Ah-ha! If you are reading this article, it means you are trying to outsmart your brain into a slimmer you. There’s no denying that it is a funny thing — how our brain works. How can something so powerful as the mastermind to our every thought and move be so rigid to change?
Have you ever come, fought and lost the fight against temptation before? It could be something as simple as resisting the urge to check your phone at work or getting to sleep without any of those wandering thoughts. If you are trying to get to a fitter you, your mind might just be the one holding you back from doing so.
For us humans, our brains have been wired to work in a unique way to seek out reward and deliberately sidestep any pain or discomfort. Thus, any activity that requires us to change our behaviours or thinking patterns will be much harder. To any of us who is trying to radically replace your brain’s primitive directive, it seems the only approach to truly have your way is to come up with new thought patterns that throw your brain off and deviate from how it has been structured to work.
Eating After 8 PM
Listen up! We know how you late-night eaters like to lounge on your couch and dig into a nice bowl of ice cream after your regular meal. But the fact is, there is a fine line between late-night eating and late-night binging that not a lot of us can separate. As it is, the act of raiding our kitchen for dinner late into the night feels like a tremendous sin. On the occasions that we do so, our minds tell us that “spoiling ourselves once in a blue moon” is completely all right. If you find yourself reaching for another packet of potato chips to tide you through another half hour on Netflix, you have lost the battle.
We will let you in on a little secret — those late night meals as compared to chow times at other hours of the day do not alter your weight loss plan, since your body digests calories the same throughout the 24 hours. But we are still advising you to cut the late-night snacking out, since your brain feels like it is a guilty treat that can be indulged every once in a while. To beat your brain to the punch, have your meals at regular times of the day, so that there is some form of structure and consistency and you will not feel the temptation creeping up on you to treat yourself.
It’s in the Quantity
For some of us, having a plate overflowing with food at mealtimes might draw out the weirdest of grins (we are speaking from experience). In our head, we might have been unconsciously led to believe that having more on our plate would equate to a happy and filled tummy. But that is far from the truth, since not many people understand what an appropriate amount of a particular food is, as each serving of food could vary in weight and amount. For example, a reasonable portion size of meat should be about the size of your palm, while a portion size of peanut butter should be somewhere around the size of your thumb. The way it is calculated is rather tricky and if you are puzzled, you can always consult a food-counting app on your smartphone to determine how much of a particular food is the right amount.
A way that we can trick our brains into thinking that we have had our fill at the end of our meal is to pile up our plates with foods that have a much larger serving size. Vegetables are often the easiest, since the portion size of green leafy vegetables is somewhere around a full cup. When we observe how much space these greens take up on our plate, our mind is deceived into believing that we are having a large meal. Piling a ton of meat on the other hand, might lead to a happy tummy, but that would just bring about an unhealthy heart as well.
Ordering When You’re Hungry
Anyone who has ever been to the brink of hunger would very easily attest to their ability of wolfing down everything they order at a restaurant, even if it is ordering one of everything that is on the menu. When we are hungry and ready to satisfy that sensation, the chances of us over-ordering is much much higher, thereby, hiking up the number of calories we consume for that meal alone. Most of the times, to relieve ourselves temporarily of our hunger, we open a bag of chips to pacify our tummy before going off to have our usual meal 30 minutes after. Sure, the bag of chips does stop your tummy from churning, but that in itself is added calories that you don’t realise you are dropping on your unwitting body.
If you are firm on making smarter choices when you are hungry, an ingenious act would be to order or prepare your food an hour before your planned mealtime. This helps you think and make your choice in the right frame of mind, without your hunger weighing down on you. A research was recently done that showed how every hour between your lunch order and actual mealtime would save you around 38 calories, while maintaining your post-meal satisfaction. 38 calories might barely make a dent, but even the small victories are worth celebrating about. It could just be that tiny motivation you need to stick to your eating plan.