Food for Thought in the New Year

Food for Thought in the New Year

Posted on January 9 by Vera Tarman
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Survived the holiday season? The feast is over, and for many, January is the time when the famine begins - the annual resolution to once again attempt to diet. But we know the story…. by February, the diet typically fails and the winter blues set in. 

If this is you, here are some suggestions that change this prediction.

1. Make sure that your meals are full and satisfying. Hunger is our bodies' cue to eat. We start to think, plan, daydream - even obsess- about food when we are hungry. It is this simple: being full means that you are not thinking about food and are much less likely to binge on the first food item (usually unhealthy) that passes you your way. Calorie restriction is probably the biggest reason for diet failures. A hungry person will not sustain successful weight loss for long. We are not built to be hungry and happy.

2. Plan your meals ahead of time. Are you making lunches so that you are not left to the mercy of restaurant menus and cafeteria choices? They show no mercy; the food industry is engineered to make you want to eat more than you need. If you "fail to plan" your meals, you may as well see this as "planning to fail" your diet.

3. Analyze your regular diet: Are you drinking hidden sugar in your pop or juices? Are you eating excess sugar in the carbohydrates you eat (bagels, muffins) that via the glycemic index may as well be sugar? Dropping these out of regular meals can make a huge difference to pounds - and those incessant cravings for more carbohydrates. 

4. Respect and protect your will power. Will power has a shelf-life of only a few hours - and that includes the restraint that you really upon throughout the day to control all your urges i.e. to not eat the donuts at the workplace, to not drive through a red light, to not hurry someone along at the crowded post office. By the end of the day, the cake in the fridge looms and is too daunting to refuse.

Changing your environment so that will power is reserved for the unexpected or unplanned is the key to successful behavior modification: Don’t have tempting foods in the fridge, on the counter, by your tableside. Each time you reject a tantalizing option, your will power deflates until there is none left.  If you must have food available, perhaps for guests - hide it. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a powerful technique. 

5. Get support from others. Most dieters who have kept their weight off for longer than a year have found support to sustain their motivation. Having a community of support (many apps now have on-line support systems built into them) is key towards long lasting success.

Vera Tarman

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
Vera Tarman photo

Vera Tarman

Vera Tarman, MD, MSc, FCFP, ABAM, is a specialist in addiction medicine. She is the medical director of Renascent, an addictions treatment centre. Vera lives in Toronto.