Unsuccessful Dieters: How to Break the Habits (cont.)

So what can you do to home in on your bad eating habits - and change them?

First, says, psychologist Abby Aronowitz, PhD, spend about a week writing down everything in your life that's connected to food.

"This is not just about keeping a 'food diary' - it's really a lifestyle diary, one in which you record everything that has to do with eating," says Aronowitz, author of Your Final Diet.

This includes not only writing down what you ate, but how much you ate, where you were when you ate it, the time of day it was, why you ate it, if you were alone or with someone else, and, most importantly, what else you were doing while you were eating, she says.

Aronowitz says it may also be helpful to note how many of your foods were fresh, frozen, processed, fried, steamed, baked, broiled, take-out, or eaten at a restaurant, and how many you ate "out of the box."

"Eating anything out of a box, without a predetermined portion, can be especially dangerous - before you know it, it's gone, and you haven't even tasted the last few hundred calories!" says Aronowitz.

After one to two weeks of journaling your food habits, you should begin to see a pattern emerge.

"You can not only identify your eating 'triggers,' but also the driving force behind why you may be eating more than you need, and even more than you realize," says Aronowitz.

Your Eating Style

Once you know what your eating style is, Yerardi says, you can take steps to compensate.

"If you know, for example, that an all-you-can-eat buffet means you are going to go eat all that 10 people could eat, go in prepared: Put a time limit on how long you will stay, or on how many dishes you will try, " says Yerardi.

If noshing and nibbling is the only way you can deal with stress, Taylor says, then nosh and nibble on healthy, low-calorie foods.

"Just because you feel the need to eat when you are nervous, doesn't mean you have to eat Boston cream pie," she says. "You can eat a tasty and wholesome snack."

Moreover, all the experts who spoke with WebMD say that if you try to make eating a conscious experience that touches all your senses, you're less likely to overeat. And even if you do, you'll be less likely to punish yourself for it afterward.

"When you are aware of what you eat, and you eat it consciously, at least you have enjoyed it - as compared to eating it unconsciously and not even remembering what it tasted like,' says Taylor.

The motto she suggests to all her weight loss clients: "Confess your food sins - forgive yourself - and move on!"

Published July 28, 2006.


SOURCES: Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, September 2005; Vol 1, Issue 5: pp 342-359. Janice Taylor, director, OurLadyofWeightLoss.com; author, Our Lady of Weight Loss: Miraculous and Motivational Musings from the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal. Linda Yerardi, RD, LD, clinical nutritionist, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, Md. Abby Aronowitz, PhD, director, SelfHelpDirectives.com; author, Your Final Diet.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.