As you will see from the book Mindless Eating, making meaningful changes in your diet (and life) is most successful by making small changes in your behavior. Drastic diets and depriving yourself of your favorite foods is a recipe for failure. The diet you are going to be on will be designed by you. You know yourself better then any doctor.
For your Power of 3 Diet Checklist, choose a few goals from this list….or make up your own. Hold yourself accountable by checking each box daily. Return your form to my office monthly.
- I will take a daily multivitamin
- I will eat slower (1 bite every 30 seconds)
- I will leave food on my plate
- I will pack a lunch
- No fast food
- I will use a smaller plate
- I will cut down on meat and carbs by 20%
- I will increase fruits and vegetables by 20%
- I will not go back for seconds
- I will not eat in front of the refrigerator
- I will not eat out of a package or bag
- I will stop eating when I feel full
- I will stop eating when I am no longer hungry (advanced)
- I will not eat while watching TV
- I will not eat at my desk/computer
- I will put everything I want to eat on my plate before I start eating (snacks, dinners, ice cream…)
- Stop drinking soda (pop)
- I will not keep sweets in the house (you will have to make a special trip to the store)
- I will buy food in smaller packages, especially snack food
- I will put food from large packages into smaller packages
- I will choose only 2 of the following (appetizer, entree, dessert)
- I will make less variety at dinner (1 side dish)
- I will drink 64 ounces of water a day
- I will drink liquids (except water) from taller thinner glasses
- I will replace unhealthy snacks in my refrigerator with healthy snacks (fruit/veggies)
- I will move unhealthy foods out of sight and healthy foods into sight
- I will make it inconvenient to eat junk food
- I will start eating last at the table
- I will be the slowest eater at the table
- I will pace myself with the slowest eater at the table
- I will decide how much to eat before I start eating, not during the meal
- I will split any dessert
- I will only eat when I am physically hungry
- I will use the half plate method at each meal (half fruit/veggie, half protein/starch)
- Make a food trade-off (I can eat X if I do Y)
- No second helpings of any starch
I will only eat snacks that do not come in wrappers
Some specific suggestions for specific types of eaters
Which one are you?
THE MEAL STUFFER
Meal stuffers eat primarily during mealtimes, but then they eat to excess, cleaning everything on their plate. They often eat so quickly that they’re uncomfortably full after they finish. Meal stuffers consider themselves to have “healthy appetites.” They often take second helpings at home.
Design a different dinner:
- Preplate the high-calorie foods in the kitchen and leave the leftovers there. Do not serve “family” style, unless it’s veggies and salad.
- Keep dinner classy by using nice dishes, but use smaller plates and taller glasses.
- Manage the pace. Slow down, so appetites can catch up with what’s been eaten.
- Avoid having too many foods on the table. The more variety there is, the more people will eat.
- Get into the habit of leaving something on the plate.
- Eat fruit for dessert instead of more indulgent choices.
- Adopt the Half-Plate Rule. Half the plate is filled with vegetables and the other half is protein and starch.
THE SNACK GRAZER
Grazers reach for whatever food is available, typically about three times a day. While they love the 4 C’s (cookies, chips, ice cream and candy), convenience is usually more important to them than taste. They seldom pass up a candy dish. For these people, snacking can be a nervous habit, something that gives them an excuse to get up and walk around, or something they can do with their hands while watching TV or reading. They might be hungry when they snack, but it’s almost done more out of habit than hunger.
Avoid snack traps:
- Keep the tempting foods out of sight and out of mind. For all those foods that aren’t good for you, think “back.” Put them in the back of the cupboard, in the back of the refrigerator, or in the back of the freezer.
- Do not “prebuy” snacks for a future occasion. If you must buy snacks, buy those your family likes but you don’t.
- If you get a craving, think of a substitute. Crunchy things like fruits and precut vegetables work for some people. Each week, buy a colorful variety of vegetables, precut them, and store them on the first or second shelf of the refrigerator.
- Chewing gum can distract you away from the 4 C’s: chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy.
- Only eat at the table—the one in the kitchen or the one in the dining room. Don’t wolf things down over the sink or in front of an open refrigerator.
THE PARTY BINGER
Parties—buffets, receptions, tailgates, and happy hours—these are high-distraction environments where the food is the backdrop for either business or fun, and it’s easy to lose track of how much they’ve eaten or drunk. Party bingers are often professionals who frequently wine and dine, or single, stay-out-late young people.
Party less hearty:
- Stay more than an arm’s length away from the buffet tables and snack bowls.
- Put only two items on your plate during any given trip to the table.
- Use the volume approach to make yourself feel full. Chow down on the big healthy stuff (like broccoli and carrots) and then see if you have room for the rest.
- When you think you’ll be distracted by an important (or fun) conversation, set the food down and give the conversation your full attention. Remember, the more you focus on people (and distractions like the Super Bowl on TV), the less you’ll tend to eat.
- As you enter the room, tell yourself you’re there first to conduct business and secondarily to eat. Be aware that tension or nervousness may be prompting you to refill your plate or your glass. The fact that this is not comfort food—you’re there for business, not pleasure—may strengthen your resolve to eat less or lighter food.
- If you plan to attend a cocktail party or a buffet-style dinner, arrive late or leave early.
THE RESTAURANT INDULGER
While many of us eat lunch away from home, the restaurant indulger also eats dinner out at least three days a week. Like party bingers, restaurant indulgers are often on an expense account. They may also be affluent gourmets or DINKs (double income, no kids) in their thirty-something years.
Develop restaurant rules:
- Use the Rule of Two: Limit yourself to two of the following: an appetizer, a drink, or a dessert. Pick any two.
- If the bread basket is on the table, you are going to eat bread. Either ask the waiter to forget it or to take it away early. You can also keep passing it so it stays on the other side of the table.
- Before you start to eat, ask the waiter to prewrap half of your entrée to take home. That way you will not be tempted to polish it off as soon as it arrives.
- Ask for water and alternate glasses of water with glasses of whatever else you’re drinking.
- Sit next to the person you think will be the slowest eater at the table. Use him or her as a pacesetter. Always be the last one to start eating, and set your fork down after every bite.
- If you want dessert, see if someone will share it. The best part of a dessert is the first two bites.
THE DESKTOP (OR DASHBOARD) DINER
Both speed-eat while multi-tasking at their desk or in their car. Desktop diners eat at their desk partly to save time, but more often to save the hassle of getting a real lunch. It’s not that they’re overly busy— they’re under-motivated. If the right person were to stop by to ask them to lunch, they’d probably go. But more often, they snack out of the vending machine or grab a donut from the mail room.
- Brown-bag it. Even if you only do this a couple of times a week, you’re ahead of the game because you’re in more control of your food choices.
- Stock your desk or lunchroom refrigerator with yogurt and pop-top cans of tuna fish. Protein can take the edge off a snack attack.
- Turn off the computer or pull the car over while you eat. If you focus on what you’re eating, you might even discover that you don’t really like vending-machine or convenience-store food.
- Use food policies and food trade-offs. For example: the first thing you eat at work is fruit; eating an indulgent snack means taking a walk during your break.
- Chew gum to prevent eating from boredom or stress.
- Replace every other soft drink with water. Offices tend to be dry. We often think we’re hungry when instead we’re simply thirsty. Fill up your water bottle a number of times each day.