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Day 20 – Learn What Hunger Is

Learn the difference between emotional/behavioral hunger and physical hunger. Emotional/behavior pattern hunger is instant. Physical hunger is gradual. If you notice that you are instantly hungry as soon as you walk in the door from work every day, think about how you can be proactive about this. Having a small, planned snack in the car on the way home is a great way to help with this. That way, when you walk in the door and are instantly hit with the desire to eat, you will be able to clearly tell whether your hunger is physical or emotional/behavioral. Emotional/behavioral hunger can easily become physiological hunger, so try to be more acutely aware of the difference.

Day 19 – Have a Staples List

It is much easier to make healthy choices when you are surrounded by them. Create a “staples” list of healthy foods that you always want to keep on hand to “fill in the gaps” when you don’t have time to prepare anything. Though your weekly foods will change, always make sure to have at least 5 items from your staples list on hand at all times. When you run out of one, make sure to put it on the list for your next trip to the store. If you always try to keep 5 items at home, you will always have something to grab and run out the door or to curb a craving. Some ideas include cheese sticks, individual cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, 100 calorie packs of almonds, 90 calorie packs of almond butter (Barney Butter is great), apples, clementines, and tuna pouches.

Day 18 – Break Your Associations

If you always associate mindless eating with relaxing after work, try a completely different behavior to associate with your after work pattern. It may be as simple as making a new habit of sitting in your backyard every afternoon for 10 minutes or sitting in your living room talking to your children or spouse. Whatever the new behavior, it should be away from the kitchen. Associations are powerful, and so is the almost audible voice of the foods calling your name from the pantry.

Day 17 – Do Not Justify!

It’s very easy to say to yourself “I could have eaten so much more, so it’s okay that I ate what I did.” Think logically about what you are putting in your mouth. Your body doesn’t know what you COULD HAVE eaten.

Day 16 – Make a List of Your Vulnerabilities

Make a list of your vulnerable times/situations. Most people struggle between 3:00 and 5:00 in the evening or late at night. For each one, write 2 or 3 potential strategies that might help you to manage more effectively. Write the strategies down on an index card, and post them in your kitchen.

Day 15 – Have a Fruit/Vegetable AND Protein

Have a fruit or vegetable AND protein FIRST at every meal and snack. This is one of the greatest behavioral and nutritional strategies for weight loss. Protein slows the blood sugar rise, keeps you full longer, and will help you to make better choices throughout the rest of your meal. Definitely don’t skip this step!

Day 14 – Learn to Love Your Veggies

Vegetables can taste SO GOOD if prepared correctly. If you learn to enjoy hot, filling, prepared vegetables, they can fill you up so you eat less of the other “filler foods.” Be aware that it is hard to fully enjoy vegetables when you are eating a great deal of processed foods. Your palate will tend to crave the processed variety. If you eat your veggies BEFORE you eat anything else, you will enjoy them more. Try this experiment: eat a bite of an apple before you have anything else in the morning. It will taste fresh and cold and wonderful. Then take a bite of a piece of bread followed by a bite of the same apple. IT WILL NOT TASTE THE SAME! Eating processed carbohydrates will completely change your experience of the “whole food.” Think about this when you make your choices at meals. VEGGIES FIRST! They will also help you to fill up so you eat less of the “other” things.

Day 13 – Use Fruit to Help With a Sweet Craving

Just like baked sweets and goodies, fruits contain sugar that can give you that “feel good” that you might be trying to satisfy. Try some baked apples topped with instant oatmeal and walnuts for a great apple pie substitute.

Day 12 – Eat a Healthy Breakfast

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but so many people skip it in an effort to save calories. When you skip breakfast, the metabolism actually starts to decline as a result. In addition, skipping breakfast also makes you more likely to struggle with healthy lunch decisions. Adding a slowing metabolism to not-so-great mid-morning or lunch choices is a recipe for weight gain. Even if you don’t love breakfast, consider adding something small to your morning like an apple with peanut butter. Even a glass of milk is enough to get your metabolism going.

Day 11 – Front Load Your Day

Your metabolism is the highest at the beginning of the day and slows from that point forward. Take advantage of this by “front loading” your day. This means eating more of your calories and carbohydrates in the early part of the day. Remember this rule: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, dinner like a pauper.