaviors.
Weight loss involves change. Understanding what you do is the first part of change. Tools such as journaling and mindfulness exercises can help you learn more about yourself, your habits, and your behaviors. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Make one small change at a time to get you where you want to be.