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Jumpstart: 10 Quick Weight-Loss Tips

If you’ve ever lost and then regained weight, what’s the best way to stop overeating and keep weight off for good?

Rather than starting yet another diet, try tasting, really tasting your food—or meditating for a moment before eating. In other words, think outside the diet.

Welcome to the wonderful world of overeating research!

Our original research on Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE)1,2 unlocks some truly remarkable reasons you overeat and gain weight—and, conversely, how to overcome overeating, overweight, and obesity. Want to reap the rewards? Here are 10 tips—from our research and that of others—that could help you overcome overeating and reduce odds of being overweight or obese.

#1. Choose Chocolate

Savoring some chocolate might remind you of something you’d like to overeat—but don’t write off chocolate just yet as a (heavenly) food that could help you lose weight (yes, you read that right). In a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers showed that it’s possible to eat chocolate and weigh less if you choose the right kind—a cocoa content that’s 70% or higher, and the right amount—an ounce a day, about the size of a credit card. (Sorry, but more isn’t better `cause if you overeat chocolate, the calorie-count climbs too high to reap the rewards.) The secret to chocolate’s metabolic mystery? The antioxidant epicatechin, which revs up your metabolism.

#2. Feed Your Senses

Here’s your excuse to buy that favorite gourmet olive oil you’ve sniffed in one of those fancy olive-oil boutiques. Scientists in Germany have linked an aroma—specifically, the scent of olive oil—to eating and weighing less. Somehow, the scent of olive oil lead research participants to feel satiated sooner than those in the canola-oil scented group. And it gets better: those in the olive-oil group lost weight, while the canola-oil folks gained weight. Can “sense-filled” dining really up your odds of eating less? Yes, according to my research on Whole Person Integrative Eating,1,2“Sensory Disregard” is one of the 7 overeating styles we identified. To find out if aroma is a stay-slim tool that works for you, try your own experiment with scent-sory olive oil and other scintillating scents. 

#3. Nix Night Eating 

Call it nighttime hunger, nocturnal eating, or night eating syndrome (NES). Regardless of what it’s called, if you do a lot of overeating after you’ve had dinner or well into the wee small hours, it’s a triple weight-gain whammy! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reveal why: 1) your metabolic rate and digestion slow down at night; 2) consuming a lot of food at night wreaks havoc with hormones that control appetite, and; 3) eating when your body is meant to relax and restore itself busts your body’s built-in biological clock. The take-away: Simply put, human beings aren’t meant to eat a lot in the evening hours. It’s a formula for gaining weight and making it hard to lose weight.

#4. Dine by Design

When you eat in emotionally (think eating while surrounded with angry people) and aesthetically (visualize eating in your car in a traffic jam) unpleasant surroundings, my Whole Person Integrative Eating research1,2revealed you’re more likely to overeat. So think about the atmosphere in which you’ll be eating ahead of time. As often as possible, each time you eat, design a pleasing dining experience by creating an emotional and physical atmosphere that’s as pleasant as possible.

Which leads to…

#5. Pay Attention to How You Feel

Emotional eating—turning to food to soothe negative emotions or out-of-control food cravings—is the #1 predictor of overeating and weight gain, according to my Whole Person Integrative Eating research.1,2 To get control, try this: First, commit to getting in touch with your feelings before, during, and after eating. Next, make a conscious choice to eat when your emotions are balanced—not negative. Then recognize that one of the best reasons for eating is a healthy appetite, meaning, don’t let yourself get too hungry. The bottom line: Commit to eating for pleasure, with a healthy desire for food, and experience feel-good emotions when you eat and enjoy!

#6. Eat with Others

A famous study that began in the early 1960s in the small town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, explores the influence of human relationships and social support on the metabolism of high-fat, high-cholesterol, calorie-dense foods. Amazingly, this study suggests that when social support is present in our lives, especially when we eat, what we eat is somehow metabolized differently—so much so that it can keep you from getting sick. My more recent research on overeating1,2 revealed that eating alone more often than not—what I call Solo Dining—is yet another “new normal” eating style that strongly increases the odds of overeating. When it’s time to eat a meal, invite others to join you. Share mealtimes with friends, family, or coworkers as often as possible. Or if you have a pet, consider eating at the same time as your furry friend!

#7. Don’t Diet

Although dieting, judging food as “good” or “bad,” and thinking a lot about the “best” way to eat may not seem to have much in common, they are all characteristics of the overeating style I describe as “Food Fretting.”1,2If you see yourself in the food-fretter scenario, you’re at increased odds of overeating and weight gain. To get off the food-fretting treadmill, first and foremost, stop dieting. Instead, perceive food and eating as one of life’s greatest pleasures, and choose Integrative Eating as your most-of-the-time dietary lifestyle. Choose wisely (see “Get Fresh,” below) and enjoy.

#8. Get Fresh

If your most-of-the-time way of eating is, say, a donut and coffee for breakfast; a burger, fries, and coke for lunch; pizza for dinner; and chips as a snack, my research on Whole Person Integrative eating suggests that “fast foodism” is your main overeating style.1,2If a diet of mostly fast and processed foods is typical for you, consider getting in touch with your inner fresh-food fairy. You can do this by replacing sugar-, fat-, and salt-laden foodish foods—ingredients that can amp up your “overeating engine”—with more fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts and seeds, and lean, free-range, chemical-free animal foods. Worth a try, don’t you think?

#9. When You Eat, Eat

Do you ever eat while watching TV? Or while working at your computer? Or when you’re driving? If you eat while doing other things, you’re doing “task snacking,” a Whole Person Integrative Eating overeating style that is linked with overeating and increased odds of weight gain.1,2The antidote? Mindfulness eating. Give up eating while doing other activities. Instead, stay mindful, keep focused on your food, and do one thing at a time. In other words, eat when you eat!

#10. Quit Chemical Cuisine

Obesogens are the manmade chemicals—plastics and pesticides—which have found their way into our food supply and beverages. They wreak their havoc on both appetite and weight by mimicking estrogen, a hormone that can make you fat. The solution? One quick tip for avoiding “chemical cuisine” is to stay away from bisphenol A (BPA) found in canned foods, bottled beverages, meat packed in plastic, and more.

The key take-away is this: To attain and maintain weight loss…for life, think outside the diet by changing beliefs you have about dieting, losing weight, and keeping it off. Replace limiting weight-loss “think” with insights into the underlying reasons you overeat and gain weight—some of the overeating styles we just told you about. The 10 key weight-loss solutions are your first step in jump-starting a relationship to food and eating that can help you turn overeating into optimal, whole person integrative eating…and attaining and maintaining weight loss…for life.

Visit Deborah’s websitemakeweightlosslast.com, for free evidence-based, credible information and education about optimal eating for weight loss and well-being. You can also visit her blog, integrativeeating.com.


Originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. 

References:

  1. Scherwitz L, Kesten D, “Seven Eating Styles Linked to Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Explore: The   Journal of Science and Healing 1, no. 5 (2005): 342–59.
  2. Kesten D, Scherwitz L. “Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Program for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 14, no. 5 (October/November 2015): 42-50.
Junk Food Concept

Blues-Busting Foods: Rx For Emotional Eating

For many, negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression, lead to out-of-control eating…and ensuing weight gain. Knowing which foods can bust the blues, without weight gain, could reduce the odds of emotional eating episodes. Meet the foods that may help.

Mac and cheese. Chocolate chip cookies. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Some call it “comfort food”; others say it’s “food as friend.” However you phrase it, turning to food to soothe unpleasant feelings—from depression and anxiety to anger, loneliness, even fatigue—is the key cause of Emotional Eating. As a matter of fact, our research revealed that eating to cope with negative feelings is the #1 reason we overeat; and the key cause of weight gain.

Theories abound about the causes of out-of-control eating. Is it linked to brain chemistry? Or is it a behavioral addiction? Or both? What is clear is that when some people experience unwelcomed feelings such as fear, anger, anxiety, or depression— because of physical (such as back pain), emotional (negative feelings), mental (stress-filled thoughts), or spiritual (emptiness) distress, they may turn to food to feel better. Why? Because food does, indeed, have the power to bust the blues! Here’s why.

Anatomy of Emotional Eating

Have you ever felt frustrated, and turned to carbohydrate-dense fries, cake, cookies, or potato chips—seemingly unable to stop until the whole bag (or bags) is gone? If so, it’s possible you’re self-medicating unpleasant feelings with food. How so? Certain hormones—naturally occurring “chemical messengers” released when you consume certain nutrients (such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, and so on) in food—have the power to “replace” negative emotions with feel-good feelings. This is because high-carb foods, such as chips, stimulate the production of serotonin, an emotion-friendly hormone that calms and soothes the psyche.

It seems so easy: load up on carbs, feel better. But you pay a price for this feel-good fix. This is because processed, sugar- and fat-laden junk food—from donuts, cookies, and cake, to chips, fries, candy bars, and soda—ultimately, are “downer” foods. This means these often tasty, high-carb foods may provide some short-term comfort by releasing soothing serotonin, but you won’t get long-term relief. Rather, sugar-laden comfort foods could worsen negative feelings, because after they drive up insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar and energy absorption), your blood-sugar levels inevitably plummet, leaving you even more depressed and fatigued then prior to eating them.

Damage Control: Calming Carbs Without the Crash

If you’re an emotional eater—if you cope with unpleasant emotions by overeating and bingeing on high-carb, super-sweet foods—there are many proactive steps you can take to turn the tide. For starters, consider consuming some blues-busting foods that bring the benefits of serotonin—without the downside of the emotional “crash” and the weight gain that bingeing on processed, high-calorie, “downer” food (products) can cause.

Here are some quick-fix, mood-friendly foods and snacks that not only may bust the blues, they may crush cravings and curb your urge to splurge.

FLASH TIP: BE SURE TO WAIT AT LEAST 20 MINUTES AFTER YOU EAT TO GET THE CALMING AFFECTS OF SEROTONIN. THIS IS HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR YOUR BRAIN TO REGISTER THAT SEROTONIN IS WORKING ITS WONDERS.

Smoothie. Combine 2 cups chopped dark leafy greens, 1 cup blueberries, 3 walnut halves, 1 cup milk of choice (cow, soy, almond, rice), ½ cup juice of choice, 3 walnut halves, 1 teaspoon flax oil. Blend.

Avocado spread. Toast a piece of multi-grain bread or choose whole-grain rice crackers. Mash ½ avocado, add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the avocado on the bread. Or a tablespoon of nut butter (peanut, tahini, etc.) on it.

Popcorn. Pop some air-popped popcorn. Spritz lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Toss.

Cereal. Enjoy a bowl of cracked oatmeal with a handful of blueberries and milk of choice.

Nuts/Seeds. Try a ¼ cup of raw, unroasted nuts or seeds of choice. A sampling: walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Veggies. Munch some carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes; crunch kale or Romaine lettuce leaves. Optional: Use the nut butter blend, above, as a dip or spread for your veggies.

Fish. Enjoy a tuna or salmon salad. Mix together water-packed tuna fish, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, diced celery and red onion, juice from ½ lemon, salt and pepper.

Fruit. Have an apple, papaya, orange, frozen grapes, banana, kiwi, cherries, pineapple pieces, tangerine, or any other fruit you like.

Chocolate. Savor a piece or two of dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Or make hot chocolate with 100% cocoa powder and milk of choice.

The take-away: Enhancing emotions by consuming fresh, whole, blues-busting foods—instead of processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, and calories—is a sound step toward overcoming Emotional Eating, the #1 overeating style our research on Whole Person Integrative Eating has revealed.

In other words, if you turn to food that enhances feel-good feelings, but that also nourishes your mind and body—without the “downer” crash—you’re more likely to lower your odds of Emotional Eating episodes. How so? You’ll keep your mind-body in balance.

Visit Deborah’s websitemakeweightlosslast.com, for free evidence-based, credible information and education about optimal eating for weight loss and well-being. You can also visit her blog, integrativeeating.com.


Originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects.