Planning ahead for your meals could be key to managing weight.
A study suggests that eating habits and not necessarily food choices are to blame for weight gain. Researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid analyzed data from over 1,600 people aged 18 - 60 regarding their weight and typical eating habits. Participants were then followed over the next 3.5 years.
During the study, about one third of participants gained at least 6.5 lbs. Those who said they ate while watching TV at least two times a week, or didn’t plan how much to eat before their meal, were more likely to gain weight, compared with those who didn’t.
Surprisingly, many other behaviors that are generally thought of as unhealthy, including eating pre-cooked or canned foods, buying food from vending machines, and eating fast food were not directly linked to weight gain.
So, how can you use these findings to your benefit? Be more mindful!
Start our by planning ahead. Before heading to a restaurant, check out their menu online and choose what you will eat, this will help you avoid overeating and making impulsive meal choices.
Another helpful tip is to pay attention to your food. When you sit down to eat, notice the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chew slowly. Turn the TV and computer off and sit at a table or a nice spot outside and focus on your food. This will help you to not overeat and will improve digestion.
If you’re constantly on the go, start slow and eat one meal a week with no distractions. Researchers suggest setting your kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and taking at least that time to eat a normal-sized meal.
This study doesn’t give you the green light to indulge on unhealthy food. Keep in mind that some canned, processed and fast foods can be unhealthy even if they don’t lead to weight gain. Often these foods are high in sodium, which is linked to high blood pressure. Focusing only on weight gain doesn’t give the whole picture of health. Having a varied and balanced diet with plenty of seasonal vegetables, and lean protein is your best bet for good health.