Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:

Healthy Living

By Sheryl Kraft

Share on:

Every Monday morning, I dread stepping onto the scale. I beckon the willpower that went MIA over the weekend to return to me - and it usually does. And then?   I'm jolted back into reality by those numbers. Time to remember this: now that I'm past menopause, I have to realize I can't eat with abandon without paying the price. And the price is usually a couple of pounds.

Weekends are wonderful for relaxing, yes. But what happens is that it's easy to get a bit too relaxed and throw caution to the wind when it comes to your eating habits. (A girl's gotta have some fun, right?) Even if I don't think I'm eating that much more than normal, the scale tells me the truth. I swear, lately I can put on weight just by THINKING about food.

Weight gain by osmosis.

I don't know about you, but as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that if I want to maintain my weight I have to find new ways to do it. (I deplore the word "diet" and would much rather say I'm making lifestyle changes than dieting. My philosophy? You're either on – or off – a diet, which leaves very little choice in between).

Here are some helpful tips I've learned to lose some weight and stave off hunger. Some I've found through research. Others have come through my own personal experience. Isn't the wisdom you gain by growing older a wonderful thing?

  • Eat around the clock. Some people might believe in 3 square meals a day. When I've done that (usually when I travel), I always avoid weight gain. But when I'm home, it's just not part of my schedule. A healthy snack, both mid-morning and mid-afternoon, keeps me from getting so hungry that I attack the food come lunch and dinner. Good bet: nuts. A new study has found that eating two handfuls a day (approximately 1/3-cup) is heart-smart by lowering blood cholesterol levels. And because they're packed with fiber and protein, they help keep energy levels up and hunger at bay.
  • Keep a food diary. No, I don't do this – it's just not in my DNA to keep a diary - but I know people who do, and they swear by it. Studies do prove that dieters (there's that word again!) who record their meals and snacks lose more weight than non-diary keepers. (I guess the mental equivalent of keeping a food diary would be having a strong conscience and a long memory? If you can summon those, that works, too).
  • Don't rush it. Eat slowly. When you race, you don't give yourself time to even know how much you've eaten or if you're full. (I've heard that Japanese people stop eating when they're ¾-full. In all actuality, they're probably 100 percent full; they're mind just needs time to catch up with their bodies). Research shows that eating slowly gives your body more time to produce key hormones that control your appetite.  Personally, food tastes better when I eat slowly… it actually gives me time to enjoy what I'm doing. Another bonus? Your tummy will thank you for easing its work; you'll get better digestion.
  • Make friends with your scale. Okay, I know this is a tough one. In fact, for years, I refused to rely on the scale (but then the weight started creeping up, unnoticed).  I have a friend who only relies on how tight her pants are getting. But it's proven that people who weight themselves more often lost more weight and prevented more weight gain over two years than those who weighed themselves less frequently.
  • Turn it off. When you listen to music or watch TV – or even read - while you eat, it's likely you'll linger longer at the table, and continue to eat. That's why a lot of experts favor "mindful eating:" That's all about savoring each and every bite without any distractions; when we pay attention to our food, we become aware of its taste, its texture and how much of it we are actually eating.

This Matters> Weight maintenance, or loss for that matter, is not a one-size-fits-all deal. Far from it. What works for one may not work for you - or even backfire. Everybody is different; everybody has their own threshold for how they're willing to live and how they want to look.

For more on this subject, click here.

Trouble setting goals? This can help.

Subscribe to Midlife Matters by Email

Comments

Thanks for these tips. I know you are supposed to eat slowly, but have a real problem remembering in time. Usually I think of it when my plate is almost empty!

Alexandra,

Maybe this will be a reminder for you. I know some people are just accustomed to eating quickly and it's hard for them to change it or even be conscious of the fact that they're doing it.

Like you, I'm not a fan of "diet," but I do like lifestyle changes. One great thing about working from home is that it's easy to keep healthy snack and meal choices on hand. If I don't buy it in the store, it won't be here to beckon me. The last office I worked in was full of cakes, pastries and pizza -- seemed like it was always someone's something and it called for fattening foods. I don't miss the temptations!

I know just what you mean about working in an office. They are always filled with such sweet, fattening, unhealthy foods, aren't they? And if it's there, well, it's all-too tempting.

These are great tips. I too always lose weight on vacation when I eat only three meals, but at home I have to snack in between. Good to know nuts are a good solution.

Yes, nuts are kind of magic...all you need is a couple of handfuls to get some energy and feel satisfied. That's been my experience, anyway.

I just keep trying to up my intake of fruits and veggies, since both are low calorie and filling. But there is a limit. At some point I'm just going to have to make friends with the idea of gaining weight.

My favorites - fruits and veggies. Can't wait until the summer fruits are finally here!

The one that resonates most with me is the slowing down part. I'm not a fast eater, so to speak, but I feel like I "eat on the run" a lot!

Lots of us do eat on the run, Meredith. That's one way to not realize how much you're eating. I'm guilty of that, too...when my kids were little and I was busy carting them to all kinds of activities, I used to eat MEALS in the car! Glad those days are over.

Good tips, Sheryl! Weight management definitely becomes more of a challenge as we age. Whereas I used to be able to drop several pounds easily by cutting back, I'm now struggling mightily to lose weight. And I don't have the desire to diet as much--a lifetime of diets has left me weary!

Oh, yes, nancy, quite a challenge. I used to also be able to drop several pounds by simply eating a bit less for a day or so; in fact, I had to eat just to keep from losing weight - but not now...

Good tips, Sheryl! I still have an aversion to the scale, though. In fact, I got rid of mine several years ago when I had a bulimic roommate and I didn't want any triggers around her. The only time I even have access to a scale is at the gym or doctor's office, so I'm more of a "how my pants fit" person.

If the "pants fit" works for you, that's great, Susan. I think some of us (myself included) need more of a blatant reminder, like numbers looming in front of our eyes :)

Thanks for these good suggestions. Like Alexandra, I have trouble remembering to SLOW DOWN when I'm eating (um, maybe because I have to get up 15 times to get stuff for my kids?!)

Ack. I remember those days. It's tough, I know. Maybe don't start to eat until everyone is settled - or how about making the kids get up and get it themselves? Easier said than done, I know...

And to add one...smaller portions..This was the hardest (is the hardest for me) just realizing as I get older I don't need to eat as much. For me, its been NOT getting seconds..and really slowing down (as you wrote) and enjoying what's on my plate. They key is not to heap it on in the first place..teehee.

Absolutely - I couldn't agree more with the smaller portion tip. So many times I think we're used to more food than our body really needs; it becomes more of a habit than an actual necessity. Thanks for bringing that up, Nora!

I'm guilty of not following so many of these rules--I've noticed that as I've gotten older and busier I just cruise through my meals. I need to slow down when I'm eating!

Diet diaries are the way to go! Another trick is to write down the things you should avoid eating (in my case, cream-top yogurt and anything with sugar). Sometimes just clearly articulating your rules/guidelines makes them easier to follow.

timely tips, sheryl. i'd add another: due to health stuff, i haven't been able to keep up my regular exercise routine for the past three months. and, um, it's starting to show.

physical activity regulates my appetite. and when i feel well i'm less likely to comfort eat too.

I refuse to make friends with my scale, as far as I am concerned, its my enemy and I dont regularly get on it. My problem with weight is that I have thyroid issues and no matter how little I eat, or how much I exercise, nothing comes off. Good idea for any woman if she is not losing weight but tryint to, is to check the thyroid. In the meantime, i still exercise every single day and eat very little sugar.

Add new comment