Weight Loss: Some Women-Specific Hindrances

Eating on the run

Women have very hectic lives, and often find that they need to eat on the run. When you eat fast, you do not truly appreciate the food in front of you and are more likely to get hungry again shortly thereafter. In addition, women often rely on energy bars and drinks, which can provide several hundred calories, but then they end up eating full meals in addition to these supplements. 

What can you do when eating on the run?

▪ Pack yourself a nutritious snack before heading out the door, trying to combine protein and carbohydrate; some good choices include:

� Crackers and cheese

� Apple slices with peanut butter

� Sugar-free instant breakfast drink

� Snack mix (light on the M&Ms)

▪ Keep nutrition guides from your favorite fast-food establishments in your vehicle, and know that:

� Fast-food restaurants are always changing their menus�make sure you have the most current version

� New items that are deceptively healthy sounding and not listed in the current guide sometimes are not good choices�ask for the nutrition information

▪ Try to take a moment to really taste the food that you are eating, even if you are eating in your car, and become mindful of your eating

Preparing multiple meals

You know the drill. Your husband wants a meat and potato dinner. Your children hate meat and potatoes, but love macaroni and cheese. You are so full by the time that dinner is on the table that you do not even feel like eating a balanced meal.

What is a woman to do?

▪ Chew gum while cooking�old-fashioned advice, but it works

▪ Eat or drink a bit of something strong tasting while cooking, such as a square of dark chocolate or a few sips of wine

▪ Decide what you want to eat for your meal before you begin to prepare the food; while preparing dinner, think of your meal and look forward to eating it

▪ Hold a family meeting and try to find compromising meals that everyone can eat all or part of�studies have shown that the more variety of food items individuals are confronted with, the more they will eat

Eating like a man

Many couples find themselves going out to eat as their main social event. It gets us out of the kitchen, allows us to spend time talking to each other, and it certainly tastes good. Most restaurants offer low-calorie or low-fat choices; so, that is not the problem. All of this is meaningless, though, if we are easily persuaded to order dessert or another fruity drink, or we unconsciously try to eat the same amount as the person that we are dining with.

What can you do about eating out?

▪ Get the restaurant’s menu before going out to eat, if possible; try:

� Looking over the menu choices after eating breakfast or lunch, when you are full

� Picking a meal that is both appealing and a wise choice from a nutritional standpoint 

▪  Eat less of your main course, if you want dessert, or try to eat a lite breakfast and lunch

▪ Ask your server to bring a take-home container to the table with your meal, and promptly put half of your meal in the container

Emotional eating

Sure, men do it too, but not as much as women. Women are, by nature, amazingly resilient, but we also have a tendency to hold our feelings inside. This leads us to feel that we could use a little comforting, and if we can not find another way to get this comfort, food becomes the easy cure.  The downside is that it is very emotionally upsetting to no longer fit into any of your clothes. 

What can you do about emotional eating?

▪ Try to figure out what feelings usually cause you to eat more than you are physically hungry for, and try:

� Keeping a record of what you eat and how you feel when you eat for a few days

� Looking for patterns

▪ Brainstorm other things that could help you recover from the emotions, once you have established what your patterns are, and try:

� Going for a brisk walk, if you are angry

� Taking a bubble bath and reading a book, if you are sad

� Coming up with your own list of what to do, because everyone is different

▪ Keep healthful alternatives in your house; different foods seem soothing to different people, but many people choose:

� Crunchy foods, such as potato chips, when they are angry

� Smooth foods, such as pudding or cream-based soups, when they are sad or tired

▪ Try to find reduced-calorie and reduced-fat alternatives to your favorite comfort foods

Weekday vs weekend

Oh, we are so nutrition-minded during the week. A little high-fiber cereal for breakfast, a nice leafy salad for lunch, and some baked fish or chicken with rice for dinner. OK, so maybe we are not quite that well behaved, but we are pretty darned close! Then the weekend comes, and it all falls apart. Drinks with the girls, big dinners with our family, the Sunday morning brunch tradition, and before you know it, it is Monday morning, and we are upset with ourselves.

What can you do to keep weekends healthful?

▪ Stop defining foods as “good” or “bad”�the only “bad” food is food that is spoiled and could make you physically ill; remember:

� Nothing is “bad” in moderation

� “Better” is an acceptable term�a slice of plain cheese pizza is better than the one loaded with sausage, pepperoni, and extra cheese

� Imagine a stoplight in your mind�green means go (aim to eat many green light foods) and yellow means caution (allow yourself one or two yellow foods/week to celebrate life)

▪ Do not starve yourself during the week; even if you do not normally crave a food, by Friday night it will seem impossible to pass it by, if you have not eaten enough all week  

▪ Make food the sidebar in your life, not the main article; during the weekend, do what is important, such as:

� Doing things with the people you care about

� Relaxing

� Planning activities that everyone enjoys and that do not entail consuming large quantities of food

Nighttime eating

It is 11 pm, the house is silent, and you are folding laundry or packing your briefcase for work tomorrow. You are restless. You are tired. Maybe you are even a little angry that it is 11 pm and you are folding laundry or packing your briefcase. You suddenly feel like a bowl of ice cream is exactly what this situation calls for.

What can you do about nighttime eating?

▪ Stop and ask yourself if you are really hungry: Do you feel like eating would help keep you alert? Instead of eating, try:

� Brushing your teeth

� Sucking on a sugar-free hard candy

� Drinking some flavored water 

▪ Ignore the old tale that eating at night automatically leads to weight gain, and that you should not eat anything after 6 pm�this simply is not true

▪ Follow this advice:

� What matters is how many calories are taken in vs how many are expended, over several days

� If you did not eat much earlier in the day, let yourself eat whenever you want, but ice cream probably is not the best choice

� If you really feel that ice cream is what you want, choose a low-fat version