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Video: Skinny solutions to break fat habits

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    >>> today, fat habits that keep you fat. if you can't seem to take off the extra pounds even if you're watching what you eat it may be how you're eating that is derailing your weight loss . here with skinny solutions is "today" nutritionist joy bauer. good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> important to watch the fat habits because that could be why you're keeping it on.

    >> calling it fat habits because it's a catchy title but really they're common behaviors that so many people struggle with. thanks to our website, today.com, earlier in the week put a poll out and we got thousands and thousands of people responding, telling us what their fat habits are.

    >> let's look at them. number one and one of us are guilty of, eating in front of the tv screen.

    >> that's right.

    >> tempting.

    >> mindless munching. you're engaged in whatever you're watching, whether you're watching tv or on the computer. you can plow through a bag of chip or a whole row of cookies. the skimpy solution is obvious, power down the distractions.

    >> turn it off.

    >> eat without the tv or the computer playing in the background. and it's going to work.

    >> exactly.

    >> you will be more mindful of what you're eating and stop when you are comfortably full.

    >> exactly. your brain processes when you're done. next is another one that a lot of us do is using food for comfort because we all need a little bit of comfort food every now and again.

    >> right.

    >> that's got to derail weight loss .

    >> so many people use it as vice to cope when you're sad or lonely. the long-term solution clearly is to get to the root of what's both thring you. but the short-term solution is distract, distract, distract. come up with something that's convenient and pleasurable instead of eating. if you eat, the aftermath feeling of being bloated makes you feel even worse . so instead of food, you want to have something as your go-to. maybe put on your ipod, have great fabulous music, go out for a walk. call a friend, polish your nails or organize your purse. but anything. and if you do it over and over again, you are going to look at the food habit with this new hab habit.

    >> most of the time people eat when they're not hungry.

    >> yes. you can undo it.

    >> right.

    >> but you've got to strategize.

    >> here's another thing you've got to break the habit with, and that is overindulging on the weekends because a lot of people are good all week and say, okay, it's a little license on the weekend, i can have that piece of cake , i have a couple extra glasses of wine or two or three.

    >> i get it because we're structured during the week. we tend to eat light and then friday night rolls around and you totally fall off the wagon because you unwind. we avoid ourselves. the skinny solution is to selectively splurge on the weekend and it's the perfect compromise. i tell people to pick one or two splurges that they're going to look forward to and plan them out. maybe it's a fun cocktail on saturday night. maybe french toast on sunday. but if you only have one or two things over the weekend, you're going to wake up monday morning feeling fabulous. you didn't derail anything. then you're right on track during the week.

    >> right on track. very good. another thing, i do this all the time. i know i'm not supposed to do it.

    >> i know what you're going to say.

    >> standing up while eating. it just takes too much effort to sit down.

    >> this is interesting because researchers just took two separate groups of people. the first group ate while standing up. the other group ate the same exact amounts of group while sitsing down. a few hours later when both groups went to eat another meal the standers ate 30% more calories than the sitters. and the researchers theorize when you eat standing up you don't psychologically register it as a real meal so then you give yourself permission to overeat at the next meal. the skinny solution is grab a chair, get down and stay a while. focus on what you're eating.

    >> the other thing we're doing when we stand up and eat, we're eating straight out of the package half the time. i do that, as well.

    >> when you're eating out of an open-ended portion you tend to overse overeat. the key here is to ration out what you're going to eat, take a couple of handfuls, put it on a plate, put the package away, and you're most likely to stop at that one portion.

    >> okay. what mother or father hasn't done this? and that's grab bites from your kid's plate or the plate of your partner, radio it?

    >> that's right.

    >> another bad habit .

    >> i'm estimating if you had three small bites of macaroni and cheese off your kid's plate plate --

    >> it doesn't count.

    >> but it's 150 calories. if you take a little piece for yourself of cheesecake, that could clock in 200 calories. so you really want to just stick with your own plate, the food that's on your own plate. if you don't want a taste or sample, take a slice off of their plate, their portion, put it on your plate and own it. so you're aware of what you're eating.

    >> all right. we like that.

    >> things we like to taste.

    >> meanwhile, take the fun out of my friday night.

    >> never, never. i gave you two selective splurges for the weekend.

    >> okay. cocktails and cheesecake. there we go. meanwhile, falling for those tempts items in the checkout line. how often have we been suckers for that, right?

    >> we're waiting in line where twiddling our thumbs and those reese's and peanut m&ms and the cooler full of soda pop is calling our name. don't go to the grocery store hungry and do self checkout because the impulse items are not around those things. they're 30% less likely to fall prey to those purchases.

    >> all right. joy bauer, always great information. thank you.

    >> thank you.

    >> fun for us, too.

Joy Bauer
TODAY contributor
updated 8/12/2011 9:32:52 AM ET 2011-08-12T13:32:52

Shedding pounds and maintaining your weight involve more than just eating the right foods…how you eat them also matters. Breaking these common “fat habits” can help you whittle down your waistline and become a more mindful eater in the process.

FAT HABIT: You eat while standing up.

Studies show that people who skip sit-down meals in the interest of saving time may be costing themselves unwanted calories. Canadian researchers asked one group of people to eat food out of plastic containers while standing over a kitchen counter, while a second group ate an identical meal off of a plate sitting down at a table.

At their next meal a few hours later, the “standers” downed about 30 percent more calories than the “sitters.” The researchers theorized that eating on your feet doesn’t register psychologically as a “real meal”, and as a result people may subconsciously grant themselves permission to eat more later in the day.


Pull up a chair and stay awhile. You’re more like to pace your eating when you pause to sit down and enjoy your food, and eating more slowly can translate to fewer calories, so get in the habit of eating meals only while seated at the table.

FAT HABIT: You eat in front of a screen.

It’s incredibly easy to polish off a whole bag of chips or entire row of cookies when you’re mindlessly snacking while watching television or typing away on your laptop. Your electronics keep you distracted, so you’re less apt to listen to your body’s fullness cues and keep portions in check.

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Unfortunately, eating under the influence of your television screen can translate to hundreds of extra calories at a meal.

SKINNY SOLUTION: Power down the distractions.

Make a conscious effort to only eat meals in the kitchen (not camped out on the couch), without a computer or a TV playing in the background. When your meal is your only focus, you’re far less likely to eat past the point of fullness.

FAT HABIT: You grab bites from your kids’ or spouse’s plates.

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As long as it’s not on your plate the calories don’t count, right? Wrong! Frequently “borrowing food” from someone else’s plate is a fast way to pack on the pounds, especially since we tend to “forget” these bonus bites and typically don’t account for the calories. Consider this: just three forkfuls of your toddler’s mac and cheese can add an extra 150 calories to your meal, while a few mouthfuls of your husband’s cheesecake can tack on 200 forgotten calories. Add up all these extra tastes and nibbles over the course of a week, and you could be talking about thousands of extra calories!

SKINNY SOLUTION: Take ownership of your food.

Only eat food that originates from your own bowl, plate, and cup. If you want a few bites of a shared dessert, cut off your own slice (instead of picking here and there) so you can take note of the portion and mentally account for the calories.

FAT HABIT: You eat straight out of the package.

Going directly from container-to-mouth when munching on crackers, chips, cookies, ice cream, and cereal is a major trap for over-consuming calories. It’s nearly impossible to gauge how much you’ve eaten when you’re grabbing out of a seemingly bottomless pit, and you’re likely to underestimate how much food you’ve actually put away.

SKINNY SOLUTION: Plate it, then eat it.

Portion out 1 to 2 servings of the food into a bowl or onto a plate, and put the package safely back in the cupboard before sitting down to eat your share. By rationing out your snack beforehand, you’re less likely to keep going back for “just one more handful.”

FAT HABIT: You overindulge on the weekends.

So many dieters tell me they eat like a saint during the week, when their days are very structured, but then go off the deep end once Friday night rolls around. Weekends are a time to unwind and de-stress, and we often do that with heavy comfort food and caloric cocktails. Plus, there are more opportunities for splurging when you’re dining out and socializing with friends on days off. And sadly, 48 hours of rich eating can undo all of your hard work during the week and then some.

SKINNY SOLUTION: Plan selective weekend splurges.

To let loose and enjoy without sabotaging your weight loss, allow yourself one “off” meal each weekend when you can be a bit more liberal with your food choices. The rest of the time, try your best to stick to your regular meal/snack schedule. And, use your days off to squeeze in longer workouts to compensate for some of the extra treats.

FAT HABIT: You fall for impulse items in the checkout line.

When you’re twiddling your thumbs waiting for your turn at the register, those tempting displays of candy bars and coolers of soda can be very hard to resist. According to a survey conducted by IHL Consulting, a global research and advisory firm, women report consuming 14,300 extra calories per year from impulse purchases in the checkout line—and that can translate to 4 extra pounds a year!

SKINNY SOLUTION: Don’t shop hungry and opt for self-checkout.

Try to do your food shopping soon after eating a healthy meal or snack—if you’re not hungry, you aren’t as likely to fall prey to the peanut butter cups looming over the conveyor belt. Also, use self-checkout if available. A separate survey by IHL Consulting found that impulse purchases among women dropped by 32.1% when they scanned and bagged their own groceries.

FAT HABIT: You use food as comfort.

To quell stress or relieve boredom, people often turn to food that’s high in calories, sugar, and fat. Using food to dull emotions or provide temporary distraction is a common coping technique among people who struggle with their weight.

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But overeating isn’t the solution: it does nothing to resolve negative feelings and the heavy, bloated aftermath and guilt ultimately leaves you feeling even worse.

SKINNY SOLUTION: Find more productive (non-food) ways to cope.

The best way to stop using food as comfort is to get at the root cause of your sadness, anger, or stress. In the long-term, you’ll need to address the issues that are triggering your emotional eating, whether a troubled relationship, job dissatisfaction or something else entirely, if you want real relief. In the short-term, the best solution is to distract, distract, distract. Choose an alternative activity that is both pleasurable and convenient, such as calling a friend, taking a walk, reading a book or magazine, watching TV, or doing a hobby that relaxes you. Over time, these activities—not food—will be the first things you think of when you’re blue and in need of a pick-me-up.

For more information on losing weight, visit joybauer.comand follow Joy on Facebookand Twitter.

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