As weather cools, we eat more rich comfort foods, which traditionally prepared are higher in calories, fat, sodium and sugar than the less processed, fresh frequently raw summer fare (even here in LA). Wearing more clothes minimizes body awareness. After scarfing down seconds or thirds, the bulging stomach is out of sight, out of mind.
During my recent trip to South Korea, I learned the fantastically useful phrase: ip shimshim hae, which literally translates to “mouth boredom” in English. Clearly, Americans are not the only ones noshing when not truly hungry! Succumbing to the many daily temptations, we easily put on weight. Consume just an extra 250 calories a day (think 2 pieces of sandwich bread or an extra cup of cereal), and you’ll gain a pound every 2 weeks.
In interest of keeping you trim this winter, I’ll share my top 10 tricks to eliminate unnecessary snacking and curb cravings.
- Carry Toothbrush and Toothpaste. Gently brush each time you eat. A quick minty cleanse removes distracting food particles, which otherwise left to rot, contribute to tooth decay and a desire to keep eating. You know your full. This is closure.
- Chew Sugarless Gum. If you absolutely cannot brush after eating this is your Plan B. Plus, chewing gum will satisfy oral fixations that commonly trigger snacking between meals.
- Bring It on EOD! Tote workout clothes to the office, change there and head straight to your gym or to the park for a run immediately after work. Eliminate traveling home to change and thus, the opportunity to snack there. This habit frequently leads to cancelling sweat sessions. Because exercise increases feel-good endorphins that reduce cravings, try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.
- A Thorough Cleaning. Go through your fridge, freezer, kitchen cabinets, car, office desk drawers or anywhere else you’ve stashed food. Trash what you know lacks nutrition. While it’s great to keep healthy snacks like fruit and unsalted almonds in your car’s glove compartment or office fridge, it’s not cool to stash candy and cookies in your nightstand, behind the couch or hidden in the back of the pantry. Think about it. There’s a reason you’re hiding it from yourself or others, but you still know it’s there, and it still talks to you. Get rid of junkfood as well as your furtive guilt and those cravings!
- Get to Bizness in the Grocery. Eliminate unnecessary trips to groceries, pharmacies and convenient stores, where it’s easy to grab something equally unneeded. Go grocery shopping after you’ve eaten a healthy satisfying meal. Buy only what you need to prepare planned healthy meals. Unless I’m cooking for a crowd, I refuse to get a cart. The limited space in those plastic baskets and bearing the weight of my groceries forces me to only get the essentials.
- That’s the Plan, Stan. Plan to eat every 3-4 hours. Pack lunch for work or at least have an idea where you canget a healthy lunch. No plan can lead to feelings of desperation, which increases the likelihood you’ll make poor food choices.
- Naturally Delicious! Eat a diet rich in unprocessed vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish, nuts and eggs. Try it! Removing processed sugary foods and adding protein and fiber at every meal will level out your blood sugar. In a few days your cravings and stress levels will diminish substantially. Undoubtedly your ability to love yourself and control what goes in your tummy will go way up!
- Brew at Home. Coffee shops can be a diet death trap for many. Delectably crafted menus insist “try something artsy.” While coffee is calorie free, baristas enlist an arsenal of full fat milk, half and half, whipped cream, caramel, chocolate and flavored syrups to sneak in calories mostly coming from fat, refined sugar and high fructose syrup. Starbucks’ Java Chip Frappuccino® has 600 calories, 23g fat (14g saturated), 96g carbohydrates (77g sugar). And it’s nearly impossible to ignore those beautiful beckoning baked goods. Manage to pass on the fru fru coffee drinks? You probably feel even more entitled to a sweetreward. Instead, save bucks and calories, by brewing joe at home. Drink it black, make a latte with skim, almond or hemp milk, or try my low calorie, high protein, low sugar, caffeine-infused Espresso Smoothie http://www.whitneycole.com/2009/12/not-a-fatty-accino-espresso-smoothie
- Drink Up! Keep a huge bottle of water on your desk, in your car, purse…somewhere you are very aware of its presence, which will remind you to drink up! Hydration is essential for weight loss, and especially important if you are working out regularly. Drink 3, even 4 Liters daily to flush away toxins that keep weight on and cravings for crap food high. Frequently, we mistake dehydration for hunger. Our body can’t digest the food from a prior meal without water, so dehydration slows your metabolism. If cravings strike after you’ve recently eaten, chug! Surprise, tummy full, craving gone. For variety drop slices of lemons, limes, cucumbers, fresh ginger or a sprig of mint into your H20.
- Sleep. Aim for those essential eight hours every night. Less than seven repeatedly and your body senses stress, and wrongly anticipates an upcoming famine. To protect itself, your body decreases metabolism, stores fat in energy reserves and increases appetite. Get in bed an hour before you want to fall asleep about the same time each night. Put in a mouth guard or retainer. Read a fiction book by soft light. No computer, no TV, the light hypes us up. You’ll find your sleep quality increases. Your body will welcome a steady rise and rest routine, reducing stress equals releasing stress pounds and cravings.