by Kathie England

Better Than Before – Day 6

Before I focus on the foundation for today, Eat and drink right, I want to share one item from yesterday’s foundation, Move, that I forgot. It’s a comment from Michael Lara about sitting. He believes that “sitting is the new smoking” in terms of risk to one’s health.

Now let’s look at Eat and drink right.

Gretchen Rubin points out that few aspects of everyday life are more foundational than eating, yet eating often makes people feel out of control. She says there is a paradox: our brain needs food to manage impulses and yet one of the best ways to avoid impulsive overeating is to eat. She describes that we often eat not out of hunger but because of routine, social influences, and sight or smell of food, and other external triggers. She says that being on a diet actually makes people more sensitive to outside cues.

An interesting fact is that the average meal is eaten in about twelve minutes, yet it takes our body twenty minutes to register a feeling of fullness. (Here’s to savoring each bite to give our body the time to register the feeling of fullness!)

Rubin created two rules for herself about eating: “eat only when hungry” and “no seconds.” These rules became habits for her.

She also says that research suggests skipping meals is a bad idea because being hungry makes it harder to control the impulse to overeat. (This perspective is one discussed by Kelly McGonigal in The Willpower Instinct.)

I’ve created a habit around looking at the sugar content of what I’m eating. Last year I read in the June 2014 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch that the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization’s recommendation is sugar intake for women should be no more that 25 grams of sugar per day. That’s 6 teaspoons.

After reading this article I started looking at the sugar content of the things I regularly ate which at that time included orange juice and non-fat fruit yogurt. To my surprise I discovered that a glass of orange juice had about the same grams of sugar as a serving of ice cream. (Wow!)

The was the beginning of my new habit – no more fruit juices. Instead, I switched to vegetable juices, low-sodium when I can. I also shifted to plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. The result of just these two changes has had a VERY positive impact on my weight. One can of soft drink, I’ve always favored Coca Cola, is off the charts.

Now, I always search for the sugar content when available and make a conscious choice whether to partake. I certainly haven’t given up everything that contains sugar, but I have become much more aware of the options I have around sugar intake. (Remember the AEC Model for Change where A=Awareness!) Even if you don’t make the same choice as I have, I invite you to look at the labels. How much sugar are you consuming each day?

The last area that Rubin discusses for this foundation is drinking. She recounts what we already know about the risks of alcohol – it lowers inhibitions, disrupts sleep, makes people exercise less, and undercuts self-control. Whether or not you choose abstinence, I urge you to consider how alcohol consumption can impact your quest to develop new and more effective habits that will help you become “better than before.”

Tomorrow, the fourth foundation, Unclutter.