Added: Thu. Feb 07, 2013 1:13pm
We seem to live in an obesogenic society where food is available—and consumption is promoted—on a 24-hour basis. So how can we possibly eat sensibly and lose weight? I posed this question to Dr. Edward Abramson, psychologist and author of Emotional Eating, Body Intelligence and It's Not Just Baby Fat, in a video interview you can find here.
Dr. Abramson points out that once we leave our home, we are bombarded with stimuli that encourage us to eat, and we have no control over that environment. But he quickly added, "We do have control over our home environment and especially our kitchen."
Because the food in our refrigerator and cupboards reflects the decisions we make in the grocery store, Dr. Abramson starts with tips on how to navigate the buying process. He suggests (1) shopping the perimeter of the store because the outer aisles display fewer processed foods, (2) selecting food from a planned list rather than buying on impulse, (3) shopping alone without pressure from children or a spouse to buy treats or favorites, and (4) purchasing individually portioned packages even though the cost might be higher. For example, purchasing individually packaged ice cream bars instead of a half-gallon tub of ice cream may help individuals limit the size of a serving.
Dr. Abramson might also have advised not to shop on an empty stomach. I've found that my grocery bill can climb by 20 percent if I am shopping while famished, and my choices aren't all that great either.
When you store food in the refrigerator, Dr. Abramson suggests moving tempting foods out of the line of vision and replacing them with healthy snacks, such as fruit and prepped vegetables in clear plastic bags. He also advises storing the most tempting food in foil or opaque containers so that the visual stimuli will not tempt us to eat.
Serving food presents its own challenges. To make smaller portions seem adequate, Dr. Abramson recommends serving the food on a small plate. He also suggests serving food restaurant style; that is, arranging the food on plates in the kitchen so second helping won't be at the table. This practice is particularly important because researchers have found that we eat 92 percent of the food that is in front of us!
In his final recommendations, Dr. Abramson suggests that we sit down at the table, use an attractive place setting and focus on eating during meals. He adds, "Turn off the television, put down the newspaper, don't text and don't read e-mails. Enjoy the basic pleasure of eating by giving it your full attention."
In light of Dr. Abramson's advice, here are three action steps you can take today:
- Remove from your kitchen any foods that undermine your fitness goals. Give the food away or, as a last resort, toss it in the garbage.
- Invest time in creating a basic shopping list of healthful foods that you can revise as needed. Stick to the list when shopping.
- reat each meal as a special occasion. Sit down. Enjoy the food. Savor the flavors and notice the textures. If you're dining with others, enjoy their company. If you're eating alone, set a nice table for yourself.
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