To diet or not to diet?
Submitted by Annie (LITE88)

The first thing that comes to mind when the subject of controlling food intake is to question the source of the motivation. Some sources of motivation could be from social pressure, physical appearance, emotions, health or any combination of these reasons. If you find you are unhappy with your appearance, think about how you come by that information. Media sources portray the ideal body shape in unrealistic ways. Sometimes loved ones will give the message that your body is unappealing. Controlling food intake might be beneficial to your physical or emotional health. Examining your reasons will help you to more clearly define what you want to do about controlling your food intake and how to go about it.

Start by discussing what you want to change with your family physician. Get a complete physical to ensure that you can change your food intake and not harm your health. This will also help to rule out the possibilities that there are physical reasons for bodily appearances. Discuss a nutritional plan with your physician to help you plan healthy changes. Ask for your physician’s permission to exercise and how to start if you have not exercised for a long period of time. Plan your menus for the meals you are going to make and create a shopping list. Before you go shopping, eat. A hungry person will be more easily enticed by incentives. Stick to the list that you have planned. Avoid purchasing incentives. If incentives are not in your home, you will be less likely to eat them.

Learn to recognize your biological signals. Eat when you are hungry, not because of time. Following your biological signals will help you to recognize when you need to eat because of hunger and not for other motivations. After consciously thinking about whether you are hungry or not, you might realize that you do not need to eat as often as you did before.

Give time for the stomach to let the brain know that you are full. This can be accomplished by taking smaller servings, eating with a small spoon, chewing slowly and thoroughly. Instead of beverages, drink water at meals and when thirsty throughout the day. Eat all meals at the same place, such as the kitchen or dining room table.

Keep eating separate from other activities such as watching television or reading your homework assignments. For example, if you eat while watching television you might unintentionally develop classical conditioning by learning to association the two activities together. What might happen then is that every time you watch television, you might want to eat even if you are not hungry.

Search for an enjoyable physical activity. Even something as simple as walking daily can become a healthy and beneficial activity to helping you control your food intake and resulting consequences. Physical activity can help raise your feelings of self worth. Meeting people who are enjoying similar activities might help raise your spirits too. Finding a partner to share physical activities with can also satisfy a motive for affiliation.

During times of change, you can become stressed over what you feel you are accomplishing or not. Companionship through the process of controlling food intake and exercising can help increase your chances of success too. When you are down, you can draw comfort from your support instead of drawing comfort from food.

Most of all, do not give up. There will be ups and downs and they happen to everyone. Just take it one step at a time. If you do have a lapse from your plans, examine the situation. You could be bored, in a bad mood over events or maybe being with company were reasons that you lapsed from your plans about how you control your food intake. Do not scrap your plans permanently, or feel bad about yourself, just pick your plans back up again.

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