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By Nutrition Experts

Tuesday, April 9, 2013.

To follow a healthy diet, one of the most important things you have to do is break the habits, those old habits of a lifetime, which are perhaps holding you back.

Is it your habit at this time of the year to spring clean? The house, the cupboards, the car, your desk at work, the garden, your body and mind? It is refreshing and re-energising to have a good 'clear out'. But while you are doing all the practical clear outs at this time of the year, this week we want you think about clearing out something else...

Those bad habits. You know, those comfortable little customs which you have had for years. The ones which have been comforting and consoling you over the dark winter months. We all have them. But this week we are going to clear out the damaging ones, the ones that are unhealthy or adding inches to our waists.

Are you a creature of habit?

Human beings are creatures of habit. Habita can be useful because they make life easier, a routine can give stability and even a sense of security. If you do something once, it's likely that you will do it again. If you do something 20 times, you’ll probably do it 200 times. And getting into a routine makes getting the kids to school, doing the shopping or getting dinner on the table, that bit easier. This is great, provided your habits are not fattening habits.

Habits increase in strength the longer we keep them. The good news is that they can be replaced with habits that help us to lose weight, these healthy habits can become just as strong as our unhealthy habits once were.

Clear out the bad habits

This is a good time to think about and write down your own 'unhealthy habits'. These might include dishing out portion sizes that could feed a small army, going without breakfast or still popping that pack of choc chip biscuits into your trolley...purely out of habit.

Have you got the nibbles?

But if you're like the rest of us, your number one worst fat habit, right at the top of your list will be...nibbling.

Nibbling, picking, snacking, call it what you will, tops of the list with most of us. When we're trying to lose weight, nibbling is a habit that we must break. All those ‘little extras’ soon add up to extra weight and extra inches. Nibbling is something most of us do, yet we are all convinced we don’t. We nibble the leftovers, we snack at work, we pick when we make the children an after-school snack, we nibble when making meals, we nibble at night when the children are in bed. We can nibble our way to gaining weight rather than losing weight.

The first step to stop the nibbling is to be aware that you are doing it. And the only way to find out how much you really nibble is to write down or log everything you eat in your food journal. Be honest with it and be honest with yourself. Write down everything - every single little thing - you eat. This is a great exercise for finding out exactly what is holding back your weight loss.

The second step is to decide very positively that you are going to eat what’s on your meal plan each day. Leave nothing to chance... or to habit.

The third step - set yourself some very sound ground rules:

  1. You will eat only what you have planned.

  2. You will eat only at the table.

  3. You will eat enough at meal times to satisfy you.

  4. You will not ‘clear the table’ at the end of the meal. Left-overs go in the bin, in the fridge or in the dog's bowl...anywhere but in your mouth.

  5. You will not buy chocolate (or any extra nibbles) when paying for petrol, newspapers etc.

  6. Keep your food interesting, exciting and different. Don’t choose the same meals every week as there's nothing like boredom for making that bag of crisps all the more tempting.

Spring is in the air. Spring into it looking forward to the lighter nights and the lighter You. Keep to your plan, get to the gym, get out walking, stop the nibbling, and stop eating more than you really need.

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