How to Break Bad Eating Habits
The fallout: It may be soothing in the moment, but feeding your fears and frustrations, instead of confronting them, can lead to a cycle of more bad moods as well as steady weight gain. Many people turn to carbohydrates, in particular, which produce tryptophan, a type of amino acid that is used by the brain to manufacture serotonin. “When the brain makes more serotonin, your mood improves, but only temporarily,” says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet ($25, amazon.com).
The fix: Stop to think about what’s bothering you before reflexively open the cupboard. Then try a nonfood mood booster, such as taking a walk, seeing a movie, or calling a friend. “If nothing but carbs will do, get the serotonin boost without triggering a binge,” says Gidus. “Opt for a whole-grain treat so at least you get more fiber and less sugar.”
If You Eat Carefully All Week, Then Blow It on the Weekend
The fallout: It is possible to undo five days of good with regular weekend free-for-alls. In 2004, data from the National Weight Control Registry revealed that people who were consistent in their weekly eating habits, even if they weren’t perfect, were 1.5 times more likely to stay within five pounds of their weight over one year than were those who were vigilant on weekdays only.
The fix: Since much socializing around food takes place on weekends, it pays to strategize. “Have a mini meal before you go out to help you have more self-control, and offer to be the designated driver to limit alcohol intake,” says Gidus. (Alcohol has more calories than you probably think.) And don’t restrict yourself so severely Monday through Friday that the weekend feels like your only time for indulgence.