DURING their struggle to lose weight, many individuals will start out strong with diet and exercise, reap results, but eventually give in to bad habits.
Obesity surgeon Dr Alfred Dawes says this counterproductive behaviour could be the result of unconscious self-sabotage.
Below he shares some habits that people should break if they are serious about a lifestyle change.
1. Eating while watching TV
Dr Dawes said there are two types of hunger — real hunger and head hunger. He explained that real hunger is felt when your stomach is empty and produces the hunger hormone ghrelin, while head hunger is really a knee-jerk reaction. “You may feel hungry when you are watching TV or studying, but this craving results from force of habit. Before you choose a snack, stop and ask yourself if you are really hungry — based on the time and quantity of your last meal — or is it really a craving induced by habit,” he said.
2. Drinking sweet drinks
“Some people simply cannot drink water because they are used to having juice or sodas. The problem is that sugary drinks contain a load of calories that are readily converted to fat. Get into the habit of drinking water while you are eating, and especially when you are thirsty,” Dr Dawes suggested.
3. Eating before bed
He explained that a late-night snack is one of the worst forms of cheating on your diet. Having that snack when your body's metabolism has slowed down in preparation for sleep will introduce lots of calories with no chance of burning them off for the next few hours.
“These calories are therefore stored as fat while you are sleeping. One late-night snack can cancel all your gym work for the day.”
4. Missing meals
Often people wonder how they eat only one or two meals a day but still pack on the pounds. Dr Dawes said missing meals is the reason. “Once you miss meals, your body goes into starvation mode. That means your metabolic rate slows and you store more of the next meal you eat. Better storage of fat and less burning of calories equals weight gain,” he said, adding that the key is to get into the habit of eating small meals five times per day. He further stated that by doing this, your body will speed up its metabolism and burn more food. “You won't be as hungry, so your meals will not be as big as the once-a-day meals leading to less storage of calories per meal,” he said.
5. Drinking alcohol
Dr Dawes said consuming small quantities of alcohol can be beneficial, but alcoholic beverages are rich sources of calories that are easily stored as fat. “Hence the term 'beer belly'. Moderation is the key, as you can be a fit drinker without the drunken or weighty consequences,” he said.