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Biting the Habit: What's your eating style?

Snacker, picker, or guilty eater; the way you eat affects your weight

Eating styles contribute to weight problems more than most people realise, which is why standardised weight-loss plans often fail: they only target what people eat, ignoring how they eat – and we’re not talking about whether you slurp or sip your soup!

Eating styles have to do with when, where, and how you eat – and if you’re like most people, your eating style can really get in the way of your weight-loss goals. While you may not need to totally change your eating habits, adjusting them can help you reach your weight-loss or maintenance goals more effectively.

Read on and learn how to identify your eating style and change it for the better.

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Snacker and picker

Approximately 60% of overweight people fall into this category. Snackers and pickers rarely sit down to a proper meal, and if they do, they usually pick at it! They eat a little bit of this and a little bit of that constantly throughout the day. They frequently eat while engaged in other activities. You can sometimes spot a snacker or picker by the number of times they open the fridge during a day. Snackers and pickers also love finger foods: cocktail parties are heaven for a snacker or picker! Overweight snackers and pickers can often be heard saying, "I don't know why I have a weight problem, I hardly eat anything." 

The major problem with this kind of eating is that because snackers consume hundreds of empty and excess calories a day, they drastically underestimate how much they actually eat. And due to the fact that snacks don't really pack in enough “oomph” to meet basic nutritional needs and satiety (fullness and satisfaction of appetite), snackers and pickers are always foraging for something more to eat.

The snacker’s fix-it plan

  • If you are a snacker your best option is to omit snacks completely and eat three meals a day with enough fat, protein, carbohydrates, and overall calories to give you the feeling of total satisfaction. Put extra snack calories into your three meals. Although this is contrary to common wisdom of eating three meals and two snacks a day, it’s advised for you. Snacking or eating small meals all day is your problem!

  • However, if three meals and two snacks works better for you, just make sure you always bag your snacks in 100 to 200 calorie increments. Eat everything in the bag at one time and then stop eating. Make a commitment to eat only snacks that have been bagged and accounted for. Realise that you are only kidding yourself by thinking that these little snacks don’t add up.

  • If you’re going to snack, do it sitting down and with no other distractions. When you eat and do something else at the same time, you wind up eating hundreds of extra calories without realising it or even enjoying the food. Focus on one activity at a time. Eating is one activity, reading is one activity, talking on the phone is one activity and so on. You will learn that you can enjoy food more, and eat less, when you pay attention to what you are eating.

  • Keep a snack-calorie journal. Write down what you ate as soon as you can after eating, or better yet, write it down before you eat: you’ll start to see how it all adds up. For many snackers, just the awareness of how many calories they consume during snacking is enough to prompt them to make the necessary changes.

  • Eat with utensils, not with your fingers. Studies show that finger-food eaters have a difficult time losing weight because they eat more than their utensil-using counterparts.

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