Eating can become just as disorganized and chaotic as any other activity that isn't thought out ahead of time. Planning establishes structure, which can help you stay within a calorie budget, reduce daily decision-making, and prevent overeating. Carve out some time today to think through a plan for the week. Start with a few basic foods to eat each day and add others to diversify your meals. Make a grocery list as you go. (Make it even easier! Cook quick meals at home that taste great and fight fat! Sign up for Chef'd and get all the ingredients and recipes delivered to your doorstep.)
Also consider your schedule. Before the start of a busy week, prepare more than one serving of food so you can enjoy the leftovers across the week. The following recipes are all designed to be made on Sunday, with quick recipes for the leftovers for the rest of the week:
Cook Once, Eat All Week: Roast Chicken
Cook Once, Eat All Week: White Beans
Cook Once, Eat All Week: Chickpeas
Cook Once, Eat All Week: Pork Loin
Cook Once, Eat All Week: Quinoa
Cook Once, Eat All Week: Black Beans
Cook Once, Eat All Week: Brisket
You're busy. No question. But are you as busy as you think? It's time to take a good look at how you're spending your time—you may be able to reorganize activities or eliminate them altogether (you'll be amazed at how free you evenings suddenly become just by clicking off the TV). You've probably heard the following advice before, but have you really tried them? Now's your chance.
- Combine tasks (e.g., pack your lunch for the next day while dinner's cooking)
- Delegate activities (e.g., have your spouse or kids take on chores to give you time to exercise)
- Make a realistic to-do list (do the most important things first and delegate less important activities to others)
- Streamline activities (e.g., making a grocery list and only purchase the items on it to limit wasting time wandering the aisles)
Who hasn't skipped a meal or two in the hopes of speeding up weight loss? Yeah, you shouldn't do that. Your body needs a regular supply of nutrients to run properly. Allowing large periods of time to pass before fueling yourself up can lead to undesirable physical symptoms, such as headache, lethargy, intense hunger, and overeating. And as any hungry grocery shopper has learned the hard way, it's considerably more difficult to make healthy choices when you're starving (hitting up the bakery section seems like such a good idea when you're famished). Try not to go longer than 4 hours between eating, and keep these 17 snacks that power up weight loss on hand.
How often do you eat in the bathroom? Disgusting, right? Most people wouldn't even think of it because they've linked the bathroom with other activities. Yet most of us have no problem eating in other rooms—and that's not good. Eating somewhere other than the kitchen or dining room isn't recommended, because noshing linked with a specific cue (like a room) can trigger eating even when you're not hungry. That's how bad habits are developed.
Think of it like this: What words come to mind when you picture a movie theater? Popcorn? That's because you've linked the movie theater with eating popcorn. Eating to satisfy hunger is an appropriate reason to eat, while eating just because you're in a movie theater (or a room in your house) is not. These habits can seriously derail your weight loss efforts.
Multitasking has a stellar reputation in the office, but when it comes to eating, it's just not smart. When you eat while doing other things—like driving or playing Words With Friends—you're less likely to notice how much you're eating or how full you're feeling, because your attention is divided. So work on being single-minded about your food; even if it feels strange at first, try doing nothing else while eating. The purpose is to increase your consciousness about what and how much you eat. (Try these simple tips to curb distracted eating for good.)
Don't go it alone when it comes to weight loss—unless you want to make things harder on yourself. Research shows that changing and maintaining healthy behaviors is made easier with support from others. Most friends and family members want to be supportive of your weight loss efforts, but may be unsure how to help you, so help them help you. Be specific about the support you need. Rather than saying, "Help me eat healthier and exercise more," say, "Could you go for a 20-minute walk with me after dinner on Mondays and Wednesdays," or "It would be great if you could offer me a small bowl of popcorn rather than a bowl of ice cream as an evening snack."
MORE: The 8 Friends Every Woman Needs
Just as locations can trigger your desire to eat, thoughts can also set off inappropriate eating. If you eat a chocolate chip cookie every time you see a commercial with cookies in it, you may begin to crave cookies and feel that you MUST have some each time you happen to think about them. Time to break the link between your thoughts and eating. Instead of heading directly to the pantry, distract yourself by doing something else immediately after you have the thought, particularly an activity that keeps your hands or mouth busy, like taking up knitting, calling a friend, or painting your nails.