Archive for the ‘Habit Changes’ Category

Counting More Than Calories: Factoring in months and years

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

As we near our most weight-challenging season, I think about those who manage to navigate without gaining a “holiday seven”…..especially, those who now move through the feasts and parties and candies and dips without regaining.  There’s useful advice to be found in the media, on planning ahead, lightening traditional foods, taming stress.   A factor often neglected in weight discussions, though, is time.  Those who make lasting habit changes usually have come to appreciate the role of time.  And this sticks with them throughout even the challenging periods.

In contrast to lose-it-quick dieters, people who grasp the time factor might note something like, “It’s taken me 27 years to put the pounds on…..I guess it might take two to get if off.”   Whether they know it or not, they’re confirming the idea that “change is a process”.  And that time-limited dieting will never lead to the kind of day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out, habits and attitudes that maintain thinner physiques. (more…)


Sugar News, Sugar Blues

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I reprint here my latest Thin From Within blog from Psychology Today:

Those of us concerned with diet, health, weight, eating disorders, and addiction follow what I call “Sugar News” with great interest.   Starting, perhaps, in 2011, with the New York Times story “Is Sugar Toxic?”, followed by a 60-Minutes segment with the same name, the public has had  increasing exposure to what Overeaters Anonymous has known for years:  some people just can’t stop.   We’ve learned that sugar lights up addicts’ brains as clearly as drugs do.  Further, we’ve learned that it may be sugar, and not fat, fueling diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other diseases on the rise.

National Geographic now steps forward as the latest major magazine headlining Sugar News.   “Sugar Love:  A Not So Sweet Story”, by Rich Cohen, recounts our species’ historical love affair, and its significant struggles, with the substance that was once used sparingly, as a rare spice.  (We now consume, on average, 78 lbs. per person, per year—some spice!)    Cohen not only reviews sugar’s health tolls but provides deep perspective on why and how it spurs such rampant problems.

Other recent news, however, jars in contrast.   For the latest review of our nation’s eating trends, well summarized by the New York TimesJane Brody last week, shows little change in our sweet consumption.  That 78 lbs. per person remains stable, even if it is down somewhat from its all-time high.  It’s still way too high, about 22 teaspoons per day.    “….Cut back, many of the ill effects disappear…..”, one prominent medical researcher admonishes.  But it seems the increasingly frequent headlines—calling sugar a toxin, a poison, a drug—haven’t nudged our behavior all that much, at least not yet.

Realistically speaking, however, mass changes can take a long time.  It might take decades for these relatively recent findings to affect individual habits.  It might in fact require changes in public health policy (think here of tobacco research).   In the shorter run, though, Sugar News most certainly bolsters a group that sometimes does, and sometimes does not, overlap with the obesity stats:  the binge eaters, or self-identified food addicts.   Many in these groups benefit immediately from Sugar News.   Indeed, new and affirming paths for healing open as a result. (more…)


One New Fall Habit: BYO Lunch

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Throughout the fall, I’ll be picking up on the dozen “fall change” targets listed in the recent Eat Sanely newsletter (see just below).  The first idea?  Bringing your own lunch to work.  If you’re not in the habit of doing so, prepare for calorie reduction, better nutrition, and possibly even less grazing later on.  All from this one habit shift.

People who successfully make this change report things like:  “I don’t go to the food court every day anymore”, “I end up with more energy and don’t get as hungry in the afternoon”, “It’s easier to eat more vegetables”, “It keeps me out of the conference room, where the big spread always tempts me”.

What to bring?  Coincidentally, the New York Times “Flexitarian” columnist, Mark Bittman, recently published “Thinking Inside the Bag” on this very topic.  His ideas emphasize the delicious and satisfying.  They include nice, fresh ingredients.  You can do even less, though, in the way of prep.   Consider these routine alterations: (more…)



Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Eat Sanely’s September 2013 Newsletter is reprinted here….also, we’re again offering a dozen free Kindle downloads of our self-help workbook:  Eat Sanely:  Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster for Good.   Just send your email address to

As we say farewell to summer and return to fall routines, know that this is a potent time for planting the seeds of new eating habits.  For a variety of reasons, fall resolutions can work better than those made on January 1.  This means better chances of weight loss success and improved fitness.  What’s more, planting now means habits can take root by the holiday season, maybe saving you from inevitable weight gain then.

Regular followers know that Eat Sanely promotes lasting habit change as the key to weight loss and maintenance.  Any of the dozen ideas below can become a significant step forward toward your healthy weight goals.  Pick one or two to focus on, stick with them as best you can, pick yourself up and refocus if you get off track.  Later in the season, you’ll see that change for the better.  And success with that first one or two can breed more success with other targets.  So use this time of readjustment to get real change underway!



Cooking to Eat More Sanely

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

I offer here a revision of the 2011 post “Cooking to Eat More Sanely”, with an updated resource list. Preparing our own food helps weight and sane eating in countless ways that are worth revisiting….

It would certainly be great to adopt all those habits that lead to better weight loss and health. But here’s one to tackle that you might underestimate in your search for diet solutions. It’s simple: Cook more often.

Cooking can check weight and improve health even if you’re not an expert chef. When we cook at home, we avoid the added salt, sugar, and fats in take-out, fast-food, or restaurant fare. We can control portions better. We can boost the vegetables, shrink the starches, make more of those foods we don’t gorge on. We can make extras for dinner to bring for lunch and thereby avoid the cafeteria. We can get used to, and develop preferences for, real fresh foods that are good for us and our waistlines.

Two myths can stand in the way of our cooking more: (more…)


Beyond Weight Loss: Lots of Reasons to Move!

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Here are facts, some we’ve known for a long time, others from recent research.  Sometimes it”s easier to get going without the “I”ve got to lose weight mentality….”  Exercise for your health and well-being, period, no matter what”s going on weight-wise.  Focusing on these other positives can make the experience more satisfying.  Print the chart and post in on your refrigerator! (more…)


On Building Healthy Eating Habits

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Once again, I direct my readers’ attention to an article of interest:  How to Promote Healthy Eating Habits in Young Children.   Of course, we’re always working on developing and keeping up our own good habits….but how much easier when they’re solid to start with!



Hot Off the Press: Sane Eating News

Friday, May 10th, 2013

 My recent post at Psychology Today looks at helpful new releases–books, articles, columns–for those aiming to eat more sanely.  If weight loss or food addiction concerns you, check these out:




Friday, March 15th, 2013

How do you lose weight?…..Keep it off?…..Learn to like eating better?

There’s no shortage of books prescribing how to lose weight.  Whatever ends up working, though, most people need a “toolbox” to keep themselves on a helpful plan, to stick with changes, and, finally, to turn the changes into habits.

Why a toolbox?  In today’s world, most people—heavy or not—struggle to at least some degree to eat healthily and manage weight.   A variety of tools can help with these efforts:  tools that help strengthen foundations, dismantle obstacles, and fine-tune routines.  They might include coping skills, for instance, planning or communications strategies.  Several very common trouble spots can benefit.  For example: (more…)



Thursday, October 25th, 2012

I’m reprinting here an earlier blog, in response to headlines I read yesterday from Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times (see her article at “You May Want to Stand Up For This: Sitting is Bad”, and “Get Up. Get Out. Don’t Sit.” In other words, the research first emerging in 2005 continues to be reinforced in many subsequent studies. I think it’s good news–sitting less seems a reasonable and reachable goal–and one that has clear payoffs in health and weight.

“Sitting = Death”. This headline delivers a bit of a jolt. The story that it introduced, though, simply reported another study of what I call “incidental exercise” in the EatSanely workbook Others have used the term “non-exercise activity”. What these studies show is that heavy-duty exercise is not the only factor in the exercise-weight equation. The relationship between exercise and weight, in fact, proves much more complicated than previously thought. How much you move, day in and day out, even without planned “exercise”, affects your weight in significant ways. (more…)