The minute you tell yourself certain foods are off limits, the more you’ll crave them. ‘Hearing “can’t” dares a person to find a workaround,’ says Professor Brian Wansink, author of Slim By Design (£12.99, Hay House). ‘It’s a basic psychological theory called reactance – telling someone ‘no’ just makes them want it more.’ Try this…
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RATE YOUR HUNGER
Instead of banning or demonising foods in your diet, listen to your body and eat what you need. If you tune in to your hunger, maybe rating it on a scale of 1-10 before you decide whether to eat, you’ll become less likely to snack without thinking. If you choose to go ahead and eat the food you crave, don’t feel guilty and wolf it down quickly. Instead, sit down, enjoy it and pay attention to the flavours and textures.
2 MAKE MORE CONSCIOUS CHOICES
If you struggle with the above, the Alexander Technique (AT) can help you adopt a heightened awareness of your body. ‘In AT we practise “inhibiting” – a concept of learning not to react automatically and too quickly to stimulus,’ explains Brita Forsstrom from the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (alexandertechnique.co.uk). Next time you’re tempted by a sugary snack, don’t respond straight away. Instead, turn your focus to your body, sit tall and think about creating length in your spine and freedom in your neck. By consciously switching your attention to your posture and your body, you will have space to choose how to respond consciously, rather than using a knee-jerk reaction. Maybe you’ll discover that you don’t need a treat after all, or perhaps you are actually thirsty or hungry for some proper food.
3 USE THE HALF PLATE RULE
It’s important to eat foods you fancy, and equally important to make the healthy stuff convenient and attractive. Professor Wansink’s half-plate rule is to fill half your plate with fruit, vegetables or salad and the other half with anything you want. You can go back for more, just as long as you still fill half the plate with the fruit, veg or salad. ‘Giving people freedom – a licence to eat with one simple guideline – seems to keep habits in check,’ he says. ‘There’s nothing to rebel against, resist or work around. As a result, your mind won’t even try and you’re less likely to overeat, too.’
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