Eating when not hungry or overeating at first may pacify the thoughts spinning in our minds and sure, that chocolate bar may momentarily quiet the noise, but the noise quickly turns into “why did I eat that!” and “Oh no, now I have to eat salad ALL DAY tomorrow.” When tomorrow rolls around, however, we may eat salad for lunch but by 4pm all will power goes out the door. Suddenly cookies seem more important than anything else in the world.
So how do we turn on the willpower deep inside each of us to make healthier eating choices to save our waistlines and health?
Get Healthy and Forget about Losing Weight
In the face of trying to get pregnant, the first step is to put worrying about losing weight aside and replace those nagging thoughts with how to nourish yourself and support a healthy pregnancy. Not only will eating healthy (and doing exercise of course) help to make you more fertile, it will also help reduce pregnancy complications and will have long term health benefits for your baby. You may find that by ending the diet battle and welcoming thoughts on how to eat for health inside will naturally melt the weight away.
Exercise is Medicine
The other half of the coin is to have a solid exercise regime. Exercise is essential for weight maintenance and to support a healthy pregnancy. Ideally, we all should be doing a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity each and every day.
In this blog post we will address eating habits. For free exercise plans, please see the blog Safe Workouts for Women Trying to Conceive).
The 'Get Healthy' 30 Day Eating/Habit Challenge
An idea or goal is only helpful if it is put into practice. To change or add a habit without a plan can be extremely difficult to implement. To start eating healthier and to change overeating habits, try this challenge for the next 30 days: Find the one change below that works for you. Do the change for 30 days.
If the method works for you, keep up the good work. You can add a new method each month or simply keep doing the one that works. If it doesn’t work, simply pick a different method below and try again with the new method for 30 days until you find one that you can maintain.
Method One: Mindful Eating
Challenge: Eat when hungry and stop when satisfied
“If the hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution”
Mindful eating will help you to end triggers and habits that cause you to overeat. Let's say you get home from work and you are STARVING. You can’t possibly wait until your salmon and broccoli are ready and so you eat half a block of cheese and a box of crackers before you even wash the broccoli. After finishing dinner you feel bloated and stuffed. If this sounds familiar, it's time to reprogram your brain and recognize that we are no longer living in the stone age when we didn't know when our next meal would happen.
Here are two ways to practice mindful eating:
- First, recognize that hunger is not an emergency. Next time your brain says, “I’m hungry! Must eat now!’ take 3-5 deep breaths, drink some water and gently remind yourself that this is not an emergency and that you will have your meal soon.
- Second, to stop eating when you are full, put your food or fork down in between bites and talk to yourself. Ask yourself, 'am I still hungry?'. If you are not, stop eating and put the food away.
Method Two: Veggies and Fruit Trick
Challenge: Add veggies and/or fruit to every meal
This one is pretty simple, To feel more full and satisfied and enjoy all the health benefits you can get from food, add veggies and/or fruit to every meal you have each day.
There is no limit to how many vegetables and fruit you want to eat.
Method Three: Reverse Psychology
Challenge: Every time you reach for an unhealthy choice, stop the action and tell yourself, "I chose to be healthy and can have all the fruit I want."
The brain does not like to hear the word ‘no’. It immediately puts you on the defense and makes you believe that you are depriving yourself. So, next time you are at a party, instead of telling yourself "no, you can't have those cookies," and you start to feel deprived and the monolog in your head starts to tell you that you don't want to do this healthy challenge anymore and life is too short to torture yourself this way, tell your brain, "Yes! Yes I can eat all the vegetables I want. I chose to be healthy."
Method Four: Protein and Veggies for Breakfast
Challenge: Have a protein breakfast every morning
Whether you eat breakfast at 7am or 11am, in this challenge, make sure you start the day with the right foot forward by eating protein and veggies for your first meal. Eating a breakfast with protein and vegetables (or fruit) has a number of benefits.
First, the nutrients are great for your health. Second, the protein will help to keep you satiated throughout the day and make it less likely for you to crave unhealthy foods later. Third, the fiber will help to make you feel more full.
Examples: 1) plain whole milk yogurt with seeds and fruit with a dash of honey or 2) Eggs with spinach on whole grain toast.
Method Five: Sugar cut down
Challenge: Eliminate sugar from everything but dessert
Let’s say you sit down to a ‘healthy’ meal of soup, a roll and a salad. You probably don’t want sugar in your soup, bread or salad, do you? There is a significant chance that there is quite a bit of sugar in all of it. How? Check your soup ingredients, was sugar added? Sugar can be added to even Organic Vegetable Stock. Sugar is also often added to breads and salad dressings.
Method Five may have the most powerful impact on your diet because not only does it significantly reduce sugar, which can lead to diabetes, certain types of cancer, weight gain and inflammation, but it will also requires eating less processed foods. Why? Because so many processed foods contain sugar. Foods that claim to be natural and organic are not safe from loads of added sugar. Sugar can be in the form of corn syrup, agave, cane sugar, maple syrup. Save sugar for dessert and skip it altogether from your main meals and snacks.
PS. There are recipes for desserts made with honey in place of sugar that are still delicious and have health benefits that are not found in other sweeteners.
Method 5: Golf Ball trick and hara hachi bu.
Challenge: Eat until you are 80 percent full
Have you heard the Japanese proverb, hara haci bu? That means eat until you are 80% full (source). It’s still essential to eat healthy, but stopping at 80% will do wonders for you waistline which is also essential for health.
Our culture tends to raise adults that massively overeat. This could be do to many reasons such as being raised to leave nothing on our plate, being rewarded with food or eating fast while trying to do other things at the same. Our natural ability to stop eating when full has been turned off since we were small children. To stop when you are 80% full, leave a golf ball portion left behind for every meal you have. Since most of us aren’t able to tell when we are 80% full, the golfball trick is a great way to start. You may be surprised to see that you are really full 20 minutes later and didn’t need to have as much food as was on your plate.
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