This is a guest blog post by Beth Casey Gold, R.D., M.S., and Heather Leonard, R.D., of the University of Vermont Vtrim Online Behavioral Weight Management Program
We don’t like the word “diet.” Diets are about restriction, sacrifice, and typically they aren’t too much fun. Instead, we’re all about lifestyle change through behavior modification. Guess what? It works. We’ve researched this technique for the past 18 years under the leadership of Jean Harvey-Berino, R.D., Ph.D. at the University of Vermont. You can lose and manage weight by simply changing troublesome habits. We’ve seen person after person go through our program and lose 1-2 lbs per week by doing just that.
What You Need to Know
There are strategies you can put into action right now to make your weight loss and management goals doable and your results sustainable. Here are five to get you started:
1. Reduce TV Time. Researchers at the University of Vermont found that watching less TV results in subtle but meaningful changes in overall activity levels (see The Archives of Internal Medicine.) They found that individuals who cut television viewing by 2.5 hours (based on the average of 5 hours per day) burned off an additional 120 calories a day – the equivalent of walking about 8 miles a week. Less TV time is good for kids, too – it significantly reduces the number of calories a child consumes.
2. Step Away From the Couch. The more places you associate with eating, the more likely you are to eat there. Decide on a “Designated Eating Place” (“DEP” for short) and restrict your eating to this location. Limiting eating to just one location in your house or office will help you avoid downing a lot of calories while doing something else, like watching TV or working at your computer.
3. Don’t Clean Your Plate. There’s no rule that says you have to finish what you started. In fact, research shows that people will automatically eat more when served bigger portions, regardless of physical hunger. To curb excess eating, start with a smaller serving by using a smaller plate or bowl. Measure your snacks into snack-sized bags rather than eating straight from the bag.
4. Sneak In Exercise. Three ten-minute walks are just as effective as one thirty-minute walk. One study found that people who took more short exercise bouts actually lost more weight. Create a new routine: instead of meeting a friend for drinks or coffee, ask her to join you for a weekly catch-up walk so you can burn calories over conversation.
5. Crack Open a Cook Book. Research shows that people who eat more meals at home consume fewer calories on average than people who dine out on a regular basis. You can keep meal planning simple by keeping your pantry stocked with healthier items— low-fat soup and a whole grain roll, salad with some diced chicken breast, or a quesadilla with salsa and a portion-controlled amount of cheese can be whipped together in the amount of time it takes to get through the drive-thru.
What to do at the Supermarket
We recommend finding the foods that best fit your individual goals according to taste, ingredients, and smart portion control. Be a smart consumer and make choices based on what matters most to you and what promotes better health habits for you. Don’t just follow the marketing message you see on the package–it may lead you the wrong way.
6. Don’t shop hungry. A grumbling stomach and impulse shopping go hand-in-hand.
7. Stick to your list. Unless you see a great buy on something you use regularly, stick to only “pre-planned” items.
8. Read labels. In one study, subjects who read labels consumed about 30 percent of their calories from fat (the amount recommended for healthy eating) versus 35 percent for those who didn’t read labels.
9. Shop the perimeter. Generally, you’ll find healthy, whole foods (produce, dairy, etc.) along the sides and back of the store. Packaged goods—including tempting snacks are concentrated in center aisles.
Old habits die hard, but mindfulness and vigilance will keep you on the path towards a healthier lifestyle!
You can read more from Beth and Heather at the Vtrim Community Blog
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