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8 Dietary Downfalls and Solutions

Learn how to stop sabotaging your efforts to lose weight.

PROBLEM: I like a big bowl of cereal in the morning.
SOLUTION: Your first course of action is to make sure you're eating a low-GL cereal, such as Raisin Bran, All-Bran, or Bran Flakes, or at least a medium-GL type like Kellogg's Special K. If you're not used to these cereals, mix them with a bit of your usual cereal at first to make the transition easier. Second, pour less into the bowl and add something else to fill it up. You can top your cereal with fresh fruit, like chopped apples, strawberries, or blueberries. Adding a tablespoon of chopped nuts is an excellent strategy because nuts add protein and “good” fat, both of which help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling full.

PROBLEM: I don't eat breakfast until I get to work, and then there's not much to choose from except bagels or muffins.
SOLUTION: Pack your breakfast in an insulated lunch bag the night before so you can grab it on the way out of the house. A fine breakfast is a piece of fruit, a plastic bag with a small handful of nuts, and 8 ounces (250 ml) of low-fat yogurt. Or make a batch of healthy bran muffins over the weekend and grab one along with an orange. Another option: Keep a box of high-fiber, low-GL breakfast cereal (along with plastic spoons and bowls) at your desk, and bring the milk (in a Thermos), fruit, and nuts with you.

PROBLEM: I like sweet drinks, not water.
SOLUTION: That's okay. But think of these drinks, whether they're soft drinks, sweetened iced tea, or sugary fruit drinks, as a treat, like dessert. You wouldn't eat dessert more than once a day, so don't indulge in these drinks more often than that either. Wait until the afternoon and then get the smallest size you can find. In the meantime, cultivate another habit — sipping sparkling water. Some flavored varieties have few or no calories, and a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice makes plain sparkling water much more interesting and palatable. Buy seltzer or mineral water in bulk and make sure there's plenty at home and at the office. Changing this one habit can be a really effective way of improving your diet and even losing weight.

PROBLEM: There's no place to get a healthy lunch near my office.
SOLUTION: One strategy is to think through what changes would make it easier for you to bring lunch from home. If you're lucky, your office has a refrigerator, a microwave, or even a toaster oven. If so, get into the habit of making more of whatever you're having for dinner, then pack up the leftovers for lunch the next day. If there's no fridge, pack your lunch in a small insulated lunch bag with an ice pack. It will stay cold through lunchtime.

PROBLEM: I like pizza. Is that so bad?
SOLUTION: The devil is in the details. Thethicker the crust — especially Sicilian — the higherthe GL of the meal. If you add pepperoni, youreally sabotage yourself with extra calories andsaturated fat, which contributes to insulin resistance.So think healthier pizza: thin crust withveggies on top. Go for whole wheat crust if it'savailable. Stick with one or two slices. Add asalad with vinaigrette dressing so you getenough food to feel full; the vinegar in thedressing will also help lower theGL of the meal. And make thesoft drink a small oneor, better yet, havesparkling water.

PROBLEM: When I getsalad from the salad bar,I usually load it with cheese, croutons, andcreamy dressing. Is it still good for me?
SOLUTION: You might as well eat a hamburgerwith a side of lettuce. Full-fat cheeses andcreamy dressings are high in saturated fat, whichis bad for insulin sensitivity. They and the croutons(which are fried) are also loaded withcalories. Don't abandon salads, just look for waysto keep them interesting and healthy. Addtoasted sunflower seeds for crunch (and healthyfat) or a few black olives for richness (and again,’good’ fat). Add hot peppers, if you like them,for kick. Throw on some chickpeas for additionaltexture. Top it all off with a vinegar-baseddressing; experiment to find a tasty one you like,such as mustard vinaigrettefor extra flavor.

PROBLEM: I amstarving at about3:00 in the afternoon, andI eat whatever junk food is in sight.
SOLUTION: If you eat foods for better blood sugar for breakfastand lunch, this won't happen. And that's good,because research shows that when they're reallyhungry, people can eat as much as twice as muchfood as they normally would. Snacking itselfisn't bad at all, though, so keep healthy snacks onhand (think carrot sticks, apples, low-fat yogurt,a few whole grain crackers and peanut butter, ora handful of peanuts or almonds) to keep thesailing smooth between lunch and dinner.

PROBLEM: I eat carbs when I'm stressed oranxious.
SOLUTION: A lot of people reach for carbs whenthey're stressed. (The scientific jury is out as towhether carbs actually help calm you down. Theeffect may simply be due to a sense of comfortfrom a familiar food.) There's no quick solutionhere. The key is to figure out ways to cope otherthan eating. Practice deep breathing or giveyourself a ‘timeout’ by taking a 10-minute stroll,after which the craving should have passed. Oneof the best ways to deal with anxiety in generalis to exercise; even a brisk 20-minute walk canlift your mood and calm you down. Studies showthat people who exercise regularly have lowerresponses to stress than people who don't. Youcan also practice prevention at the supermarket:Avoid buying simple carbohydrates so theyaren't within reach when you want them.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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