Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Weight Loss Starts with Awareness- And a Pen!

I've shared this tip with a few people seeking advice on how to get their nutrition back on track this week, so perhaps it will be helpful to a few of you out there. In general, I shy away from the word "diet," as it has a temporary connotation, as opposed to a revised, holistic, long-term approach to healthful eating, and tends to get a bad rap anyway. If you want to make changes to the way you eat and, by connection, the way your body looks and feels, the first step is awareness.

No practice is more effective for gaining a realistic perspective on your eating habits and distinguishing where you need to make adjustments than taking good old fashion pen to paper. For one week, write down everything that you eat and drink, including the coffee cake sample at Starbuck's, the candy bowl at the reception desk, the late night snack . . . everything. More importantly, do NOT judge yourself. Simply, write it down. No one will see this record, so the accuracy will only serve to help you achieve your own goals in the end. Next, try to keep track of when you are eating which foods. This attention to how time of day influences your choices will help you identify when you are most likely to derail. Do you hit the vending machine at the same time every day? Do you deprive yourself all day and then feel compelled to binge after dark? Once you notice troublesome patterns, you'll be better equipped to adapt. Can you pack a healthful snack as a substitute for the assault on the vending machine that you seem destined to make at 3:30 p.m. every day? Do you need more carbs by day, so that your dinner can be a little lighter and leaner in the evening? Do you crave sugar on the days you skip breakfast?

After keeping careful track of what you eat for at least one week, review it. What's extraneous? What doesn't truly fuel your body? Empty calories. Aimless grazing. Emotionally triggered binges. Before you worry about a glycemic index or villify carbohydrates, you need to figure out which foods and patterns are currently undermining your health. Remember, do NOT judge. Just take an honest look, and go from there. The fringe benefit is that you may even find that the act of writing down what you eat and, therefore, seeing it in black and white might be enough to discourage unhealthy choices. For healthy choices and easy recipes, continue to check in regularly with The World According to Om Gal. Bon appetite!

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