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How to Change Your Eating Habits




  1. My husband works a swing shift. Does the digestive system work on the same internal clock that the body has? Answer
  2. I dislike most vegetables. Most calorie cutting menus suggest lots of vegetables. I am looking for an alternative. Answer
  3. Where can I find a dietitian who could go thruough my kitchen cabinets and help me change my bad eating habits? Answer
  4. Do you have software available for use in a preventive and internal medicine clinic? Answer
  5. Who coined this phrase: "Eat to live not live to eat"? Answer
  6. How many American adults go on a diet each year? Answer
  7. I am extremely obese for my size, but what worries me is that my eating habits are going to reflect on my children. How do we change our lifestyle? Answer
  8. How do I stop craving sweets when I smell them like chocolate and my mouth waters? Answer
  9. How about peanut butter once a day for breakfast on toast before going to work? Answer


  10. Everywhere I turn people and the media are telling me that everything I eat is bad for me. Answer
  11. Could you analyze my diet? Answer
  12. I'm also trying to eat healthier, but I find it difficult to do this because I am on 2 meals a day dining plan. Do you have any suggestions? Answer
  13. I eat so terribly. Should I consult a nutritionist or is it a dietitian? Answer
  14. All my life I have suffered from excessive tiredness after eating. If you can throw any light on this, I would be very grateful. Answer
  15. What should be the heaviest meal of the day? Answer
  16. What are some hints for helping someone in your family stay on a diet? Answer
  17. Every morning for coffee break, I have a candy bar and a can of cola type soft drink. Do you have any suggestions to help me break this daily routine? Answer
  18. I cut little pieces off bars and sweets. What can I do? Answer
  19. I can't get my husband to lose weight. Can you suggest a way I can get him to lose 20 pounds? Answer


My husband works a swing shift and has dinner / lunch at 7:00 P.M. and is home at 11:30 P.M. So his schedule is not the normal time. Family and friends say that he should not eat late at night because the body stops digesting food at 7:00 P.M. Does the digestive system work on the same internal clock that the body has?

People should eat meals based on their wake / sleep cycle. If your husband works 3 to 11, then his dinner may be eaten after 11 P.M. assuming he stays up for another 4 hours. If he goes to bed shortly after arriving home at 11:30 P.M., then his 7 P.M. or noon meal should be his dinner. Your husband should eat two other meals before he goes to work, one after waking up and one before he goes to work.

There is nothing magical about stopping eating before 7 P.M. because it's the calories you eat minus the calories you expend in activities that determines your weight. That said people who eat after their evening meal can consume excess calories that leads to weight gain. If you eat after your evening meal, you should ask yourself whether you are truly hungry or just bored and sleepy. Late night eating is associated with higher calories, salt and sugar foods. People who suffer from gastric reflux disease (GERD) after laying down to sleep should sit or stand rather than lay down for 2 hours after eating. Night eating can be associated with mild depression, low-self esteem, reduced daytime hunger and less weight loss in people who are already obese. People who eat breakfast are less likely to eat at night.

Your body digests any food eaten whenever it is eaten. When food enters your mouth, digestive enzymes are stimulated in your mouth and stomach. It doesn't matter what time you eat even the smell of food stimulates the production of digestive juices in your mouth. Can you imagine what would happen if your body stopped digesting food? You could get seriously plugged up.


I have a quick question and I am hoping that you may have a suggestion. I am 5 pounds over the "healthy weight" calculated by another website. However, based on how my body looks it is more like 10 15 pounds.

I will cut to the chase. I dislike most vegetables. I like corn, squash, lettuce, uncooked carrots, cucumbers, uncooked peppers and uncooked onions. That's pretty much it. Most calorie cutting menus suggest lots of vegetables. I am looking for an alternative since although I will purchase the vegetables with every intention of eating them. I just never eat them! You may have guessed I am a big digger of bread and pasta! Any ideas?

At least the vegetables you chose are good sources of vitamin A, C, K and have some anti-cancer properties. You do need to broaden your vegetable preferences and you seem to like some vegetables raw rather than cooked. Most vegetables have a milder taste raw rather than cooked unless the vegetable needs to be cooked before eaten like corn and squash. Be adventurous and try a new veggie every couple days. You may have to try new recipes that include different vegetables before you can try them plain. For instance, have you ever tried creamed spinach or spinach souffle? Both have the great nutrients found in spinach, but softens the taste of plain spinach for first time tasters. Toss some raw spinach leaves into a salad. Have you thought of juicing vegetables with some fruit?

Try my Healthy Body Calculator which puts it all together for you including gradual weight loss. On the results page, HBC will tell you how many calories to eat to reach your goal as well as a healthy weight for your height.


Where can I find a dietitian who could go through my kitchen cabinets and help me change my bad eating habits?

Click on the "Find a registered dietitian" link at the American Dietetic Association on any page. Include your zip code or city / state, the type of service you want (individual consultation) and expertise in healthy eating / meal planning or general nutrition / wellness. A dietitian could review your food records and educate you about healthier food choices when grocery shopping. They will meet clients in their homes and do kitchen makeovers. Dietitians often have their own private practice nutrition counseling services in addition to services provided in a clinic or hospital.


Do you have software available for use in a preventive and internal medicine clinic?

No I don't sell nutrition software. The best professional nutrition analysis software is developed for dietitians. When you purchase nutrition software, make sure a dietitian was involved in development as many programs I have reviewed don't use algorithms used in nutrition practice or supported by published research. Some don't appropriately calculate caloric needs and expenditures correctly either.

Why not hire a dietitian to provide nutrition therapy for your patients? Nutrition therapy for diabetes and kidney disease is covered by third party reimbursement i.e. health insurance, Medicare / Medicaid.


I am a graduate student at Eastern Kentucky University. I am working towards my master's in Community Nutrition. I am looking for the answer for who coined this phrase: "Eat to live not live to eat". Please help me if you can. Thank you.

Socrates (469 to 399 BC) said "Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat." Also the phrase "One should eat to live, not live to eat" is attributed to Molière (1622-73), French dramatist. Valère, in The Miser, act 3, sceen 1. Hope this helps.


Could you please tell me the approximate number or percentage of American adults who go on a diet each year? Thank you.

According to NPD Group's (market research company) "National Eating Trends" 2008, 70% of Americans are eating lower fat foods and over 50% are eating "reduced calorie, whole grain or fortified foods". Increased food choices are "diet, low cholesterol, reduced sodium, caffeine-free, sugar-free, fortified, organic, and low carb" foods. The good news is that fewer Americans are "dieting" and more are interested in making "healthier food choices". More consumers are looking to add "whole grains, dietary fiber, omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and probiotics" according to NPD. Rather than restricting foods, most Americans are more interested in adding healthy foods which trumps saving money.


I would like to first thank you for developing Healthy Body Calculator. I think it's great way of giving a clear picture of what my health levels are.

I know that I am extremely obese for my size, but what worries me even more that my eating habits are going to reflect on my children. I originally came from Europe where cooking high fat foods are the standards. Even though my children are perfectly proportioned; they already have slightly increased cholesterol levels. When I lived in Europe walking is a way of transportation for your daily activities. Therefore, even though I never had to exercise per say, I was always fit. After we got married and I had my children I decided to go back to college and continue my education. It took up so much of my time that between raising my children and school I had no personal time to maintain my fitness.

I also had a back injury in 1985 that is still part of my life. In addition to that I was born with a hip disability that they operated on when I was only 4 and limited my hip movement ability. I have been trying numerous diets and exercise programs, but I had always failed. It is totally frustrating to know that I accomplished so much in my life, but that something that should be so simple and natural as healthy eating and living, I can not even begin to master. I am totally confused as to what to do. I would like to change the life style of my family, but I just don't know how. I don't know what to cook and how to cook to make everyone still eat, but eat healthy. I also have a great time restraint on my hands when the meals got to be quick (most of the time that is when pizza and McDonald's come in).

Please let me know if you can help me find a way to learn how to change our lifestyle. I am totally desperate. I love my children and my husband so very much and I am afraid that these unhealthy habits will cause them harm. Thank you for your time to read this letter.

You're welcome. If you chose to lose 1 or 2 pounds per week, use the Healthy Body Calculator Your Nutrition Facts calories and fat grams to guide you in making healthy food choices.

Healthy eating takes time management and effort to change your food habits and exercise regularly. Your children will follow your healthy role modeling even if you only make dinner and buy the food.

You're probably doing better than you think. Healthy cooking starts with changing the types of fats / oils you buy reducing the fat and sugar in recipes. Use your regular recipes, but start out by cutting the fat in half. If a recipe calls for cream, use evaporated skim milk. If a recipe calls for a whole egg, use 2 egg whites. You may want to check out some reduced fat cookbooks at your local library or bookstore to get some ideas on how to reduce the fat from your regular recipes.

Pizza doesn't have to be high fat if you make your own starting with a prepared crust that is not cheese filled. Use Canadian bacon or ham instead of pepperoni or sausage. Use low fat mozzarella cheese on top. Also, olives contain mostly fat and though it is the good kind of fat, it still contributes extra calories. A vegetarian pizza with Canadian bacon or ham and no extra cheese is a lower fat alternative to order for delivery.

Fast food doesn't have to be a high fat alternative. Select burgers with lettuce and tomato, but without added bacon or special sauces. If you drink 3 cups of milk a day, you don't need cheese on top of your burger as 1 ounce of American cheese has less calcium (155 milligrams) than 1 cup of low fat milk (290 milligrams), but with an extra 6 grams of fat. Choose broiled chicken rather than breaded and fried. Add a fresh salad (don't add croutons, bacon bits and cheese toppings) and low fat milk instead of French fries and a soda.

Next, serve yourself smaller portions. Have you read my eating habits FAQs? If you need assistance with reducing the fat in your recipes and menus, contact a dietitian.


How do I stop craving sweets when I smell them like chocolate and my mouth waters?

Here are some suggestions:
  1. Have a healthy eating plan. This helps guide what you are going to eat and plan to eat 3 meals or at least every 4 hours. Anticipate hunger by eating regularly.
  2. Make eating purposeful. Eat meals sitting at a table with silverware. Keep a food journal where you write down everything you eat.
  3. Reduce visual cues for sweets you crave. Put sweets and desserts out of sight in a cupboard or in your desk. This helps reduce mindless eating by reducing cues to eat especially when you are doing something else. Better yet don't buy sweets you crave when shopping otherwise you will eat them within 24 hours.


How about peanut butter once a day for breakfast on toast before going to work? It gives me great energy.

Weight 155 lbs., height 5'7".

Peanut butter on toast is better than just plain toast or buttered toast and will keep you satisfied longer. Two tablespoons of peanut butter has the protein equivalent to an egg or 1 ounce of meat. Old-fashioned peanut butter would be better because it doesn't have hydrogenated vegetable oil that is added to some brand name peanut butters. Read food labels for this ingredient. Peanut butter only needs peanuts with optional salt. The purpose for adding hydrogenated vegetable oil to peanut butter is it makes it easier to spread and keeps the peanut oil from separating out. If you keep the old fashioned type it in the refrigerator, the oil won't separate out, but spreading is a little stiff. You may also have to periodically turn the jar upside down to keep the peanut oil evenly distributed though some brands are homogenized.

Homogenized means breaking the fat particles up into small uniform pieces so they are unlikely to separate out. Milk and salad dressings are the most commonly homogenized food products otherwise cream or oil would float to the top of the bottle.

Peanut oil is a monounsaturated fat like olive oil and a very good type of fat to eat. Don't know if anyone has measured trans fatty acids levels in hydrogenated vegetable oil food products other than margarine. The FDA is considering requiring the trans fatty acid content on food labels.

BTW, anything you would eat at breakfast would give you energy to do work and the more you eat at breakfast (300 - 500 calories), will provide you with more energy aka calories which is the fuel your body runs on.


Hello. I just got through reading your very informative web page! Nice job.

I have question that I'm sure you can answer. Lately everywhere I turn people and the media are telling me that everything that I eat is bad for me! From sugar is poison, to fat is bad, to that chocolate bar I had yesterday is going to kill me eventually.

I on the other hand think I have done pretty well with a nice balance. I abide by the philosophy "everything in moderation". I've realized that when my body has a craving its trying to tell me something! So if I want to have that slice of cake, I do simply because I don't have it everyday and I'm not going to eat the entire cake! Generally my habits are good with a few backslide now and them. In the warmer months I eat several times a day perhaps from 4-5 small "munchie" meals. In the colder months, well I tend to slack and eat 2-3 times a day often forgoing a morning meal and generally eating around noon and then two more times later in the day. I don't count my calories but I eat a lot of vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini), The main meat in my diet is chicken which I either stir fry in corn oil or bake (The fry on rare occasions). I eat pasta once or twice a week, I have potatoes, breads and cereals about three- four times a week. I drink 2% milk and a quart last me 1-1/2 weeks. I eat eggs very rarely (less than 1 a month) UNLESS I've used it in a baking product. I also eat tuna or some kind of fish at least once a month. My red meat intake is rather low. I cook it for myself perhaps once a month unless I indulge and have a Big Mac at McDonalds (along with that order of fries). I drink about 3-4 glasses of water a day and generally mix in fruit drinks and soda throughout the week. As far as caffeine goes I rarely drink coffee and have tea once in a while (perhaps 4 times a month) I try to stick to healthy snacks like fruit, and unprocessed nuts. But I do eat sugary cereals when i do have a quick breakfast. And I indulge in chocolates and chips when I get the urge. I also rarely put salt on my food. I'm female, 24, 5'8", 135lbs, with a smaller than average frame for my height. During daily activities, I probably walk about 1 mile a day carrying a ten -15 pound load (I'm a college student...books you know) and my job is mainly sedentary sitting at a computer. But I have another job where I'm on my feet for 20 hours a week. I have been exercising for about three months for 4 hours a week. I maintain my weight between 130-140lbs. I weigh on the higher end in the winter and the lower end in the summer. In all the check ups I've been on my cholesterol has never been an issue. Tell me, if I seem to be doing well on my eating habits as they are now do I really need to be concerned? If I'm hungry I eat. When I'm full i don't. I feel I've achieved the perfect balance for my body and never deprive myself of what I want, but i never allow myself to overindulge for any length of time. If I'm using margarine is there any good reason why I can't have some real cheese? I think I've found the omnivorous diet that suits me. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. I'm tired of biting into a hot dog and having a lacto- ovo- telling me I'm shaving years off my life expectancy with every bite. Thank you!

It is confusing reading / watching conflicting messages in various print and visual media which often takes a degree in nutrition to sort through. First, few foods like polar bear liver can kill you and moderation in all foods is a healthy goal. There is no bad food and sugar is not poison. Some foods are more healthy to eat more often (i.e. lower fat, more fruits, vegetables and grains). It is the quantity of unhealthy foods (i.e. high fat, high calorie) that is a bigger problem. This perspective though must be tempered by maintaining a healthy weight and daily exercise program.

What you describe is fine and my concerns are:
your low consumption of foods high in calcium (low fat milk and cheese);
unprocessed nuts;
increased variety of meats.
Depending on the dairy products you are consuming, 1 quart of 2% milk in 1 or 1 1/2 weeks is just not enough to provide you with adequate calcium. You must not use much on the cereals you eat. You should be drinking 1 quart in 2 days. Since you are 24, your body is nearing its peak bone density of age 25 in females. After 25, you need to maintain calcium levels in your bones with calcium rich foods, vitamin D, fluoride and exercise. Without these components, calcium leaves your bones to maintain blood levels of calcium.to help muscles contract. So, keep your calcium bank (bones) rich by eating foods rich in calcium, vitamin D and fluoride along with daily exercise that puts pressure on your bones. Congrats on your exercise routine!

What do you mean by unprocessed nuts? Hopefully you are not eating raw peanuts which contain a very potent carcinogen which is not found in the roasted or processed peanut.

While chicken is a good low fat food if you don't fry it or eat the skin, you need more meat variety in your food choices. Try turkey, fish more often than once a month and lean beef or pork.

FYI, food cravings are not necessarily stimulated by your body's physical need for a nutrient. Some research has shown that women in the week before their menstrual period starts, increase their consumption of sweets like chocolate and desserts.

Both your winter and summer weights are in a healthy range for your height.

As to whether or not to eat cheese because you eat margarine, I would suggest you read the recent info on trans fatty acids in stick margarine. You may want to switch to a trans fatty acid free stick margarine or switch to a tub margarine. There are lots of low fat cheeses available in the grocery store and would be a calcium rich food to add especially since you don't drink much milk.

It is true that life expectancy is increased by living at a high altitude, staying active in your profession late in life, drinking a small amount of alcohol daily and eating a vegetarian diet. However, if you occasionally eat low fat or even regular hot dogs, I doubt that you are "shaving years off your life expectancy with every bite".

Thanks for the feedback.


Hi, I'm 18 years old. I wanted to write you and ask if you could analyze my diet. Nothing to technical, just a straight up "your eating healthy kid or you need to read up kid".

Meal 1: 6:50 A.M.

3 egg whites
1/2 cup of brown rice
1/2 diced tomato
1/3 stock of broccoli
1 clove of garlic
1 Siberian ginseng supplement
1 multi vitamin/mineral supplement
1 glass of milk

Meal 2:
1 can of tuna
1 medium baked potato
1/3 stock of broccoli
1/2 diced red pepper
1 Siberian ginseng supplement
1 clove of garlic
1 glass of orange juice

Meal 3:
steamed chicken/lean pork
1/2 cup of pasta
1/3 stock of broccoli
1/2 diced tomato
1 Siberian ginseng supplement
1 clove of garlic
1 glass of milk

Meal 4:
3 egg whites
1 medium baked potato / 1/2 cup of brown rice / 1 beagle
1/3 stock of broccoli
1/2 red pepper
1/3 cup of corn
1 clove garlic

Snacks during the day:
Banana
apple

Well there's my average food menu for the day.. If you think I'm missing out on anything please let me know. I was thinking of adding some beans and soy products to my diet. Again I know your busy, just a short answer will be satisfactory for me. Have a nice day.

A Registered Dietitian could analyze your food intake, including supplements.

Since I don't know the content of the supplements you take, I will respond generally. If the egg whites are eaten raw, you can destroy the nutrient biotin. (Read protein and sports nutrition topics and search for biotin.) What's with eating garlic and broccoli with each meal? You don't say what kind of milk you drink, but if you are at a healthy weight, either 2%, 1% or skim would be OK. You don't say how many ounces of tuna, chicken or pork you eat, but you may be low in iron unless you eat red meats, iron fortified cereals or iron rich vegetables. Would suggest you try more variety in your choice of foods (beans and soy foods would be good) which would provide a greater array of nutrients especially trace minerals.




I am a college freshman and I recently started working out a few times a week. I'm also trying to eat healthier, but I find it difficult to do this because I am on 2 meals a day dining plan. So, I usually skip breakfast and have a large lunch and dinner. I may have an afternoon or midnight snack. I know I should be having more, smaller meals throughout the day, but that is not possible when on a meal plan. Do you have any suggestions?

Also, what are some healthy options in a school cafeteria? I'm bored of turkey sandwiches, salads and cereal!

I also have another question--my normal heart rate at rest is about 80 beats per minute. Is this really unhealthy for my age (I weigh 120 lb.)?

If you were going to pick 2 meals to eat, I would suggest breakfast and an evening meal. Eat something for breakfast as studies have found that students that eat breakfast, stay awake in school and get better grades. Depending on when you can eat breakfast, you can grab something in the student union at noon or eat an earlier dinner. You can always choose a fruit or starch like bread with your meal and keep it to snack on between meals. Your not eating breakfast is probably the reason behind your midnight snacking too.

Healthy food choices are any food that isn't high in fat (fried) or sugars (sweets). Eat enough food to fill you up, but stop eating when you are full. You may notice that you pause while eating and use this break to determine if you are full. Choose a variety of foods at each meal from various food groups (meat, milk, breads, vegetables and fruits). Check out the Food Guide Pyramid topic for more on this.

As to your heart rate, I would suggest you call your student health service and ask to talk to a doctor or nurse practitioner. Ask your doctor next time that you are home. Generally, students sit around a lot and may not get a lot of exercise. Sometimes this can result in a higher resting heart rate. I would bet that if you continue working out on a regular basis (3 to 5 times per week) that your heart rate will drop.

How are you taking your heart rate? Best time is when you are resting unless you are checking for your target heart rate while exercising. Using your index or middle finger, place your finger on the inside of your other wrist, next to your wrist bone. You can count heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 or count for a full minute to get your heart rate. Don't use your thumb as it has a pulse.


I will try to be succinct. I am of average weight and love to exercise. My problem is that I eat so terribly. An example of my eating habits:

7 Am 2 cups decaf coffee

10 Am 1 cup decaf coffee and yogurt

12 PM 1 cup pasta with a diet coke

3 PM chocolate, chips or pretzels, any junk

evening cookies, crackers, cheese, snacks

Once in a while I'll make microwave nachos, eat pizza or tomato soup. I know that I have to eat better, but I'm so picky. I tried to narrow down all the foods that I enjoy and build a diet around this, but it comes down to chocolate, tomatoes and cheese. It's ridiculous. Should I consult a nutritionist or is it a dietitian? Thanks.

You have narrowed your food choices down to so few foods that you are missing many nutrients. Yew, I would suggest you go see a dietitian who can assist you with a meal plan that includes your likes and is nutritionally complete.

I would suggest a dietitian. A dietitian has at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition, completed an internship / work experience and passed a nationally certifying exam by the American Dietetic Association. Dietitians are also required to take continuing education courses to continue their national registration. A nutritionist usually has a Master's degree in Nutrition, but may not be a member of the American Dietetic Association. Unfortunately, many persons with an interest, but no formal nutrition education often call themselves nutritionists.




All my life (52 years) I have suffered from excessive tiredness after eating which has been a real nuisance especially in my job. I believe it is something to do with eating bread as sandwiches, toast, etc. seem to have the worst effect. Other carbohydrates, e.g. potatoes, seem to have much less effect. However, it is all very variable as I have good days and bad days. I am a light sleeper and I have a feeling that it is also something to do with the success of my previous nights sleep as often the good and bad days alternate.

I have thought about blood sugar and have tried glucose tablets, but these don't have any significant effect. I am not diabetic. I appreciate that it is normal to feel tired after a meal, but I am much worse than other people.

If you can throw any light on this I would be very grateful.

Large meals, carbohydrates and an amino acid tryptophan induce sleep. After a large meal, blood pools in the gastrointestinal tract to pick up the nutrients from the meal. Excess carbohydrates work the same by increasing blood sugar levels. (Aside - some new research does show that about 50 gm of glucose - about 10 teaspoons which can be found in 12 oz soda- can improve memory in rats, but 100 grams or 25 grams have little effect on memory.) Turkey is high in tryptophan. No wonder most people feel sleepy after a large Thanksgiving meal. Do you eat turkey sandwiches? When you eat potatoes, is it with meat which is a good source of protein that will keep you awake?

I would suggest you switch what you eat at work to less carbohydrate and more protein and leave the higher carbohydrate foods (bread, grains, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas and lima beans, fruit, milk) to the evening when you want to go to sleep. During the day, lean towards the lower fat protein sources like meat, fish, chicken, low fat cheese, legumes (especially soybeans) and beans. Also, try smaller meals more often to lessen the effect large meals have on your level of awakeness.

If you have problems falling asleep at night, avoid all caffeine - containing foods for 10 hours beforehand. The caffeine effect lasts at least 10 hours. Foods that contain caffeine in addition to coffee and tea are cola containing beverages (Coke, Pepsi, Jolt, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, Mellow Yellow, Big Red, Aspen, Kick) and beverages or foods containing chocolate or cocoa.

Alcohol will cause sleep disturbances even though initially you may feel sleepy after a drink. So eliminate alcohol and see if your sleep pattern improves.


What should be the heaviest meal of the day? Lunch or dinner?

Physiologically, it doesn't matter what time of day is your heaviest meal. Actually, your body does better with 6 smaller meals per day. A heavy meal, may put you to sleep, especially if it is high in carbohydrate.


My wife has tried to lose weight ever since the birth of our first child. What are some hints for helping someone in your family stay on a diet? I've tried paying her money for each pound lost or buying her new skinny clothes. Neither worked.

If someone in your house is on a weight reducing diet, there are several things you can do to help. These suggestions are called behavior modification techniques because the suggestions focus on the eating behavior, not the food. Be supportive of the dieter and point out their successes. Don't nag, threaten, bribe or try to force the dieter to stick to the diet. It is negative reinforcement which causes the dieter more guilt and shame. Also, they tend to eat more in secret. No one likes to feel bad about her or himself.

Clean up your home food environment. Don't wait to eat up what you already have in your house, give it away or throw it away. Get rid of sweets and salty snacks. If you don't buy it or bake it, food has a hard time finding its way into your mouth.

Go along with eliminating salted snack foods, sweets and desserts from your house and shopping lists. Don't be selfish and insist you still want the dieter to bake for you. Praise the dieter for cooking lower calorie meals.

When a dieter starts losing weight, other members of a household can become threatened by the dieter's new body image. This is especially true because the dieter becomes more attractive as weight is lost. At this point, the non-dieter will start offering sweets to the dieter. This is subversive to the dieter by sending two messages. "I think you should lose weight, but not too much because I am threatened with losing you." The dieter is confused about the double message and will often feel anger toward the non-dieter. This should be talked out between dieter and non-dieter and resolved to a supportive food atmosphere.

If the dieter finds that some habits are hard to change, such as vending machine or coffee break habits, a change of route to avoid going by the vending machine should help. Bring an alternative snack for coffee breaks. Physically avoid the kitchen when your appetite tells you to eat, but you are not hungry.

When tired, stressed, bored, angry, lonely or frustrated, choose an alternative to eating. Ahead of time, make a list of things you enjoy or would like to do. Don't choose something you don't like. When your mood shifts to eating, choose one alternative activity instead of eating.

Try to assess your degree of hunger. Ask yourself, are you hungry or are you eating for other reasons? Hunger symptoms include a growly, empty feeling in your stomach. Other symptoms are your blood sugar may be low and you may feel weak and shaky. If you assess that you are hungry, eat until you feel the sensation of fullness and then stop eating. If you are eating for other reasons, try doing something else for 10 minutes. Physically remove yourself from the sight or smell of food. Later, you will find that you forgot to eat.

Train yourself to sense what full feels like. A lot of overweight persons eat right over the feeling of fullness because they are eating so fast or have waited until they are over hungry to eat. The sensation of fullness is when you may stop or pause eating. Your stomach feels full, almost like you need to burp. When you feel like this, stop eating, push your plate away or ask to have your plate removed and walk away from the table.

Eat more slowly. Breakfast should take about 20 minutes, lunch and supper 30 to 40 minutes to eat. It takes 20 minutes for a message to get from your stomach to your brain that you are full. If you eat fast, you can easily overeat in 20 minutes.

Research has proven that if you eat soup as the first course to a meal, you will eat fewer calories at that meal. Choose broth based soups because they are lower in fat and calories than cream based soups.

Sit down at the table whenever you eat. Don't eat standing in front of the stove, refrigerator or sink. If you don't have enough time to sit down at a table with a plate, knife and fork, you don't have enough time to eat. Also, don't eat while watching television.

Chew slowly. Savor your food and put your fork down between bites. The first phase of digestion starts with the chewing and mixing with saliva in your mouth. You are more likely to choke on a large piece of food that is swallowed without enough chewing. Some of the satisfaction from eating is achieved by chewing food longer.

Drink liquids, preferable water or skim milk, between forkfuls of food. Stop eating to talk with others at the table. Mealtimes are a good opportunity to socialize.

Train yourself to leave food on your plate. This is probably the hardest for people who grew up in the clean-your-plate club. To change that eating habit, you should start by leaving food on your plate. Notice how normal weight persons usually leave food. When you feel good about leaving food on your plate, start reducing the size of your portion. The end result should be that you serve yourself smaller portions and stop eating when you are full, no matter how much food is left on your plate.

Be the last person at the table to finish eating. Pace yourself during a meal to eat more slowly. If you notice that you are ahead, put down your fork and wait for others to catch up. Eat as slow as the slowest person does at the table.

Most overweight persons fill their plates full. If you have found it difficult to limit your food portions, use a smaller plate. A seven-inch salad plate will help you limit your food intake. If you still feel the urge to "fill your plate", a smaller plate won't hold as much.

The same idea works with beverage glasses. Choose a smaller glass for beverages and fill it just once. Maybe you don't know how many ounces fill your favorite glass. Fill your favorite beverage glass to the level you usually do. Pour the water from your beverage glass into a large glass-measuring cup. Look at the ounce measure on the side of the measuring cup. This will tell you how many ounces fill your beverage glass. Eight ounces is one cup. To limit calorie containing beverages, use an eight ounce glass for beverages and fill the glass just once.

Decide what you are going to eat before you go out so that you are not influenced by what others order or what you see. When served your main entree, cut your portion size and move the rest of the food to the side of your plate. If you don't know what an appropriate portion size is, look at the back of your hand. A piece of meat that would stretch from where your wrist bends up to your knuckles at the base of your fingers and as thick as your little finger is wide, would be three to four ounces depending on the size of your hand. When you are finished with your portion, ask the waiter/waitress to remove your plate so that you will not restart eating. Also, when eating at buffets or private homes, limit yourself to one serving. Take an appropriate first serving and eliminate additional servings.

Go grocery shopping after you've eaten a meal. Bring a shopping list and stick to it. Don't walk down aisles with carbonated beverages, chips or candy in them. Don't buy anything unless it is on your list and don't put salty snacks or sweets on your list.

Food manufacturers and grocers know where to place food on shelves for the best sales volume. For instance, take a look at the positioning of cold cereals in your local grocery store. The high sugar cereals are on the lower and middle shelves. This is just about the right height for a toddler in a cart or child. The high fiber cereals are on the top shelves for adult's best viewpoint. Also, food displays at the end of aisles and at the check out counter are not placed there for your convenience because you may have forgot to pick up that very food in another aisle. Food displays are put there because they are higher trafficked areas in the store. You are a captive shopper when waiting in check out lines. Where are the basic foods like fruits and vegetables, meats, bread and dairy products placed in most grocery stores? Usually these foods line the outside aisles and back of the store. This physically drags you through the store, distracts you and entices you to make impulsive purchases.

When visiting a food pusher's house say no to inappropriate food or beverages and stick to it. Don't get drawn into the argument that you should have just a small piece or that you have insulted their hospitality. If you have to offer a reason, tell them that you are on a special diet or are allergic to the food.

If you blow your diet by eating an inappropriate food, acknowledge it and get on with your diet plan. Don't hit yourself over the head with guilt and shame. Say to yourself, "OK, I ate it, but that is not more important than the efforts I have made so far." Immediately no matter what day of the week or hour it is, resume your diet plan. Don't dwell on negative experiences.

Eating habits are formed, not inherited from your parents. They can be changed through practice. The more often you repeat a new habit, the more likely, it is going to replace your old habit. New habits also become easier with time.


Every morning for coffee break, I have a candy bar and a can of cola type soft drink. There are only vending machines in our office and we have to stay in our department for breaks. Do you have any suggestions to help me break this daily routine?

Eating habits are just that - a habit of eating. You are in the habit of getting a candy bar and a can of pop at the vending machines. If they are in your view and convenient, you will have to provide yourself with alternative snacks. To begin with, bring a more appropriate snack such as fresh fruit, a small can of juice, raw veggies or popcorn.

Substitute snacks that you can eat out of hand without making a mess. Stick to fruit that is in season. With vegetables, clean a large quantity ahead of time at home and put them in plastic bags in the refrigerator.

Another appropriate snack to eat that is low in calories is popcorn. Don't pick the microwave kind from the vending machines that someone else decided for you how much oil, what kind of oil and salt the popcorn has. Pop the corn at home and bring it with you. Three cups of unbuttered popped corn (about one cereal bowl full) is equal to a piece of bread with one teaspoon of margarine on it, assuming you cooked it in oil. If you popped the corn in an air popper, three cups is equal to eating a piece of bread. At home, you can limit the amount of salt you put on the popcorn as well.

To switch to a lower calorie beverage, try mineral water, fruit juice or diet pops. Check out the vending machine. If your machine doesn't have bottled water or juice in it, ask to have them put in the machine. Another alternative is to bring your own beverage to work.

Be sure to vary your snacks, otherwise you will be bored and revert to your candy/soft drink habit. Don't test yourself by completely eliminating a snack.

With the vending machines staring you in the face, saying "eat me" and your test of "willpower" may prompt you to fail. Instead, put yourself in a positive atmosphere by providing appropriate snacks so that you are more likely to succeed. If you find yourself all of sudden in front of the vending machine and your hand on the button, ready to push, you can still press the coin return. Don't be disappointed in yourself if this happens, one slip does not mean that you are back to your old habits.


I cut little pieces off bars and sweets. I feel like I'm not really eating as much, but I know I end up eating a lot. It bugs my mom. What can I do?

You realize that you do have a problem and that is a good start. I would suggest you learn some behavior modification techniques to help you change your eating habits.

You are correct in assuming you eat more when cutting off little pieces of food. But there is more to it. A lot of people deny they are eating much when eating small pieces. Also, this eating behavior may happen more often when you are bored, angry, tired, frustrated or just because food is easily available and it's socially acceptable. To just depend on "will power" within that same food atmosphere, would not help.

You stated that it bugs your mom, but you didn't say how you feel. Most people feel guilty about eating "forbidden foods" such as cakes, cookies and sweets. Because they feel bad after the first piece, they eat more because eating is pleasurable and gives comfort. They express the attitude of "Well, as long as I had one piece, I might as well have more because I blew my diet anyway. I'll just start my diet again tomorrow."

The most successful long term changes in eating habits result from using behavior modification techniques. First, you need to know what environmental and mental factors cause your current eating habit. Is food placed in your kitchen in your sight and reach? What time of day are you more likely to eat little pieces of food? What room are you in when eating? Are you standing, sitting or lying down? Are you alone? Does your eating accompany another activity like watching television? What is your mood? Are you actually feeling hungry or are you eating for other reasons?

The answers to these questions would help you identify the environment in which you eat inappropriately. This record would also reveal your other food habits. Once identified, you can change your food environment to change your eating habits. A dietitian would be able to give you meaningful suggestions in steps to achieve a change. Also, alternative activities need to be planned by you so that when you are tired or frustrated, you can do something other than eat.


I can't get my husband to lose weight. He's 6' and 220 pounds. His doctor has told him to lose some weight, but he just keeps stuffing his face. I've tried many approaches from nagging to being supportive and none have worked. Can you suggest a way I can get him to lose 20 pounds?

The old saying of "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" is so true for would be dieters and their families.

You cannot force, threaten, intimidate or in any other way make another person lose weight. Any of these methods only make the dieter feel guiltier and want to become more secretive about their eating.

Provide the most positive support you can give in terms of encouragement, with no laying on of guilt when he doesn't live up your expectations. Limit your food purchases to only allowed or appropriate foods and remove any inappropriate foods from your kitchen and freezer. There is nothing more difficult than watching someone else have what you cannot have, especially food. Or watching a pan of bars sitting on the counter daring you to eat one.

Also, let your husband assume responsibility for his food intake at mealtime. Don't comment on the size of his portions or give looks like "Don't you dare eat more!" If you cook the meals, you can cut down the quantity of food served. The old adage of "clean your plate" is not healthy and can lead to excess weight. No one should be encouraged to eat the last spoonful either. Don't be a food pusher.

Furthermore, suggest some healthful exercise such as a daily or frequent walk together. Start with a 15-minute daily walk and increase the length by fifteen minutes each week to about 60 minutes per day. Not only would the exercise provide him with calorie expenditure, but also a time for you both to talk without a house full of distractions.

Finally, the most successful weight loss program is built on consistency and permanent change in eating and health habits. You men out there, these support suggestions also apply toward dieting women!






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