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We all have different relationships with food. You dig this. I crave that. There are some universal foods that almost every living being cannot live without —like chocolate — though “feeling full” is one of the most craved things on the planet.
Finding a healthy relationship with what you put in your mouth is a lofty goal for many. We use food to celebrate and cope, we make excuses around indulging in it. All of these factors tend to complicate things a bit. The bottom line: we can’t shut down and eliminate the life events that center around food, but we can control our response.
If you’re trying to lose weight or just establish a healthier lifestyle, you’re likely to run into some form of food-related temptation, no matter who you are. Instead of dreading an upcoming food fest and feeling like you have to deprive yourself, use some of these easy tips to trick your brain. Yes, I said trick your brain, because that’s where most all of your “hunger” lives.
Here are a few ways to essentially “trick” yourself thin:
1. Get that 'full' feeling, the healthy way.
Grab an eight-ounce (or larger) glass of water and guzzle it before eating a meal or snack. This helps fill your belly and tells your brain — hold on — there’s less room in there than you think! Most often, that “empty” feeling in your gut is a result of dehydration or a simple food craving.
I also love to end a meal with herbal tea instead of dessert. Remember, what goes in you, will live on you (your butt and hips and face) unless you change things up. An H2O fill-up will help you control your urge to devour everything in sight just because it’s there.
2. Use small plates.
Trick your eye by using smaller plates. If you fill up that little plate, your eyes will focus on the food. Attention to your plate size will pay off in rich ways, because after all your stomach is only about as big as your fist anyway and the super-size plates are anything but good for your soul.
3. Brush your teeth.
Brushing your teeth will tell your brain, HEY! MEALTIME IS OVER. Remember that your brain and stomach fullness cues take a few minutes to connect, so brushing your teeth will help you realize you’re satisfied and done for now.
4. Don't use technology during meals.
Avoid mindless eating or snacking in front of screens. Instead, think of each meal as a way to nourish your soul. Seriously. We are spirited creatures and eating is a hard-wired need in life. So give yourself the chance to just be with the bounty in front of you to see and consider, chew well and swallow.
If you learn to appreciate your food and relish the bites, you’ll pay more attention to how much and how quickly you’re eating, too. Now doesn’t that sound like a satisfying dinner date?
5. Distract yourself.
No, I don’t mean watch TV or pull out your iPad. Do something to divert your attention from snacking. Go for a walk, call a friend to catch up, do the dishes or take a shower. There are a number of things that can be done to remove you from your zombie-like state of mindless overeating.
Be good to yourself in ways that don’t require putting food in your mouth to make you happy. My work as a behavioral specialist and interventionist has taught me the importance of recognizing that food plays a significant role in our daily lives and a change in poor behavior can only be accomplished if we learn to be realistic about our goals.
It’s simple: Train your brain, change your behavior, lose the weight.
Brad Lamm is an interventionist, author, founder of Breathe Life Healing Centers in Los Angeles, which continues to transform the way addiction is treated in the U.S. In 2016, Brad relaunched intervention.com, the trusted domain for people seeking support for themselves or loved ones struggling with addiction.