Jessica Matthews by Jessica Matthews

Food choicesLosing weight and keeping it off involves taking a close look at not only what you eat, but also why you eat. Weight-loss experts—including registered dietitians and psychologists—share their tips on how you can keep your hunger in check and stay on track with your health and fitness goals.

Change the Way You Think

When it comes to making healthy, rational food choices that will help you lose weight and keep it off for good, the link is what you think, according to ACE Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences and weight-loss expert Michael Mantell, Ph.D. “Emotional eaters erroneously believe thoughts such as ‘It’s OK to eat because everyone else is—besides, I rarely get to eat this type of food and it’s free.’ They need to replace this type of thinking with more accurate, logical and rational thoughts, reminding themselves that they can eat whatever they want OR they can be thinner, but not both.”

Prevent Cravings Before They Start

One of the best ways to prevent an afternoon trip to the vending machine is to stay ahead of hunger by eating nutrient-dense foods—such as avocado, flaxseed, salmon, quinoa, amaranth, berries, nuts, vegetables and legumes—that satisfy you, says registered dietitian and Oxygen magazine cover model Tiffani Bachus. “These foods take longer to digest and nourish the body, leaving you satiated and physically and mentally stable. If you’re experiencing cravings, chances are you may have an imbalance of one or more nutrients.”

Sip Green Tea Throughout the Day

Staying properly hydrated plays an important role in keeping your appetite under control. Green tea packs an added punch as it contains the amino acid theanine, which brings both mental calmness and alertness, making you very aware of your surroundings so you don’t overeat, say The Nutrition Twins Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, registered dietitians and authors of the The Secret to Skinny. “It takes the edge off so you can make a rational decision about what you will eat. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which helps to bring on a feeling of satiety by increasing the hormone cholecystokinin. It also helps to keep your blood sugar stable thanks to its catechins, so you’ll avoid the blood sugar crash and the craving for a quick pick-me-up from sugar that comes with it.”

Don’t Let Emotions Get in the Way

Starting at an early age, many people learn to use food as a way to cope, find comfort, escape from life problems or to reward successes, which can be a problem for people who want to lose weight, says registered dietitian and personal trainer Ruth Frechman, author of the The Food is My Friend Diet. “When it comes to emotional eating, it is mind over matter, and it starts with deciding to take control and getting motivated to action.” Frechman shares the 4-step process she uses with clients—dubbed “Keep It R.E.A.L.”— to help curb emotional eating:

  • Recognize emotional eating and the trigger emotion. Is it depression, boredom, stress? Many people aren’t in tune with their emotions.
  • Express the emotion to a friend, a pet or yourself in writing, starting with “I feel …”
  • Acknowledge and accept the emotion. We are humans with many emotions. Feel it and then move on.
  • Love yourself. Tell yourself what you need to hear. Instead of turning to food to forget or escape, telling yourself what you need will make you feel better. Supporting yourself puts your mind at ease and takes away the need to eat.

Hungry for more weight-loss info? Get the skinny on the psychology behind eating healthy.

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