Breaking the Habit
Turn the tables on those bad food habits
- By Colleen Ringer
WHAT'S YOUR ACHILLES' HEEL? Cookies? Repeat late-night
rendezvous with rocky road? When it comes to food, we all have our
weaknesses. But as the saying goes, knowing you have a problem is
the first step."Once you've identified your bad food
habits, it's a lot easier to go about solving them,"
says Lindsey Toth, a registered dietitian and representative for
the American Dietetic Association.
Here are four of the most common pitfalls and how to fix them.
YOU BAIL ON BREAKFAST
"If you skip breakfast, you're probably going to
have a lousy morning and overeat later on," Toth
says. And that's not all: Breakfast bailers are four times more
likely to struggle with obesity and are at higher risk for type 2
FIX IT: "Eating breakfast can help you
achieve or maintain weight loss," Toth says.
"It will clear the morning fog and make you more
energetic." One of the biggest obstacles to eating a
morning meal is time, so stock your kitchen with things that can be
eaten on the go. Bananas, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and instant
oatmeal are all solid choices. If you're not into traditional
breakfast foods, think outside the cereal box. Throw together a
fruit and cheese plate or top a few slices of baguette with ricotta
YOUR MIDDLE NAME IS SODA-LICIOUS
If your desk is littered with soda cans, you know exactly what
we're talking about. And guess what? This one is something even the
experts struggle with. "I used to drink a ton of diet
pop," confesses Bethany Thayer, R.D., a spokeswoman
for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "I still
have a diet soda in the morning, but that's my only one. I've cut
way back." Thayer is more than aware of the fizzy
stuff's flaws. Soda contains no nutritional value-no vitamins,
minerals, protein, fiber, nada. That's why kicking the habit,
especially if you're drinking the regular, sugar-laden variety, is
FIX IT: Thayer doesn't keep soda in the house, and
at lunch she passes up pop for a tall glass of water. She even
drives differently to work to avoid temptation. "I
drive in the lane farthest away from the turn in to the drive-thru
so that I have to go by it and I can't change my
mind." For those who find plain water too tedious,
try throwing in frozen fruit, such as strawberries or watermelon,
or mix up a batch of sugar-free iced tea. Even drinking fat-free
milk is better, Thayer says, because although it contains calories,
it provides nutrients as well.
YOUR 3 O'CLOCK SLUMP IS OFFICALLY KNOWN AS "CANDY BAR
You're sleepy, you're hungry and you've lost focus. Your answer
is to reach for an instant pick-me-up in the form of junk food. The
slight boost you may feel from taking in the added sugar and
calories will only result in a crash later-which might compel you
to go for round two.
FIX IT: Channel your inner Girl Scout and be
prepared."You know you're going to be hungry come 2 or
3, so what can you have that's ready for you?" Thayer
says. "Maybe you always have apples on hands, so that
becomes your new snack." Or maybe some nuts, edamame,
cottage cheese or veggies with hummus. Planning is everything.
WHETHER YOU'RE CELEBRATING OR COMMISERATING, FOOD IS THE
"If you're in a bad mood, you're probably going to
turn to something rich in carbs and sugar," Toth
says, both of which are bad news for your waistline. Similarly, a
celebratory mood might kick your good intentions to the curb.
FIX IT: Get in the habit of doing something nonfood
related. Gather your girlfriends for pedicures instead of pasta and
pinot noir. It will cost you about the same, and it's an activity
that provides plenty of opportunity to chat. Or hit the nearest
mall-just steer clear of the food court.