You would think that people who eat healthy and stay slim would be the ones who spend a lot of time thinking about what they eat. After all, how else could they maintain a healthy weight unless they’re focusing on every bite? There are some clear differences in the way normal weight and overweight people approach food and eating – but what we’ve learned is that naturally trim people actually tend to think about food less than those who are watching their weight.
Naturally slim people have a relatively comfortable relationship with food, so they don’t really focus on it all that much. But for heavier people, the relationship is often more difficult and complex. Overweight people tend to be preoccupied with food – which ones are good or bad, how much or how little they should eat (and when) – to the point where they end up thinking about food all the time.
Want to behave more like a slender person? Try practicing some of their habits. In time, you may find yourself ‘doing what comes naturally’, too.
- Naturally slim people tend to eat fairly consistently. Their diets are well-balanced and varied, but there’s usually a pattern, so their diets are fairly predictable. The reason this helps is because too many tastes and textures can actually encourage you to eat more – that’s why we eat more at buffets. So establish a healthy pattern for yourself – say, a protein shake in the morning, a salad or veggies with protein for lunch, a protein snack in the afternoon, and a well-balanced dinner. You don’t need to eat the same protein or veggie every day, but stick to the pattern as much as you can.
- Naturally slim people aren’t afraid of a little hunger. Many overweight people view hunger as an emergency – something that has to be taken care of right away. And, for some, the fear is so great that they never really allow themselves to get hungry – so they’re always eating to prevent it from happening in the first place. This isn’t to say you should skip meals – that’s a tactic that usually backfires. But do recognize that hunger is simply a normal sign that your body needs fuel — and that it doesn’t take all that much to satisfy it.
- Naturally slim people learn to stop eating when they’re satisfied, rather than stuffed. Heavier people often train themselves to feel satisfied only when they’re stuffed. If, on a fullness scale of 1 to 10, you usually don’t stop eating until you hit a 9 or 10, take a reading about halfway through your meal, and try to stop at a 6 or 7.
- Naturally slim people don’t use food for comfort. This isn’t to say that slim people don’t occasionally have treats, or celebrate with food, but they generally don’t turn to food when they’re down or angry. When you feel yourself looking for food when you probably shouldn’t, learn to find other ways to make yourself feel better. Take a walk, call a friend or let off some steam in a journal instead.
- Naturally slim people sleep well – usually getting close to 8 hours a night. Not getting enough sleep can pack on the pounds. For one thing, you have more hours in which to eat. And, you might snack more because you’re tired - lack of sleep may cause your body to release more ghrelin, an appetite-boosting hormone.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.