It's What We Learned as Kids
We all have eating styles. We're not talking about diet here, we're talking about ingrained habits, even ones that seem very insignificant, that can have a huge impact on your ability to maintain a healthy weight. These ingrained habits can sabotage your best plans for improving your diet, losing weight, or staying fit. Eating styles are developed over the years, they don't just happen overnight. So, habits that were formed when you were a kid are the same ones that will show up time and time again when you're an adult.
How It Plays Out
For instance, were weekends the time when you got to eat all the pizza you could stuff into yourself and wash it down with as much soda as you could hold? Did you eat whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, without any restraint? This is where it will show up when you're an adult dealing with your weight issues: You decide to go on a diet and all week long you're rigid as can be - you live by the book, to the letter. Then Friday rolls around and, poof, it all goes out the window. You stuff yourself just like you did all those years ago.
Or, perhaps you travel a lot - either for work or pleasure. You find that wherever you go your eating habits change with the environment. You no longer keep track of what you're eating and as for calorie counting or restriction, well, that's a distant memory. Even though your intentions are great, your eating style from the past is what takes over.
How do you deal with it? Well, holding yourself back from things you really want to eat for five days straight is a surefire way to cause a major splurge on the weekend. Why not try a "mini-splurge" in the middle of the week. By giving yourself permission to have some food fun on a weekday, you'll be less likely to blow the entire program on the weekend.
The Calorie Sipper
The person who drinks their calories thinking that if they sip it doesn't count will find that added calories pile up quickly with these stealth fatteners. Drinks go down easily and quickly, and often they pack more calories than a meal would supply and in short order, too. Rather than sabotaging your progress with high-fat, super-sweet coffee specials, or soft drinks that are laden with sugar, customize your drinks to pack less fat. If you're a gourmet coffee hound, skip the whip cream and sweetener in the coffee and try drinking seltzer water (with a squeeze of lemon) instead of soda pop. You will likely find you won't even notice the difference and you'll be saving yourself a bundle of calories.
That Doesn't Count, Does It?
Some of us have this idea that if we're not sitting down at the table to eat, then the calories aren't really going in. We're confronted with food everywhere, from the checkout line at the pharmacy to the bagels and cream cheese at the office meeting on Monday morning. King-size chocolate bars beg to be purchased (and eaten immediately) at the grocery store and temptation lurks around every corner, eroding your willpower.
One sure way to deal with this sneaky eating style is to write down every single thing that passes your lips. You probably already track your meals, but if you start tracking the chocolate bar, the bagel, the chips or cookies that you "only had a couple of bites from", you'll find you've been ingesting hundreds of calories more than your calorie budget calls for. Once you see how fast those calories (and how high the number) add up, you'll have more resolve to just say no to the free samples at the store or the cookies and coffee for the meeting.
Part of being able to change an eating style is in the ability to identify it. Be on the lookout for habits that undermine your best intentions. Then you'll be able to make lasting changes that will benefit you for the long haul.